by Whitney Hahn
So you've come to the conclusion that you need to market your service or product. Great! Proper marketing can lead to great rewards. Improper marketing, however, can waste a ton of money.
How do you avoid the pitfalls? Proper planning.
Some people get so excited about the ad, commercial or flyer that they don't really think through the whole conversion process. It's not enough to have people notice your marketing; you want them to act on it in very specific ways. Not planning the whole life cycle of your marketing is a bit like planning the wedding, but not the marriage. The day after all the excitement is over, you may be left with nothing more than a headache and a big bill.
But you can avoid lots of wasted time and effort by asking (and answering) these four questions. It's a list of questions we go over with all of our new clients and many have felt it has brought great focus and accountability to the decisions they were making. Don't let this short list fool you. Knowing the answers to these questions clarifies your business and marketing goals to you AND your prospects.
1. What are the benefit(s) to your customers of doing business with you over going to another provider or not doing anything at all?
This is sometimes called your "Unique Selling Proposition” (USP) and clearly defines what you have going on. Notice it asks about benefits, not features, and they are very different animals. Features are like technical spec sheets. Benefits answer the questions, "So what? What's in it for me?"
If you were picking a spouse, you might describe their features as tall, dark and handsome. But the benefits are really what sells them to you - they make you laugh, feel secure, feel important and loved and so on.
For example, I could talk to you all day about our 3CCD cameras and how many terrabytes of storage space we have and what whiz-bang software we used to edit with and your eyes would quickly roll into the back of your head. But, I if talk to you about a fun, collaborative working relationship where we coach you through the entire process and suggests ways to enhance your overall marketing goals through video, then we might have a conversation.
Determine what makes working with you unique and how it benefits a prospect. If you can do that, they are far more likely to become clients.
2. What business are you in?
Now, don't say "I'm in the widget business." This is really asking about your position or identity in the marketplace and how your services make the user's life better. These goes hand in hand with the benefits list.
If I say that I am in the video production business, I haven't done a thing to differentiate myself from the competition or tell a prospect how I can help them solve a problem. However, if I say that we help entrepreneurs establish themselves as experts in their fields while generating passive income though DVD sales, then I've given prospects a very specific example of how working with me could benefit them and make their life better.
Give this one some thought. Of all the questions on the list, this one usually takes the most time to answer with clarity. It is time well spent.
3. What is your target market? (age, sex, geography, income, etc.)
Asking this question helps you avoid disconnects between your message and your Audience by putting their "face" clearly in your mind. As you prepare your campaign, you will have a thousand decisions to make - everything from written copy to musical underscores - and you will need to keep the prospects in mind. Don't jam a lot of words into a small space if you are trying to reach seniors. Don't use country music in the background if you are aiming at a young, urban demographic.
Remember, when you go fishing, you don't have to like the bait, the fish do.
Knowing as much as you can about your target demographic will also help you make decisions on where and in what way your message should be heard. Your favorite stream is not going to be effective if there are no "fish" there.
4. What action do you want a prospect to take as a result of seeing your marketing message?
I know what you are thinking. "Buy my product, silly." Yes and no. That would be like bumping into someone on the street and then asking them to move in. While that would be great in business, most of us don't work that way. Chances are there will be a least one more step between hearing/seeing your message and making a purchase from you.
So, to follow the dating analogy, the prospect might decide to have coffee with you (visit your website and opt-in for your VIP coupon list), then visit later for a sandwich (stop by your store to get more information or consult with you), then ask their friends what they think of you... you get the idea.
This question gets you to think about, plan for and implement that series of "dates" so that you can build a relationship and make the sale. People would much rather buy from friends than strangers.
There they are - the four questions that can make the difference between running an ad campaign and creating a marketing magnet. Please enjoy responsibly!
Whitney Hahn is the business manager and director of Digital Bard Video. Web. Marketing. in Frederick, MD. She is a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and uses her skills to bring more value to her client's projects. Whitney may be reached at 240-566-5931 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.