One of my favorite things about helping small businesses with their marketing is seeing an ugly duckling become a swan.
Businesses with no marketing materials, or ineffective ones — OK, ugly marketing materials — come to me for help. Either I help them directly, or they use my branding products, and over time, I see a transformation take place. The ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan.
Their marketing materials make them stand up straighter and feel more confident selling. They’re proud to share their web site URL. They can’t wait to press a business card into a prospect’s hand because it’s so beautiful!
I never tire of seeing this transformation. It fuels everything I do.
When business owners want to honor their business, they invest in marketing. When they take that leap of faith and spend the time and effort to give their ideas the best chance to succeed, amazing things happen.
The process always starts with defining the vision they have for their business. Who are they trying to reach? What problems or challenges does this market have to deal with? How will their business provide a solution?
Extraordinary questions lead to unforgettable solutions
Most people think the marketing process starts with talking about what their favorite color is, or what kind of logo they need. They don’t expect to spend time thinking deeply about their target market. Students taking my course were surprised to be tackling these questions at first, too.
If you want to honor your business by creating unforgettable marketing solutions that express your vision and attract the kind of audience you want, you can’t start with mundane questions.
If you want to create targeted, effective marketing pieces that move your market to act — to buy, sign up, take action or promote a cause — you have to understand intimately who they are. And that starts with asking good questions.
1. Who do I serve?
Who exactly do you want to reach? What gender are they? What age group do they belong to? What’s their marital status and education level? Are they in a particular geographic location, or are they all over?
If you’ve been in business a while, you may have started out with a market in mind. As the months and years have passed, your original market may have changed. Is it time to revisit your description and update it with who your customers really are?
Think about who wants and needs what you offer. Form a clear picture in your mind of this person. Imagine what a day in their lives must be like. Then speak to them, and only them, with every word you write, and every image you use.
2. What do they struggle with?
When you imagine the daily lives of your target market, think about what they struggle with. What causes them stress? What keeps them up at night? If they could make a wish, what would they wish for?
The answers to these questions will lead you directly to …
3. How can I help them?
Once you understand what they’re struggling with, think about how your business could help them. Will your product or service bring them more security? Make them more attractive to the opposite sex? Offer them greater peace of mind? Prestige? Money? Time?
It’s important to define the benefit your offering delivers. Your marketing will always be more effective if you emphasize the true benefit rather than the features alone. Remember to keep asking “And that’s important because?” until you can’t answer any more.
Do you honor your business by investing time and effort in your marketing materials? What helps you to get to know your market better? I’d love to talk about it in the comments.
And now, a favor. I installed fancy-schmancy share buttons below each of my blog posts. Would you mind sharing this post if you enjoyed it? You have a choice of where you can send it: Twitter, Facebook and a host of others. I’m trying to get the word out, so if you can help me spread it I’d appreciate it!