These principles have proven to be guide posts for successful brands
By Phillip Scroggin II | Managing Director, Sol Insights
Marketing is complex. There are so many voices, noises, and influences bombarding SMB business development leaders, it will make your head spin. For me, as a student of this crazy business discipline, some of the cream has risen to the top. I'd like to share with you my favorite "marketing maxims" to guide your marketing strategy, tactics, and entire program. Here we go...
Be a media company
I believe it was Gary Vaynerchuk who hit me with this, but other marketing geniuses have said similar things. Today, consumers and organizations alike have very limited attention spans, are over-saturated with noise, and are savvy buyers who want to do their own research and pick from a multitude of options. To win in today's marketplace, you have to build a relationship with an audience before you can earn their business as customers.
With the internet (especially Amazon), most industries are in global pitched-battle (whether they realize it or not), so you must strategically get your message out there. Moreover, you must also lead with entertainment and/or education before going directly into the pitch. At least that's what businesses with bigger aspirations must do. This top-funnel marketing focus has proven to bring in more loyal customers over time in inbound marketing programs.
Bruce Lee once said, "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." Are you posting on Facebook? So are all your competitors. How about a nice website? *Yawn*. We have to find ways to be the fish that sticks out in the gargantuan sea. Make it fun - make it you - but make it resonate with your target demographic so you can build those connections.
What is the one thing your marketing program delivers to your target market which they can't get from any of the "alternatives"? Do that, and your company becomes irreplaceable.
Talk problems, not solutions
This is the salesman coming out in me, but (scout's honor) I heard it reinforced on a prominent marketing podcast. We too often jump to the solution while forgetting to first establish with the audience that 1. they have a problem, 2. it's costly to delay addressing it, and 3. we can sympathize/empathize with their problem (we see and know them).
I once read a famous sales book by David Sandler, You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar. In one section, he urges the sales pro to never get ahead of the prospect, "pushing" them to the sale. Rather, implement a guided pull where you help them figure it out "themselves" and let them retain a sense of control over the buyer journey. All this to say, resist the tendency in your content marketing to constantly pitch your company's features and benefits. Make your top and even mid-funnel content about the customer, not you!
If you can first build trust with the audience by focusing on them and their problems, they will start their research and engagement process with you to evaluate whether they can hire your offering to solve their problem.
"Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone." Stories have power. From childhood stories like The Tortoise and The Hare to World-impacting literature like The Holy Bible, stories have been a primary vehicle to carry values, principles, and wisdom throughout history. For the same reason students would rather watch Hamilton (2020) than read a text book on the same Founding Father, customers would rather experience cool brand stories than be accosted by your "car sales" pitch.
"How do I do this" you may ask. Customer testimonials are powerful stories. The story of how and why you started your business (or joined the mission of another) is another. How about a fictional narrative on an avatar based on real challenges you saw in your target market which lead you to launch a new offering? Our infographics and sales promos will come and go, but stories last forever.
Pay it forward
I watched a YouTube consultation by Gary Vaynerchuk with several entrepreneurs. During the session, he stated that if it were legal for him to give out samples from his wine business, he would do it all the time! I had a phone conversation with Marjorie Young of Carriage Trade Public Relations at the time of the release of her book, Reputation Matrix. She mentioned that many were perplexed at the thought of a PR professional seemingly giving away the "secret sauce" of her livelihood via a DIY public relations guide book. Her response? If you pay it forward, you will be rewarded.
I've had struggles (still do) with giving people my "secret sauce", but frankly, it's the best way to build relationships with your target market. You don't have to give away the whole cow, but your marketing program needs to have some free-and-no-strings-attached milk to give away to target customers. I mentioned earlier that customers have numerous options at their disposal - your "milk" can help you stick out of the crowd.
Their likely response? "If this company can provide me with so much value for $0, imagine what they could do for me if I paid them!"
Know your customers
This is the secret sauce to marketing success. If you want to, you can literally drive yourself insane with all the latest and greatest this-and-that of marketing...but it all comes down to your customer. Who is your ideal customer? What do they do? What is their family dynamic? What are their hobbies, fears, and needs? Where do they go for entertainment and news? If you can find the answers to these questions, your marketing program becomes much simpler and much more powerful.
Why do you think the Fortune companies spend so much money on "personalization", analytics, Big Data, consulting, competitor research, and customer profiling? They realize if they know their target customer better than anyone else...and act accordingly...they win.
Want to better know your target market?