marketing tips for today's small business and non-profit
In my previous article, we began to identify the three key aspects to creating a successful marketing campaign. It all starts with identifying your target audience. While there are many conventional things you must know about your audience, such as their age, income, geographic location, etc. The ten questions I outlined beg you to look deeper. Become a bit more intimate with your potential customer. Those questions attempt to unlock the secrets of your potential customer key behaviors. Behaviors that you can then use to create a compelling message. If you haven’t already, be sure to review those ten questions before proceeding.
In today’s article, we will discuss the second aspect in the marketing trifecta: how to create a compelling (and appropriate) message. Webster’s defines message as, “a communication containing some information, news, advice, request, or the like, sent by messenger, radio, telephone, or other means.” Webster’s also offers the definition of message as, “the inspired utterance of a prophet or sage.” In the world of marketing, we must strive to combine these two definitions. We must be the prophets of our own companies, uttering inspired communication to our select audience. To do this effectively, we must follow some basic rules that govern messaging. In this article, we will discuss those rules and offer you examples of those rules in action.
Aspect # 2: Creating a compelling message.
Rule # 1: The message must make a proposition to the potential customer.
The first rule in creating a compelling message is simple, each advertisement or marketing opportunity must make a proposition to the potential customer. Not just words, not just images, not just product puffery. Each opportunity must say to each potential customer, “Buy this product (or service), and you will get this specific benefit.”
There is a commonly accepted adage, a fallacy in fact, that “the ends do not justify the means.” However, when it comes to marketing messaging, the ends the means must always give the promise of the ends. Let’s break this down a bit further.
One of my favorite major marketing campaigns is the Orbit gum campaign, “Dirty Mouth, Clean it Up.” Here, Orbit gum positions itself as “The Fresh Maker.” As the means to a variety of pleasantries, such as a clean, bright smile and fresh breath. The commercial pushes the benefits even further by making the claim that fresh breath and brighter smile will land you a job, make you more attractive and boost your confidence.
Rule # 2: The message must be audience appropriate.
I can’t tell you how many companies, large and small, miss the mark on this one. Being “audience appropriate” is more than just being “age appropriate.” Obviously, if you are selling toys to children, you don’t want to use an overly sexualized message. That part of discovering the proper message is easy. The more difficult part is making sure you are communicating to your audience in a way that will be well received. To do this, you must take into account many of the questions we discussed in my earlier article. Things such as, how much does my customer read? If you answer is very little, it wouldn’t be appropriate to bombard your customer with text heavy messaging.
Additionally, the question, “Is price or quality more important to my customer” speaks to the type of value statements you would communicate. If price is the most influential factor in your customers’ decision to buy, the price must be the dominant message. Working in tandem with price and quality is the question, “How much time does my potential customer spend researching a product or service?” If you answer is greater than one minute, you will want to explore different ways to offer as much detail as possible. Often times this means creating an initial message that captures your customer’s attention and then directs them to another site (e.g. a website, blog or news article) that provides more detail.
Finally, I cannot stress how important using the correct verbiage is in being audience appropriate. This is discovered by answering the question, “At what grade level does my customer read and comprehend?” Nothing can turn a customer off more than the inappropriate use of language.
Rule # 3: The message must be method appropriate.
This is slightly different from being audience appropriate. Here, how and where you deliver your message is the focus. If you are fortunate enough to be able to use television to market your product or services, having scrolling text with no visuals is, perhaps, not the best use of you marketing dollars.
I urge you to take a moment to think about where you have seen advertisements. One curious spot I have noticed is in the grocery store, on the actual grocery carts! Now, this may make sense for Starbucks, if there is a Starbucks within the grocery store, but does it make sense for the “hottest new dance club downtown”? You be the judge.
Remember, where you deliver your message should be predicated on where your audience goes. This information is gleaned from questions such as, “How does your customer spend his or her leisure time?” and, “Where does your customer receive his or her news?” Determining where to place your message is part science and part art. In the world of marketing, we call it media buying, placement and positioning. While much of your advertisement placement will be constrained by your marketing budget, I urge you to take an individualized approach to determining where to market your goods and services. The goal here is to get your message in front of the right people at the right time.
Rule # 4: The message must be unique.
This is, in my opinion, the most challenging and most creative aspect of messaging. In today’s interconnected world, potential customers are bombarded with information, news and advertisements. From the internet to the sides of vehicles, one can hardly travel a quarter-mile without encountering some type of marketing or advertising. With this in mind, your message can easily be overlooked.
To create a unique message doesn’t require a large marketing budget, just some creativity that adheres to the key principles of uniqueness:
• Don’t try to be everything for everybody. If you do, you will quickly undermine what makes you different, regardless of how great that difference is.
• Don’t ignore changes in the market. If you do, your difference can become less important.
• Don’t ride the coattails of larger competitors. If you stay in the shadow of your larger competitors, you will never prove your “differentness” and you will always come across to the consumer as weak.
Rule # 5: Have fun with it!
Marketing should be fun. That is what motivated me to get into the field of marketing. Many times, business owners are afraid to have fun despite evidence that “fun” creates stronger brands, attracts more attention, and gains greater loyalty. Having fun with your message doesn’t necessarily mean using humor, although you may want to. Remember, your message still has to be both audience and method appropriate.
Now, you may not have a large marketing budget and, perhaps, you may not be able to afford the conventional outlets for marketing (television, print magazines, major websites radio and billboards). That’s okay; the rules are the same no matter what your budget will allow.
In the third and final installment of this series, we will discuss ways to maximize your marketing budget by selecting the most appropriate, and sometimes most underused, marketing outlets. In the meantime, if you’ve found this article interesting or useful, please consider sharing it with your friends. Make sure you receive the next installment, be sure to subscribe to this blog, join my mailing list, friend me on facebook or follow me on twitter.
Until then, have a happy and joyous week!
Ping web site
I just returned from a rather lengthy and interesting conversation with a very close friend of mine. He and I get together once every month or so to catch up and share news. I know, in today’s world of twitter, facebook and social networking, it’s sometimes hard to believe that people still schedule time to share news with each other. Call me old fashioned, but I find a distinct value in face to face time.
After some general updates and discussion of the upcoming holidays, the conversation turned to my launching of Graysen Brown. After explaining to my friend what I find so interesting about the field of marketing, he asked me, “What aspect of marketing separates successful campaigns from the rest?” Admittedly, I had to chuckle a little. You see, in my opinion, there isn’t one aspect of marketing that is any more important than the others, especially in today’s interconnected world. However, I came up with a list of what I believe to be the trifecta of successful marketing. Over the next three blogs, I will be discussing these three components and providing you some useful tips to create a successful marketing campaign.
Aspect # 1: Identifying your target customer(s).
Just like any hunter, you have to know what your hunting. I know, you must say, “I’m hunting money.” But that’s not enough. Truly, your hunting people. Specifically the people who have the money to buy your product, service or support your cause. I know it must seem like a rather simple concept, yet few companies spend the time, energy and resources necessary to clearly define to whom they ought to market. Call me strange or call it my educational background, but this is the aspect of marketing that sparks my curiosity the most.
To define your target audience best, you need to get into their psychology and behavior. In many ways, you have to become a behavioral analyst. Now, I know, most of you out there haven’t the time, so I thought I would give you a few hints. Here are ten questions every business should ask about its potential customer:
- How does my customer spend his or her leisure time?
Knowing what interests your customers share and how they spend their most important commodity, their time, is invaluable to defining unique and often unexpected opportunities to reach them. In a later blog post, I will discuss the benefit of reaching your customer during their leisure time.
- How much does my customer read?
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have seen companies use too much or not enough verbiage. The old adage that more is better is, to say the least, old. What’s the point of saying more if you don’t need to?
- At what grade level does my customer read and comprehend?
Are your speaking over their heads, or belittling them? When it comes to marketing, words may not hurt you, but they can definitely kill your profits.
- Where does my customer receive his or her news?
Keep in mind that there are many different types of news, ranging from water cooler gossip to international politics. If it’s being shared between two or more people who are not personally involved, it’s considered news.
- How much time does my customer spend researching products or services before making a purchase?
This could also be known as: is my customer a window shopper or an impulse buyer? Misjudging your customer on this one could lead spending too much (or too few) resources in all the wrong places.|
- If my customer won $1,000, how would he or she spend it?
You may be thinking this is the same as question five, but it’s not. Certainly, your customers’ normal spending habits play a factor here, but this question isn’t aimed at discovering their normal spending habits.
- Which holiday, other than Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, is my customer’s favorite?
Every business (even mine) markets during the holidays, but what other times of year are your customers most likely to spend near the same amount on others?
- Is price or quality more important to my customer?
Although many will tell both are equally important, your customer will always favor one over the other. It is also important to keep this question limited within the context of your particular products or service.
- When writing (not typing), does my customer write in cursive?
You are probably wondering what this has to do with marketing, but you’d be selling yourself short to skip it. Their are countless studies on the handwriting style of individuals. In fact, there are two major fields of study that have sprung from this; Typography and Handwriting Analysis. If court cases could be won or lost based on this, I think it’s worth taking a look at.
- If my customer could live anywhere in the world, for free, for one year, where would he or she live?
This is, personally, my favorite question to ponder. Keep in mind that most individuals habitat is, by and large, determined by their income (or, in the case of youth, by their parent’s income). This question pushes that factor to side to discover the physical environment that is most appealing to your customer.
I urge you to answer each of these questions for yourself. Then, take a look at the products and services you buy and how you came to buy them. I think you will find that parallels between your purchasing decisions, and the answers to these questions will amaze you.
In my next blog, I will show you how to use the answers to the questions to create the second component of a successful marketing campaign. In the meantime, if you’ve found this article interesting or useful, please consider sharing it with your friends. To ensure you receive the next installment, be sure to subscribe to this blog, join my mailing list, friend me on facebook or follow me on twitter.
Until next time, I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!