Marketing rarely fails because of a lack of interest, ideas or even adequate resources. However, it always fails when it doesn’t turn prospective buyers into believers.
Marketing derails when it’s little more than a series of loosely strung together and uncoordinated tactics — email campaigns, promotions, presentations, blogs, social media engagements, charitable support, newsletters, collateral pieces, webinars, events and all the other stuff intended to “get the message out.”
While this is a high activity picture, it’s also a fruitless one. It helps explain why marketing budgets are cut and market managers last a year or two and move on. Then, the story is repeated, once again.
There’s another way to look at marketing: helping customers enhance their lives and fulfill their aspirations. When someone makes a purchase, large or small, it’s as if they’re saying, “I believe.” Far more than spending money, they are putting their trust in a business or a brand.
So, what will make marketing work? What should a company do to get its marketing on the right track and keep it there? The answer is in asking the right questions:
1. What’s your message?
Or, do you have one that everyone in the company can verbalize if asked? Most importantly, could your customers express it? Like so many other companies, you may be letting others define your message. If so, it’s time to take charge. That begins with asking questions and gathering information. Here are a few starters:
- Why should anyone want to do business with you?
- What sets your company apart from the competition, if anything?
- What are your customers’ complaints? What do they like about you?
How do you know what your customers think about you? Ask them. Get on the phone, use surveys, or, better yet, go see some of them. That’s right, in person. They’ll get excited to see you, instead of an invoice.
By now, you may have figured it out. Marketing has nothing to do with your company or what it sells. Marketing is 100 percent about what customers want and what’s in it for them. To put it bluntly: If you talk about your company, visitors will run. Why? They care about themselves. We can learn from companies with a customer-focused message:
- Walmart. Save money. Live better.
- Toyota. Let’s go places.
- Burger King. Made to order.
- Coca-Cola. Taste the feeling.
- Capital One. What’s in your wallet?
Now, take it a step further. Focus on what’s important to your customers, such as responsiveness, transparency, ease of access, keeping promises, helpfulness and caring.
Next, come up with four or five customer-focused messages. Then, survey your customers and prospects, asking them to select the message that best represents your company. Along with obtaining valuable information, you are letting them know you care.