Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘messaging

Speaking to your audience

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home_page_image1It’s been my experience that business owners that are new to marketing often make the mistake of emulating messaging or techniques that they were exposed to in mass media. Maybe it was a commercial that they liked on TV or a catchy radio spot. So, it’s their business and their marketing dollar. That’s what they want to do.

As you may remember from your English classes, when writing you need to consider your audience. In this case, it’s the business owner’s core customer base. If the business owner fails to speak to that core base, they will not be effective in their marketing efforts.

This makes the first step obvious. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER. If you don’t really know your customer, then you have a fundamental issue within your business structure. If you think you know your customer, make sure you really do. Talk to them. Spend time at your store with some of them. Make sure that what you perceive about your customer is really true. Once you know that, then you can start to craft messaging that speaks to that group.

Just because you like the messaging doesn’t mean that it’s the correct message. Test it. Ask people about what you’re doing. Check the metrics. Make sure that what you’re doing is moving the needle in some way. You might not see an immediate increase in customers, but you might be moving the needle in other ways. For example, are your customers even more satisfied? If they are, you might not be seeing an immediate influx of new customers, but you might be seeing current customers buying more. That will eventually lead to exactly the type of advertising that you can’t buy directly: word-of-mouth.

What are you doing for marketing today? Did you throughly research your customer first? Do you know what they want or do you only think you know what they want? If you researched them, know them, are you speaking directly to them? Lastly, I hate to say it, but customers are fickle. What appeals to them today doesn’t necessarily work tomorrow. You have to keep taking their temperature.

If you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes since yesterday, it’s time.

Written by Jeff York

April 4, 2009 at 12:11 am

Fixing a broken belief system

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“I tried that before and it didn’t work.”confused_man1

Think about that statement for a moment. How many times and how many ways have you heard that statement expressed. Since this is a blog about marketing and business, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but let’s take it out of context and examine it.

Ever pick up a remote and try to change the channel on your TV, but the batteries were dead? Did you resign yourself to manually changing the channels from then on or did you examine the problem and find a solution? New batteries means you fixed the situation. The problem wasn’t with the remote.

What about hiring a bad employee? Unfortunately, many of us have been in that situation before. It’s a difficult solution for all concerned, but once the remedy was executed, the situation was fixed. Does that mean hiring employees is a bad idea or did I mean that you just had to examine the problem?

The same ideas apply to marketing. Time and time again, I’ve encountered people whom might have “tried TV” or “did marketing” before and whatever they did had failed. Therefore, they jump to the incorrect conclusion that marketing doesn’t work (for them). Instead of spending the effort of finding out why it didn’t work or determining something else that might work for them, they walk away from marketing their business and handicap their business’s growth.

I highly respect the business owner that I work with who calls me up to tell me that their current spot or ad isn’t working. That gives us (both the marketing firm and the client) the chance to reexamine the messaging. Is the wording strong enough? Are we appealing to the right audience? Are we even reaching the right audience or are we using the wrong medium? This is a far better path than simply pulling the plug on a campaign and walking away from marketing altogether. Sure it harms the marketing firm some. But the biggest damage is done to the business itself. The owner no longer believes in marketing and therefore limits that business’s growth potential.

Take a look at the list of Fortune 100 companies. One of the things that they have in common (with the possible exception of Berkshire Hathaway) is an expansive marketing effort. They know and understand that growth comes from reaching new customers, announcing new offerings in the most effecient way, and branding themseleves against their competition. Even at the small business level, growth must come from telling people that you exist.

Do you have a story you can share in which your marketing efforts were falling short and you did something to turn it around? What can we all learn from examples that you can share about your business’s marketing successes?