Effective marketing translates into success. With marketing, you inform customers about your products. And you convince them to buy from you; not your competitors.
Businesses that market poorly yield inadequate revenues. They fail to cover their costs. And consequently, they seize to exist.
If you want to succeed, take marketing seriously.
But I must be frank with you—marketing is difficult. It demands researching your customers, competitors, and market conditions. It demands that you fully understand your product. And it demands that you create strategies to induce consumers to buy. Strategies that make you lead your competitors without drying your purse.
In this post, I will show you how to market effectively.
With that, let’s quit wasting time. Get a pen and a paper—here is how you can market like a pro.
1. Pick a Protagonist
Great stories depend on strong protagonists.
Effective marketing is no different. Know the hero in your story before you sell him your product.
Why do you need a hero?
The answers are many.
First, as a small business, your resources are inadequate to cover every citizen on this planet. So spending smartly and wisely is a necessity.
The second reason relates to people’s broad interests. Your business can’t stretch enough to fulfill all these without breaking. It would be like turning every character in a story into a hero.
So among the 7.4 billion of us walking the earth, pick one and focus on him or her. This is your protagonist.
With your view narrowed, you can better understand the needs of this one customer. And you can give him the most satisfying product or service, and in a way that competitors can’t match.
But what about all those who would be your potential customers? Are you not going to lose opportunities?
Don’t worry about any of these questions. The protagonist represents all those who are like him. And similar people share similar hobbies, occupations, spending habits, etc. So by attracting the protagonist only, you are appealing to all those who share his interests.
But protagonist-picking is only the tip of the iceberg. You need to immerse your eyes under the water to discover what makes him tick, without overlooking even the smallest detail.
Know his age, gender, status, hobbies, and occupation. Know when he goes to bed. What smartphone he uses. What radio stations he listens to. What his idea of fun is.
You may include any other point you deem necessary.
This is called segmentation, a process which sieves appropriate customers from the inappropriate ones.
Segmentation narrows your focus and leads to better understanding of your customers. It informs you the quality, features, and price your customer is ready to take. It also determines the best language to influence him as well as the best advertising channel.
The result? You will save money and boost your convention. And this is a practical way to reduce costs, which, in turn, increases profits.
Discovering all this information requires market research. You can stalk your customers on social media, have one-on-one meetings with them, etc. And if you have the money, you can hire a research expert to help.
2. Understand Your USP
Why should consumers buy from you?
The answer lies in your USP, short for Unique Selling Proposition.
The USP represents the benefits consumers will miss for not buying your product. And this is important if you are to market like a pro.
As stated in my other article, “how businesses can be unique,” being different is one of the best ways to compete. This fames your businesses for one particular thing. And you focus to be the best at that thing. Trying to be known for everything results in being known for nothing.
With uniqueness comes better conventions because customers know what you do. They come to you knowing what to expect.
So how can you understand your USP?
Here are steps to help:
♦ List the things your protagonist wants from your product. Think of these wants as his biggest problems that your product will solve.
♦ List the things your business is good and bad at. Make another list of the best features and weaknesses of your product.
♦ Identify at least 2 competitors. List the things they are good and bad at. On each competitor’s list, include the benefits and weaknesses of its product.
♦ Pick the most important wants on the protagonist’s list. Highlight the ones your product has, but that are lacking to your competitors. Wants that are common to both you and your competitors will be perceived as standard, and as such, will not make great selling points.
However, I must warn that this exercise is not easy. It will take time, probably days, to show results. The more thought you put into it, the better.
With this done, I advise you to keep changing or improving your USP. Your competitors will try to catch up.
3. Craft Messages and Choose a Marketing Channel
So far, all you have done has prepared you for a great marketing campaign. And here comes the fun part: creating marketing messages and deciding the channel of communication to use.
Let’s start with messages.
Your protagonist will only know about your product if you tell her about it. Don’t assume she will somehow discover it on her own.
So you need to take your marketing messages to her in a way that keeps her attention. She is a busy person. And she will ignore anything that does not seem to belong in her world.
Here is a part that marketers get wrong: They try to fit the protagonist into the product. Don’t make that mistake.
Instead, tell the protagonist how the product fits in her life. Tell her how it will make her a better person, reduce her pain, or increase her productivity. Tell her how she will be smarter, stronger, or richer.
To achieve this, don’t talk about features. Talk about benefits.
A simple trick of turning features into benefits is the SWAT (So, what?) method. Here is how it works. Assume your product is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. By using SWAT, here is how it will look:
Customer: So, what?
You: These headphones block 98% of outside noise.
Customer: So, what?
You: You will be able to listen to music clearly on low volume.
Customer: So, what?
You: You will protect your ears from damage.
Customer: So, what?
You: You will get old with your ears as healthy as those of a newborn.
If the customer can’t ask So, what again, then you have exhausted all the benefits in a feature. Move on to the next one (you need to use SWAT with every feature on your product).
When done, look at your answers to the So, What question. Choose only those you believe will matter to your customer.
Put these answers into a message that grabs attention, raises curiosity, and induces a desire to own your product. At the end, include a call to action, which in most cases is buy.
Here are a few more tips for effective marketing messages:
♦ Use the power of emotions – messages that invoke emotions are usually successful. According to studies, 90% of buying decisions are guided by emotions, not logic.
♦ Add a fun element – this is a great way to attract attention. Use your imagination to make your ads fun.
♦ Use attractive pictures and graphics – people respond to images better than just plain text. So use beautiful and attention grabbing graphics if possible.
Another thing to think of is how to carry your message to the protagonist. Will you use email, SEO, social media, print media, or radio ads?
Your answer should be what your protagonist uses. If she loves Facebook, then consider investing in Facebook marketing. If she loves listening to the radio, then put your messages on her favorite stations.
The channel you choose will determine how to craft your messages.
4. Monitor Your Success
Most young marketers fold their hands after launching their campaigns. They see money pouring into their wallets like water on a waterfall. But this is a mistake.
Marketing campaigns are seldom perfect. As such, you need to monitor their performance; otherwise, they may cost more than the sales they are generating.
Another reason to monitor is because of your competitors. They will be watching you. And will try to copy your success. So you need to keep on improving.
Before launching a campaign, it helps to know how many customers you currently have.
A surge in sales volume usually entails a successful campaign. And no change may mean your messages have not reached the intended audience or are inappropriate, at which you must make amends.
In most cases, however, don’t expect to monitor your campaign with pinpoint accuracy. Most advertising platforms, like radio or newspapers, don’t offer that luxury. So you may have to rely on estimations. Social media, SEO, and email provide more reliable data.
I am sure you now know how to market like a pro. As you saw in this article, marketing is hard work. And it needs to be taken seriously. If you treat it like an afterthought, your sales will suffer. And your competitors will take this as an opportunity to defeat you.
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