Marketing can be divided into two main aims – attracting new customers and then keeping them. We’ll be focusing here on getting new customers. Before you spend the first penny on marketing it’s vital to get a few things clear. Follow this 7-step process and your marketing will be effective.
1. What’s the problem that you’re solving?
Be sure that you can state this clearly, and in the same language as your ideal customer would naturally use. Ask yourself honestly whether people really are looking for the solution you’re offering? There’s a danger you’re too knowledgeable to see things the way your prospects will – what would they say they are looking for?
2. What’s your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Why should someone buy from you rather than someone else? In many instances people already know a supplier, so what will you say to convince them they should switch to you? It might not be about your actual product or service – it might be about how you provide it. Avoid cliches like “we care about our customers” or “We’re the experts” because, let’s face it, your competitors would say the same thing. What really makes you different? If you’re not sure – ask a few of your best existing customers!
3. Who’s your ideal customer?
You’re about to start communicating specifically with your prospective customers, so you’d better know who they are! Are they adults or children? Men or women? Old or young? Wealthy or cost-conscious? What are their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours? Get clear on this and remain aware of who you’re speaking to when you write anything as a marketing communication.
4. Where do your ideal customers hang out?
I use the term ‘hang out’ very loosely, but this is absolutely key. When you think of the ideal customer you’ve chosen, what do they read, where do they visit, to which groups do they belong? You need to know where you’re likely to find them.
5. How could you best communicate with your ideal customer?
When you know the problem you’re solving, and who is your ideal customer, and where they hang out – you’ll have a better understanding of the best ways to communicate with them. For example, if your product is aimed at children, you might want to target parents, so schools, school magazines, toy shops, children’s clubs and the like are potential routes to consider. But if you were offering products or services for the wealthy singles market… none of those would be a great target! Write a list of the best ways you could communicate with your ideal customers.
6. Learn from competitors
Your established competitors are a great source of knowledge. What are they doing, what would you do differently or better? Don’t just copy them, but learn from them. What are five things they do well, and what are five things you’d do differently? Remember, you want to be better than them.
7. Create your marketing communication
Start writing a few headlines that would stop your ideal customer in their tracks and make them think “I need this, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for”. This is the first step – get their attention. Then state your understanding of their problem, so that they’re left feeling that you understand their need. Then tell them why you and your solution is exactly what they need. And finally – tell them what to do to take action, eg call now, complete a form, click here, give me your credit card… whatever’s appropriate. The last option wasn’t entirely serious… in reality, unless you’re in retail, people won’t buy unless you’re offering an impulse purchase. Most of the time you just want them to take the first step – to give you their contact details. Be sure to record where each prospect comes from, i.e. which of your marketing generated each lead. Once you know you have a prospect that might be your ideal customer and is interested in what you’re offering, you can move into multi-touch marketing: drip-feed relevant information that will build genuine trust in you and your offering and move them closer to making a purchase decision. Be aware that it could take 3-10 such ‘touches’, often over a long period of time, before your prospect makes the purchase. Once your prospect has made their first purchase, your next stage is to stay in touch and get repeat business in future – which is what we’ll be doing next time.
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