The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 27, 2007 • Issue 07:08:02
A real-life approach
Editor's Note: The Green Sheet is delighted to welcome back Nancy Drexler as an esteemed contributing writer. Her articles about many aspects of marketing appeared in our pages from 2004 through 2006. To locate them in our archive, visit www.greensheet.com and enter her name in the search field that appears just below Fast Finder.
Marketing relies heavily on common sense. And all of us have at least some of that. Marketing also changes daily as products and services evolve, the competitive environment shifts, and the means for communicating and receiving messages improve.
None of us, really, can always be the expert.
So, since you likely know a thing or two about marketing, I've thought long and hard about what kind of wisdom to impart. I've decided that if you're reading this, you know marketing can be an invaluable asset to any business.
I assume you want to learn but don't necessarily want a basic marketing primer. There are many books and Web sites that can teach you the ABCs. I even did some of that in my last series of articles in The Green Sheet.
I also believe you want the latest information about what works. And I know your time is limited; you're really interested only in practical, usable information.
It's all about them
In my 30 years of professional marketing work, I've learned that a little bit of knowledge and research, combined with a lot of common sense, is really all you need to become a great marketer.
So, here is my No. 1 most important marketing lesson: Marketing is not, I repeat, not about telling someone who you are and what you can do. It is not about you.
Marketing is about knowing your market. It is about your prospects, your target audience, the people on the receiving end of your messages.
How are they seeing you, hearing you, understanding you? Why are they, or are they not, paying attention? How can you get them to feel, believe and act the way you want them to?
All communications speak to recipients, one person at a time. Whether you are delivering your messages via e-mail, a print ad, sales piece or any other form of communication, your primary interest is not what you want to say, but what the person on the receiving end is ready, willing and able to hear.
What will make them stop and pay attention? What will make them continue to read? What will they focus on? What will they think about you?
And, most importantly, what will they do after they turn the page or click on the next e-mail?
Your goal as a marketer begins with an understanding of selective attention, perception and retention. Following are questions to consider in each of these areas, followed by some thoughts to point you in the right direction.
Questions: How do you get each person in your target audience to stop and pay attention? How do you stand out, get noticed and make a difference?
Insights: In a crowded field or marketing environment, there is really only one way to become visible: Understand what your prospects need and offer it in a way that is easy to grasp, enticing and better than that of your competitors.
This means not only must your product or service offer something better, but also the way in which you offer it must be better: The physical presentation of your message must be striking to capture a reader's or viewer's attention.
Visually, this means the message must draw prospects in and direct them through the message. To accomplish this, simplicity rules. Clutter is distracting.
Good design is not just art, but also science. It makes it easy to see what you are offering, who you are and how to take the next step.
Your words must promise a benefit that speaks to readers clearly and concisely. And remember, it is not about you. It doesn't matter how you want to look or if you like a certain turn of phrase.
Your main benefit -- your unique selling proposition (USP) -- must be the hero of the message. Identify your USP, and convey it clearly and easily. Everything else is secondary. If you try to say too much, you'll end up saying nothing.
Question: How do you conceive, design and write a message that will speak to the needs of your audience in a way that makes targeted individuals comfortable and encourages them to see you the way you want to be seen?
Insights: This speaks to brand. You must create a brand identity that defines who you are, what you do and how you do it. Then, everything you communicate must fit within this brand. In that way, you build your brand.
Colors communicate. Words communicate. Messages communicate. Every person who answers your phones communicates. If these factors work together, they establish and re-establish your brand.
People begin to recognize your name or logo and associate it with certain positive feelings. If you deliver what you promise in a manner consistent with the way you promised it, these feelings will be reinforced and become entrenched.
And it is precisely these feelings that become your brand: how people see you and how they feel about you. This is in your control. It is also too precious to misuse, undo or waste.
Question: How do you get your prospects to place you in their mental file cabinets so that when the need for your product or service arises, you will own a "share of mind"?
Insights: If you build your brand properly and repeatedly, people will remember you. This takes consistency and repetition over time.
Although only 2% of your prospects may respond initially to an individual ad or direct response campaign, ultimately they will retain at least part of your USP and brand identity, along with the feelings they associate with it.
You never know when a prospect will want to make a change. If you've established a brand in their minds, they will think of you when the time comes.
That is lesson No. 1: Figure out who you want to be.
Base this on the needs of your audience. Make sure you can deliver on your promises. Then communicate this brand, one benefit at a time, clearly and concisely and repeatedly. And you'll be on your way.
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