How Do You Focus Your Marketing?

camera lens imageYou’re trying to promote your business.  You want to tell everyone about the great service you offer, your years in business, and your products.

You know this is a mistake, but how do you promote yourself without talking about your service or your quality or your price?

It’s about the lawn, not the grass seed

Why do people buy grass seed? To get a beautiful lawn. You won’t get business by touting years of hybridization to develop your special seed.  You will get business if you offer a solution. Ordinary lawns have to be mowed regularly.  It’s time consuming and hard work.  What if you had a seed that only grew two inches high (then stopped).  Now, a lawn that never needs mowing!  You’d clean up.

Sell holes, not drills

People buy drills because they want to make holes.  The drill is just the means to get the hole. People who buy exhibits don’t really want banners, booths, and brochure stands.  What they really want is to get more visitors at trade shows, more leads, and more customers.  Use your secret identity to figure out what you’re really selling.

Cure your customers’ headaches

What do people hate about exhibits? They’re expensive, it costs a lot to ship them, and it’s hard to dispose of them when they wear out.  Explain why yours are different.  They’re 22% lighter (and cost less to ship), they’re recyclable, or your customers get 36% more leads (include the testimonials to prove it).

Talk about the results (the lawn that never needs mowing) instead of the grass seed (the product).

Not sure where your marketing is focused?  Take the one-minute marketing test and find out.

Photo:  squeaky marmot

Are You a Problem Solver or a Pitch Man?

Peter Tran (on Marketing Professionals Know-how Exchange Forum) wanted to follow up with the leads his company had gathered at a conference. He wrote this email and posted it to the forum for review:

“Hello Mr/Ms. Blank,

I am Peter Tran from _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ . You spoke with one of our representatives at the Sapphire Conference and I would like to follow up with you regarding your SAP Security. As you learned at the conference, our security design strategy and products can help you reduce security administration costs, improve Sarbanes – Oxley compliance, simplifies and streamlines approvals, and stops fraud. Our tools will save you money and make your job 20 times easier.

I will contact you tomorrow just in case this email does not find its way to you. If you have any immediate questions, please do not hesitate to reach me a _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . In the mean time you can visit our website at www._ _ _ ___ _ _ _ Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Peter Tran”

My first thought was that it sounded more like a phone script than an email.
But the real problem is that it’s a sales pitch, instead of a problem-solving pitch. I don’t know what subject line he was planning to include, but why would a prospect open this?

It’s just another email from a pesky salesman trying to sell something. He hasn’t given a good reason why the recipient would want to talk to him, or even given them a choice about it. He’s going to call tomorrow (convenient or not). Ouch!

Trust First, Pitch Later

It’s not clear what his product does, or why anyone would want to buy it. He’s got some buzzwords that sound vaguely financial (Sarbanes-Oxley, stopping fraud), but they’re buried and there’s no clear benefit.

Give the Prospect Clear Reasons to Talk to You

Pique their interest so they WANT to talk to you. How does it make their jobs 20 times easier? Does it save time? Minimize paperwork? Reduce the stress of complying with complicated financial reporting requirements?

Offer them something they’ll find useful, such as a special (free) report: “Cut Your Sarbanes-Oxley Paperwork by 25%”

Market with Permission

Get consent on the date and time. Tomorrow may be convenient for you, but not for them. Offer a choice. Gauge their interest before wasting their time (and yours).

They have to know, like, and trust you first, before they’ll buy.

Photo: http://  bramus

Do You Know the Key to a Successful Marketing Campaign?

marketing keyPeople have been arguing since the invention of advertising and direct mail over which is the most important: list, creative (design and copy), or offer (what the people who respond get).

It sometimes gets to be a bit like the proverb about the blind men and the elephant: if you’re a direct marketer you say it’s the list, copywriters insist it’s the words, sales people say it’s the offer, and designers are adamant that it’s the color and graphics that count.

At the risk of being denounced by designers and my fellow copywriters, the answer is the list. Without the right list the entire campaign collapses.

Here’s why:

A bad list will sink everything else.

A great list can boost an unappealing offer and poor creative, but award-winning copy and design won’t help you sell vodka to teetotalers.

The mailing will fail if the list is wrong (sending hamburger coupons to vegetarians), the offer is unappealing (free sewage!), or the creative is poor (it talks about you and what you want, rather than the customer: buy from me so I can go on vacation).”

Target the right audience (the list), make an appealing offer (the price, quality, and value), and use compelling words and design (the message, the testimonials, and the referrals, plus the colors, the format, and the images).

Photo: brenda starr

Will Your New Product Succeed or Fail?

You’ve got a great idea, and a brilliant marketing campaign, looks like all is good to go. Right?

Or wrong?

Jim Kronenberger (current Director of Sales at American Le Mans Series) said on LinkedIn that he once worked for a company that had a great marketing idea. They rented two bright yellow Hummers, loaded them down with emergency communications gear, and made the rounds of state and local agencies.

The agencies loved it! They had few plans for a disaster and really wanted a solution.

So far, so good. The company found a problem, created a solution, and selected a market that desperately wanted their product.

But something went wrong. It seems that the agencies had no money to pay for the equipment. They needed a 1-2 year lead time to apply for grants and get the funds necessary to purchase the equipment.

The agencies had a need, but no authority and no money. Eventually, – after wasting lots of time and money – Jim’s employer had to give up.

When looking for prospects, or generating ideas for a new product, ask yourself:

1) Is there a need for this?

2) Is there a niche I can exploit?

3) Is the market for this product big enough? You may love garlic and sausage-flavored ice cream, but will anyone else?

4) Can your target market afford your solution? There’s no sense trying to sell Louis Vuitton handbags to people applying for food stamps.

5) M-A-D (not angry – but Money, Authority, and Need). Make sure the people you’re talking to have all three.

When promoting your product, don’t assume that your customers’ tastes, opinions, and habits mirror yours exactly. Choose based on what will truly appeal to them (not what appeals to you).

If you’re not sure, ask them!

Should You Specialize or Sell to Everyone

Several months ago, a new business owner on Marketing Profs Exchange (posted 5/23/08 by Raqueld) asked whether she should specialize or not. She wanted to start an event planning business to plan family events (parties, anniversaries, etc.). So far so good. Then she also wanted to use the same company name to host networking and singles events. She said that’s what she really wanted to focus on, but felt she needed to cast as wide a net as possible. She asked, “should I focus on one particular area & will I regret making my focus too broad or too narrow?”

Why You Should Specialize

Yes!!! (I said, jumping up and down). Focus on ONE thing. A company looking for an event planner will be turned off (or at least, very confused) if they come to your site and see singles events. She had five different, and unrelated markets, meaning she’d need five sets of brochures, mailing lists, keywords, and five sections on her web site (more to maintain), etc. It would be very messy, and very expensive.

Stick Out and Be Remembered

Focusing on one thing will make you stick out in people’s minds, make you more credible, and make you more money (Would you rather be a purple cow or a brown one?).

Turn a Struggling Company Into a Profitable One

A small moving company in the northeast US was fighting to compete against the big guys. They had less money for advertising, fewer trucks, and a tiny profit margin. So, they switched to shipping emergency medical supplies overnight. Now, they can charge more money, focus on pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies, and stand out instead of being overwhelmed by larger rivals. They’re now thriving.

A French woman came to the US and had to learn a whole new system, try to get credit with no record here, and fill out unfamiliar paperwork. She then wanted to help other new small business owners do the same thing. At first, she offered her services for $99 (and struggled to find customers).

Then, she decided to focus on other French (and French-speaking) people who wanted to come to the US and start businesses. She helps them with the paperwork, gets them lawyers, accountants, tells them about the US system, etc. She now charges $1,000 for the same service.

Focus Equals Money

Figure out who your ideal customer is, and concentrate on what will appeal to them, where to find them, and the best ways to reach them. Selling to everybody means selling to nobody.