Are you tired of generic marketing and ready to market to a higher standard? Have you seen my Homepage?
Editor’s note: This is a previous homepage design.
It features a brave little goldfish with a shark fin strapped on — trying to stand out in a vast sea of competitors.
I chose that image because it depicts what a lot of us feel as we try to build our online brand. We worry we’ll never be seen and our message won’t find its way to the right people.
There are three ways to market to a higher standard that will make your business stand out — guaranteed. And today’s post is going to spell them out so you can put them into practice today.
WARNING: These ideas will challenge you to go beyond where you’re aiming now. You may need to step out of your comfort zone and push yourself to do things differently.
I promise that if you market your business to a higher standard than everyone else, your business will stand out.
Of all the online marketing strategies that the gurus peddle, this one actually works.
Committing to a “higher standard of marketing” will push you beyond your limits. It may feel deeply uncomfortable.
The discomfort happens because you’ll need to navigate uncharted territory. I’m asking you to forge your own path — not follow someone else’s.
To stand out, it’s not enough to get your website and your offers up to your competitors’ standards. It’s not enough to look and sound like you’re at their level. Those aren’t the standards to aim for.
Aim instead to exceed those standards.
That means you:
- Look at competitor websites and say, “How can I make my site better, clearer, and more helpful?”
- Look at competitor online offers and wonder, “How can I serve the same audience — and deliver beyond their wildest dreams?”
- Look at competitor marketing and ask, “How are these messages not helping the audience?”
Ready to hold your marketing to a higher standard? There are three places to focus your attention.
1. Reside inside the heads and hearts of the people you aim to serve
Want to build something people love?
Get to know your ideal customer first.
What does an ideal customer look like? It’s someone who:
- Has a problem and is aware of it
- Wants and needs a solution to the problem
- Has the money to pay for a solution
“Getting to know them” means understanding them as well as you understand a good friend. It means knowing what drives them, what they yearn for, what they dream of.
Go beyond demographic details like gender, age, and geographic area. What I want you to focus on is the stuff that makes us who we are as human beings.
How can you get inside your ideal customer’s head?
Start by paying attention wherever you find your ideal customer: on your website, on the social media platforms you use, and in any communication you have with them by email, phone, or forum. Listen closely to the challenges they share, the questions they ask.
Then do this …
Higher standard marketing homework #1
Open an Evernote note, a blank word processor page, or grab a blank sheet of paper. Use the prompts below and quickly answer these three questions:
- Your ideal customer is relaxing after a long week. They’re confessing their challenges to a close friend. What is pouring out of them? What’s bothering them the most today?
- Your ideal customer is in the middle of working on their challenges. They’re spending time on … what? What will help them transform their current situation?
- Your ideal customer is enjoying their success. They’ve made it past their most difficult challenges. What does that look like? How does it feel?
Your job is to offer this transformation.
Don’t forget this! Market to a higher standard by aiming to deliver true transformation to your ideal customer.
2. Dare to market and sell differently
You know how your goldfish will stand out from all the rest in the sea? It will swim in the opposite direction.
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
The online business world is still new. Anyone who tells you they’ve “mastered how to do business online” hasn’t been a master for very long!
Because it’s all so new and often confusing, all the gurus can do is recommend “best practices” for social media; email marketing; sales pages; webinars, and more.
Guess what that results in?
A lot of copycat social media, email marketing, sales pages, webinars, and more.
Rather than blindly following the “industry best practices” for your chosen marketing vehicle, why not think first about the everyday life of your ideal customer?
(You did answer the three questions about your ideal customer in the section above, didn’t you?)
Think about what will serve them best — don’t buy the latest and greatest technique wholesale.
About five years ago, I noticed the “industry best practices” for webinars were something like this:
- Announce a webinar event whenever it’s convenient to you
- Get people on the webinar and spend 20 minutes introducing yourself and telling them why you’re amazing
- Spend 20 minutes delivering your “super secret method”
- Spend at least 20 minutes selling your “exclusive offer”
Five years ago, I decided to re-think this experience. Why did webinars have to be all about sell-sell-sell?
Higher standard marketing homework #2
Years ago, I created a series of free educational offerings called Brown Bag Workshops.
They were webinars with a few twists:
- Brown Bags happened on the same day and at the same time each month: The first Thursday at 1 pm Eastern.
- The audience could use them to eat lunch or take a break: They were a chance to kick back and learn something new in a fun atmosphere.
- They were about 30 minutes long and they aimed to teach and engage — not to sell.
3. Aim for simple, straightforward, and clear
Simplicity is easier to create, implement, and sell.
One of the results of all the online marketing tactics floating around out there — content marketing; email marketing; social media marketing; online courses; live and evergreen webinars; videos and podcasts … and on and on — is that as online business owners, we think:
“If I’m not marketing at least ten different ways, I’m slacking off.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unless you have a team of people to back you up, you should focus on simplifying your message and then repeating it consistently using just a few tactics that you fully master.
For me, those have been content marketing, email marketing, and webinars.
Only now, seven years in, am I going to double down on doing even more on social media and incorporating video regularly. I have two team members who will support me in these efforts because — guess what?
When the time comes to expand your reach, you’ll need help.
If you’re just starting out, aim for simplicity. Be clear. Be consistent. And become a constant presence on a few platforms that you master before you add more.
Higher standard marketing homework #3
Answer these questions to clarify and simplify your marketing:
- What platforms take advantage of your natural skills? If you enjoy photography, develop a presence on Instagram. If you’re a passable writer, make content marketing part of your foundation. (Need help with that? Read my book.)
- What are the handful of marketing messages you want to be sure your prospects understand about your business? This may sound like, “[BUSINESS NAME] helps [WHO YOU HELP] to [THE TRANSFORMATION YOU DELIVER, STARTING WITH A VERB]”
Market to a higher standard: It’s within reach
You’re here on a site helps small businesses look big, so I know you aspire to more. Follow these steps to get there:
- Reside inside the heads and hearts of the people you aim to serve: get to know your ideal customer well enough that you can truly serve their needs.
- Dare to market and sell differently: have the courage to upend conventions if you know it will serve your customers.
- Aim for simple, straightforward, and clear: remember, simple messages are easier to understand and implement — and are more convincing.
Put your higher standard of marketing in action with useful, engaging, educational content today.