How To Design Successful Marketing Approach
Great marketing comes down to three essential steps. Identify your best customer or potential customers, develop an offer they will find nearly irresistible, and then hunt for them at a variety of waterholes or places where you know they will be or where they show up on a regular basis. Marketing can be boiled down to the “3 M’s” in the following diagram.
You can see that the “3M’s” of marketing include the Market itself or “who” your customers are, the Message or “what” you want them to know and the Medium or “how” you plan to reach them. We’ll take a more detailed look at each part.
The Market or your customers are who you sell to. Your products and services have been designed with a particular customer in mind. And, by offering your products for sale you are solving a specific problem or meeting a need for your customers. The essence of your business is to provide a product or service that is a solution to a problem that your customers have. There are general needs and there are more specific needs. Let’s take the case of the plumber mentioned in the chart above. Plumbers have services they offer to bring water to particular locations. So, what is the problem that the plumber solves? In a general sense, it is the need to have water in the house or office building. How would you get water without plumbing and the services of a good plumber? You would have to carry it in buckets from the nearest source – rivers, lakes or other fresh water supplies. If you decide to build a new office building, let’s say a two story building with 20 offices per floor, then you know that the building will need water. Water will need to be available in washrooms on each floor. There will need to be drinking fountains and tap water available as well. There are building codes that have to be followed for your new building, which include specifications on water availability. In order to provide water to your building, a plumber will be needed – a professional, licensed plumber to get water to your building from the closest available source or water lines.
Specifically, though, the plumber you are looking for is not just any plumber. You need to find a plumber that is experienced in contributing to building new office buildings. So, plumbers have specialties. In thinking about the Market for plumbing services, some plumbers will decide to specialize. Some of these specialties may include:
There are important distinctions between each of these “markets” or segments within the overall plumbing industry or business. Each market has its own set of customers that have a similar problem or need. The plumbers that specialize in each market need different skills, licenses, and knowledge about how to provide these services.
From the plumber’s perspective, his or her “market” is made up of the customers that have the problem he can solve. If you have a broken water fountain in your 5 year-old office building, you would not look for a plumber in the home remodeling business. Likewise, if you have a broken faucet at home, you would not want to engage a plumber that only has commercial, new construction experience. That is why it’s important to understand your market, the problems you are solving, and how to identify potential customers.
Let’s look at another example. Broadly, there are lots of businesses that sell food to eat. As a restaurant you can’t offer every kind of food, so you specialize. Take for example a pizza restaurant. The people that would be interested in purchasing pizza for any given meal will come from the entire set of people that are thinking about buying food for that meal. But, there is a subset of people that will want pizza. Not everyone has an interest in pizza for lunch or pizza for dinner. How do you get a better understanding of who your target customer is? One of the first things you can do is take a look at the top 10% of your current customers.
There are several ways to define the criteria you use to identify the customers that are most important to your business. For example, you can look at sales and revenue. In addition, you might look at profitability. If some customers require more service or more of your time, that extra service may lower your profits from that customer or that type of customers. Typical information you need to identify your top customers includes:
From your sales files or sales database identify the customers that bought the most from your business recently. Look at sales over the last 6 months and pull out the top dollar sales or transactions for each product or service that you sell as well as your profits from each sale.
Once you know who these customers are, you can look at their characteristics and identify common themes or elements. The idea here is to develop a profile of your top customers based on their common characteristics. An example of what this profile might look like is below.
These are some commonly used demographics or customer characteristics you can use to help identify the top 10% of your customers.
Once you’ve identified these top customers and their characteristics, the next step in your marketing planning will be to decide on what your message to them will be. The message part of marketing draws these customers and potential customer in to your business. You have to construct an offer for your top customers powerful enough to bring them to your business rather than go somewhere else. For example, in the pizza business, there are many restaurants and locations where people can buy pizza. What is it about your product that will bring customers in to your location when they are ready to buy pizza?
What you tell your customers about your business and your products is the beginning of how you realize your profit and dividend goals. Messaging has to be consistent, truthful, and compelling. If you can solve a problem and provide a solution for your customers, they will buy from you. Not only will they buy from you, but they will recommend your business to others and they will buy from you more than once. This base of good customers will provide you with business growth now and in the future. So, it’s worth taking the time to get your messaging right.
Initially, you should think about the problem you are solving for the market. For example, in our pizza restaurant you are providing food which takes care of people’s hunger. And, we all know that hungry people have several choices of where they might go to eat. This is your competition and you need to know what their offer or messages are too. You need to provide a solution and the messaging you create will describe to your market and potential customers how you can solve their problem. Not only can you show how you and your business will solve the problem, but you can also show how much better your solution is than your competitor’s.
There are several ways to create great messaging to get BIG results. One good way to communicate with customers about how effective your solution is will be to provide them with real-world examples, case studies, or testimonials from your satisfied customers. This kind of social proof has proven to be effective in any number of situations for lots of different types of businesses. If you think about yourself as a customer too, if you are like most of us, being able to see the results of another person’s experience helps make our decision or choice easier.
Specifically, if you can draw out comments, testimonials or case studies from your best customers, this will help you with your marketing messages even more. One way to do this is to ask your top customers a set of “love/hate questions”. For example, “what do you love about our products?” (or you can substitute restaurant, services, or another word that describes your business) can provide you with rich detail that you can then use to write great messages. The second question you need to ask your top customers is “what do you hate about our products?” (again, you can substitute other words for products and also include your store, customer service, selling practices and so on to get more detail). The answer to this second question will be as revealing as the first. Many times the answers to these two questions will provide you with more than enough material – and themes – from your top customers that it will be easy for you to create great messaging.
Messaging and writing compelling messages to your customers has a few elements that you need to include.
Remember too that not everyone is a potential customer for your business. That is a difficult principle to hang onto sometimes. We would all like everyone to buy what we have for sale, but the fact is that not everyone is interested in our products and services. For example, not everyone likes pizza. And, some people are allergic to the ingredients used to make pizza or have other issues with consuming products made with certain ingredients. Other people are perhaps on diets that restrict them from eating pizza. You can think of many other reasons why some people, or some portion of the market looking for something to eat, will not qualify as your potential customers.
Part of what this means, though, is that you need to speak directly to your constituency or the portion of the market that does want pizza or would consider buying pizza. You need to convince this group or some portion of this group that your solution to their problem is their best choice and best value. We’ll cover this topic in more detail later in the book as we get deeper into how to create the best or most compelling offers for your business.
The third part of our approach will be to consider the medium or where you want to communicate with your customers and potential customers. At this point you know your customers pretty well. In fact, you know who they are and what they need (or want). In order to get them to buy from your business all you need to know now is where they can be reached. These three points are basically the same as the 3 Ms of Marketing – the market (who), the message (what) and the medium (where).
To focus more specifically on the medium and where to reach your best customers or best target customers think about what media your targets are most likely to read or use. For example, nearly everyone is using the Internet these days to do research and look up business information. But, the internet is a big place. Do you know where your customers go to look for business information? Do they use Google? More than likely they do. One way you can find out for certain, though, is to ask a few customers. The next time you are in front of customers – either in your store or as part of your regular business – ask them where they found out about your business. Also ask them what kind of information they were looking for. When you have talked to a few customers, especially if you can talk to a few of your best customers, you will have a good perspective on where they go for information. The point is that you can then use that “medium” to communicate directly with your customers. For example, as most people use Google search (or maybe Yahoo or MSN search), you can advertise your business there.
One of the main things to keep in mind about marketing on the internet is that online marketing is not really very different from traditional offline marketing. By offline marketing we mean traditional media like television, radio, newspapers, etc. When you place an ad for your business in one of these mediums you have to go through a process of deciding what to say, how to say it, and what you want your customers to do. The same applies on the internet. There is one key difference though about internet marketing. Things happen much quicker online than they do offline. For example, you could write an email ad tonight, send it to your customer list before you leave the office or store and there would be responses in your email inbox in the morning when you get to work. Traditional media takes much longer. Due to this compressed timing you need to be even more focused with marketing your business online.
The best way to present your marketing message on the internet is to have one call to action for your customers. Limiting what you put on your website or sales page to one “ask” of your customers will be more difficult than you might think. You know your business really well and if you are like most of us you want to tell your customers as much as you can about how great your business is. Keep in mind though that the latest research shows that on average, each person that visits a website spends 8 seconds on a website then moves on. So you have only 8 seconds (this is an average so some people will spend more time and some will also spend less than the 8 second average) to talk to your customers and convince them to take an action. Keeping your website simple with one call to action and a linear flow is about all people will take time to evaluate online anyway.
There are a few additional guidelines for marketing on the internet that you can use for your business. Make sure that your website has been evaluated for Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Without this key part of the process, search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN will not find your website as easily. If the search engines do not find your site, then when your best customers or target customers are searching on the web then other sites will show up in the search results before yours. Most of the tools and techniques for SEO are tied to the specific words you use or content you have on your website’s first or landing page. This process will typically focus on increasing your relevance to specific search terms or phrases. SEO can also remove any barriers that may exist to indexing by search engines. Search engines index sites to be able to find them when specific terms are typed into a search box. The SEO process can be somewhat difficult and often does involve the HTML code and other coding of your website and its pages. If you do not have expertise in this area, it is well worth hiring an expert. Paying for this service once will provide you with a website that has maximum potential to reach your target customers as they search the internet.
Another key part of your internet or online marketing will include Search Engine Marketing or SEM. The difference here is that SEM includes paying for traffic to come to your website. SEO on the other hand drives free traffic or unpaid search traffic to your site. One of the most popular SEM tools is Google Adwords. Because Google has such a large presence on the internet, they can advertise in lots of places online. When you set up a Google Adwords account and pay for advertising of your specific keywords or search terms, your website will be placed in front of many, many people. Depending on your budget and how much you pay, you can increase traffic to your website significantly. And this paid traffic will be highly targeted and relevant to your business, which is what you want from any medium that your best customers use on a regular basis.
You will also need to have a way to communicate with your customers online in a regular, systematic way. One of the best ways to do this is to set up an autoresponder. An autoresponder is simply a computer program or software that responds automatically to email. These programs will also send email messages based on a preset schedule and a pre-programmed list. So you can send messages and offers to your customer list and set the software up to respond as well. One of the easiest ways to communicate with your top customers and customer targets on a regular basis is with the use of autoresponders.
Another example type of communication with customers comes from cell phones. Most people – and this is a general statement about most of us – have and use cell phones today. In New Zealand and Australia (as well as several other major world economies) there are actually more cell phones than there are people. So we can say that the penetration of cell phone in these two markets is actually 100%. Do your best customers or best target customers have and use their cell phones regularly? Certainly the answer is yes. Is there a way you can leverage this medium to reach your customers with your marketing message? The answer here is yes too.
What is popularly known as SMS technology (which stands for Short Message Service) has now been standardized across multiple cell phone platforms and service providers. What this means to you and your business is that it’s now possible to reach your customers on their cell phones and send them a “short message” about your business, your promotions, or other parts of your market message. A point worth recognizing too about SMS marketing and reaching your customers by cell phone is that most services are internet based. In fact, you can send a short message to your customers, direct them to your website front page or landing page, and provide them with a 0800 toll-free number to call for follow up. So, many of the traditional marketing tools and tactics – clear headline, focused message, and call-to-action – not only apply to SMS marketing but are actually essential. Because of the size of most cell phone screens these messages have to be kept short and simple. You will have to stay focused on the key points you are communicating to your customers and what you are asking them to do.
Marketing is really fairly simple. There are 3 basic principles to follow in all of your marketing programs. To successfully market your business, you need to:
Yours for business success,