Mr. Spock’s Guide to Marketing

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William S...

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the television program Star Trek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spock may seem an odd choice for tips on marketing a b to b business. Business? Marketing? He was in Star Fleet, where people (at least in the original series) rarely seemed to buy anything.

He didn’t lie (though he could exaggerate), and rarely had an emotional reaction.

He didn’t care about anything that was shiny or new unless it was logically better than what he had before.

Twenty-first century b to b businesses and marketers on the other hand, tend to get excited about new products.

We want to share them with everyone. We’ll talk about them at length to our friends, extol their virtues, pay for ads, anything.

But then, maybe there is something that business marketers can learn from Spock.

Let’s look at some of the things Spock said and I’ll show you how following his advice can make you a better marketer and bring in more business.

Clear communication

Nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans

Often, we humans tend to get caught up in our emotions.  We watch a fashion show and fall in love with a pair of boots with 7″ heels and forget you can’t actually walk in them.  Or, we get the idea to make ballet slippers for hamsters (and ignore the fact that hamsters don’t dance much).  It doesn’t matter, we love our idea and we think that others will love it too.

Sadly, the world isn’t interested in ballet slippers for hamsters. And, those runway boots are meant for show, not for sale (the models fall down a lot).

Do what you love, but check first that there’s an audience for it (particularly if you want to make money from it).

Don’t guess the facts, learn them

Insufficient facts always invite danger

When we try to market our products or services, we often guess.  We think the world will beat a path to our door for those hamster slippers. But, we never actually find out in advance.  Which means we can end up with a lot of unsold hamster footwear.

Got a great idea? Before putting out a product, ask if there’s a need for it.  Are people looking to solve a particular problem?  Does your service fix that problem?  What do other people think?  Ask them.  Do a survey.  Run a quick ad campaign on Facebook or AdWords or LinkedIn.

Listen carefully

Isn’t there some inefficiency in asking my advice on matters you’ve already decided?

Once you do that research, or put out that survey, check the answers you got.  Do people really need what you have in mind?  Did they sign up for your course? Or, are they telling you what they think you want to hear (watch out, that way leads to New Coke).

Try to mind meld

My mind to your mind.  My thoughts to your thoughts.

When Spock needed information, he could “mind meld” with someone to get it.  Sadly, most of us aren’t naturally telepathic (darn!).  However, we can try to get inside our customers’ heads in a different way.  We can talk to them. We can monitor Facebook or LinkedIn or forums where they hang out and find out what keeps them up at night.  We can ask for feedback, and look at the most common questions we get.  Then, we can adapt our messages and our products accordingly.

What’s most important to your customers?  You may value price.  Your clients may care more about convenience, or speed, or status.

Test a hypothesis

It would be illogical to assume that all conditions remain stable.

Got something that works?  Test to see if you can improve it.  Maybe a deluxe version.  Or try experimenting with a pay-what-you-like model for your e-course. Does the green “buy now” button convert better than any other color? Or would a blue one lead to more sales?

Maybe you’re naturally Spock-like.  Maybe you’re more like McCoy. Either way, Spock can be a pretty good marketing model after all.

Is Your Social Media Marketing Pulling Its Weight? What’s Your ROI?

Strongmen event: the Truck pull (no rope). UD8...

Strongmen event: the Truck pull (no rope). UD80 truck (Nissan Diesel). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Internet makes social media marketing really easy. You can create a Facebook page or an Instagram account (for free). Blogs are free (or low-cost with your own domain).  So is commenting  on posts, interacting on Google+, or Twitter, or Snapchat.  All free.

The only cost is time. And woo hoo, look ma, I’m marketing!

I realize that everyone may not like this post, but here goes.

Likes are not ROI

Is liking on Facebook really marketing? What about encouraging other people to “like” your page?  Does the time spent there (or on other social networks) get you anything tangible?  Can you tell?

“Likes” or “+1s” are easy.  Your visitors click once, they leave, and then they forget the whole thing ever happened.

I’ve seen large companies spend millions on campaigns along the lines of “hey the new ___ movie just came out, like us on Facebook if you like the movie.”

Really?  Why?

Same thing with a Klout score.  Yes, they add goodies and prizes as you reach different levels of “influence.” But couldn’t you go out and buy yourself most of those things? And the topics Klout claims you know never seem to quite match its members actual areas of expertise.

Measuring real social media marketing ROI

The real measure  of a marketing effort isn’t the number of “likes” it gets.   They’re not a measurement of success.  Likes don’t lead to anything that really matters for a business, particularly a small to medium business.  Large companies can afford to waste their money that way.  You can’t.

If you are going to use Facebook or other social networking sites, use them with a better strategy.

Do something that leads to a direct return on your effort and time.  Run a survey (with a free report on the results to the participants.  Use that information to create new products or services.

Run a series of ads offering a solution to a problem your clients have, with a link to get more information on the product.

How to find your true social media marketing ROI

If you’re running an ad, or posting somewhere, track how many clicks you got.  Then see how much each click cost you.

Of the people who clicked, how many signed up for your newsletter?  Or filled out your survey? Or turned into a lead for further follow up?

Can you follow it through a sales process?  How many of those leads turned into a sale? What was the return you got on the ad money you spent?

Measure, and track, and you’ll know if your efforts are worth their weight in gold (or just lead).


The Simple Three Step Marketing Strategy

three steps marketing successA three step marketing strategy?  It may seem crazy, but it isn’t.

Marketing strategies have a bad reputation.  That they’re complicated.  And involve large spreadsheets. And give you a headache.

However, your strategy for finding new clients and differentiating yourself, doesn’t have to look like something that escaped from a physics textbook.

In fact, it can be as simple as a single sentence.

Your marketing strategy only needs three things.  That’s right, you don’t need anything complicated.  Just three simple steps (hat tip to Michael Martine for this).

1. People

First, you’ll need people.  These are your customers.  The particular group of businesses or customers that will want your products and services.  Search for those people (and only those people).

2. Problem

Now that you’ve found your people, you’ll need a problem to solve.  What are those people struggling with?  Not enough time?  Want more sales leads?  What big, hard (for them) problem do they have, that you have the skills and knowledge to fix?

3. Product

Now that you’ve got your audience, and have found their problems, what can  you offer to fix that problem?  Can you show the lead-deprived how to get more?  Help busy CEOs produce blog content without spending 6 hours a day working on it (leaving little time for managing their companies).

No physics necessary!

To get your own, personalized three-step marketing plan, contact me here.
Image via pixabay

Postcard Marketing Secrets: How to Market Effectively with Postcards

English: "The Landing," Ipswich, MA;...

English: “The Landing,” Ipswich, MA; from a c. 1912 postcard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve got 400 emails in your inbox, and you think if you see another one you may tear your hair out.

You’re a bit tired of email marketing and you think your customers are too.

You want to add a personal touch, something that your potential customers can hold in their hands, that’s addressed directly to them.

Postcard marketing is a great solution to this.  But how do you use them?

Find the right people

As with any marketing, consider what your audience wants, and offer something that will help them (not you) solve a problem or feel happier about something.

Someone who is technically challenged and desperately needs your help setting up a blog. Or, a company that wants to get on Google+ and has no time (but plenty of money) to figure out how to use it.

Mail your card to people or businesses who tightly and closely fit your ideal. Don’t try to reach everybody; try to reach your ideal client.

Tackle the copy

The beauty of a postcard is that you don’t have to click on it, or open it. It’s immediately visible. Write the copy first (then decide on colors, size, and images, more on that further down).

A postcard is pretty small. So make every word count. Write an irresistible headline that gets them to stop and look. Put the headline on both sides – you never know which side they’ll see first. Keep your offer short. Lots of words will be hard to read in a small space. Keep it to something simple (like a free consultation).

Create desire

Know what their problems are, what they need, and how to appeal to them. Will it be humor? In-depth studies? Lots of technical specs? (Incidentally, don’t lean on these too heavily though, people buy based on emotions.

However you do it, you need to do it quickly. Whether it’s a postcard, or an ad, or even a landing page, you have to get attention right away, before that card goes in the trash or their hands move to their mice and click somewhere else.

Solve their problem

Are you solving a problem that’s been driving them nuts? Will your marketing help them believe you can fix it? Are the results credible? Something that looks too good can actually drive people away!

Make it worthwhile

Will it be worth it for them? Will they save more time, money, or effort than your solution costs?

I recently (stupidly) struggled for hours trying to get WordPress to do something. I finally had the bright idea of calling someone with better skills. He did it in an hour or so for a reasonable price.

Was it worth it? Yes! I sat back, he worked. I got what I wanted, and sent him some money. The reward (from my point of view) was much greater than the cost.

Ask for an action

Now that you’ve got the right people, offered them something they want, and convinced them that it’s worth every penny, you’ve got to call for them to act. Make it absolutely clear what they should do, and how they should do it.

Do they call? Enter a URL? Email you?

“Call XXX-XXX-XXXX for your free Surround Sound installation guide.”

Replies should be simple. A phone number or an easy-to-remember (and type) website or email address. The easier it is to respond the better.

Design the card

There’s no single perfect design (or copy, or call to action), but there are some ways that you can make your postcard more likely to get noticed.  First, make sure to include an eye-catching photo, preferably one with people in it.  People love looking at other people.  Another trick is to use a larger card (like 6 x 9).  They will cost a bit more to print and mail, but the size will help them stand out from the rest of the mail.

Full color postcards used to be expensive, but not any more. Use all those colors for a full-color photo. The text on the back of the card can be plain black (it’s easier to read).

Refine and test

Do it once, see how well it works, then do it again.

Are You Marketing the Wrong Way?

A reverse-colors "Wrong Way" sign on...

A reverse-color “Wrong Way” sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People try to sell you a lot of things nowadays.  There are ads nearly everywhere you look.  Subways, billboards, TV, even elevators and bathrooms.

You see it whether you want to or not.  Most of it is unfocused and rather random.  Ads for diapers, followed by one for beer, and then one for grass seed.

After a while, you start to tune it all out.  Rather than paying attention, you fast-forward, walk faster, or head to the kitchen for a snack.

Indundating isn’t marketing

They don’t seem to know, or care, what you want, so they bombard you with messages, hoping something sticks. Often, they repeat the same tired ad over and over (as if repetition will make it more interesting).

None of it is remarkable.

None of it is memorable.

GM just pulled its advertising from Facebook.  Nobody was buying cars from their ads.  None of the ads started a conversation; they just shouted.

It’s all failed marketing.

Trying to sell your services that way (a barrage of me! me! me!) doesn’t work. Customers aren’t there for you, you’re there for them.

Stop the failed marketing

Skip the “me! me! me!” and talk about “you! you! you!” instead.  Tell a story about previous customers used your products or services.  Describe how your customers feel after they buy from you.  Talk about what they will get from it and how your previous customers (and other people like your prospects) felt after using your services.  

Rather than “I’m a video trainer, hire me”, try “become a video star” or “go viral on Youtube.”

Notice the focus on emotions, rather than hard, cold facts.  People don’t make decisions based on facts; they make them based on feelings. Then they use the facts to justify their emotional choice.

Sell the hole, not the drill

It’s an old, old saying in marketing that you sell the result, not the how you got it: the hole, not the drill.

Processes are hard.  Results are fun. Many people want to lose weight, for example, but few people want to diet or exercise.  Exercising and dieting aren’t a lot of fun. Looking and feeling better (after you’ve lost those extra pounds is.)  Ads for diets never sell the process, only the result. What are  you really selling? Fame?  Money? Pride?  Happiness? Figure that out and your marketing will succeed.