Most business owners are good at what they do. Whether you’re a plumber, a photographer, a Chiropractor – whatever your business is – you’re good at it and you probably have a passion for it. But being good at what you do is very different to being good at marketing what you do and all successful business have to become highly adept at marketing what they do.
It used to be easy:
Once-upon-a-time marketing was easy.
- Ads in the yellow pages
- Ads in the local paper
- Cards in the newsagents window
- flyer drops
- word of mouth
That’s about it. Simple.
Now it’s complicated:
- Twitter ads
- Facebook ads
- Google Adwords or Pay-Per-Click
- e-mail marketing
Oh, and you can still do all the old stuff too. Where do you start and where does it all end? How do you make your marketing stick.
All too often businesses start with the latest fad they’ve heard about and it ends with tears and a bottom line drained of profit by wasted marketing spend. They throw stuff out there and hope the marketing will stick. That some of it will resonate with someone and provide that elusive return.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
But to make it different, you have to think differently and behave differently. Instead of jumping into the latest shinny marketing gizmo, or just sticking with the one you feel comfortable with, you need to have a strategy and a plan.
3 key questions
But before you can have a strategy and a plan, you need to do some homework. You need a few critical pieces of information to base your strategy and plan on. These are:
- Who is your target market
- What pain are you going to make go away or what pleasure are you going to make a reality for them
- Where do they hang out
Your target market
You might be thinking “but I can help everyone” or “anyone could benefit from my product or service”. But you can’t market to everyone or anyone. You have to identify a target market so that you can create messages that will resonate with them. If you were a weight loss coach, your messages to target the over 50’s suffering from middle-age spread would be very different to those looking to appeal to new mum’s looking to regain their pre-pregnancy figures.
You have to think market first, and then the message to target them becomes easier to craft. You may have several different target markets or segments. Each needs the same level of attention to detail if you are to be successful in marketing to them. Trying to appeal to everyone ends up with you appealing to no one.
Pain or pleasure
Effective marketing address the pains your target market are feeling or the pleasures they want to have. For example many people feel the pain of tradesmen that turn up late (or not at all) and leave a mess behind when they leave. How about if your marketing offered to pay the client if you are late and promises to leave your house cleaner than when they arrived or your money back? Or how about “if you don’t love your pizza, we’ll make you another one free”.
You need to be clear on the pains you are going to take away r the pleasures you are going to deliver.
Where are they?
It’s no use putting out the best marketing messages in the world if your target audience are not there to receive them. If they’re not on Twitter, don’t send them tweets – they won’t see them. You need to understand what media your target market use so that you can go there and show them your messages.
Now that you have clear answers to the 3 key questions you can create your strategy. You need to get your target audience to a place where you can show them how you can relieve their pain or satisfy their desires and provide them with the necessary social proof to back it up. This probably means getting them to move from where they hang out to where you can show them the how and the proof. The latter is probably your website or it could be your shop, office or consulting rooms. The trick is working out where each component fits in the bigger picture.
Let’s look at this post as an example of my strategy in action. My target audience is business owners and marketing and sales people. Many of them are on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. So I will put out regular tweets about this post. I will comment about it on Facebook and LinkedIn. It will also go out in an e-mail to my existing list of subscribers. I’m going to where my audience hangs out and asking them to come to my website to read my article. I encourage you to check me out on LinkedIn – Allen Ruddock on LinkedIn – to see what I do for my clients and to see who has recommended me. That’s the social proof.
Your strategy needs to address how you are going to get your messages in from of your target audience and how you are going to provide them with everything they need to know, like and trust you so that they will then be comfortable buying from you.
Your plan turns your strategy into actions. Those actions are about creating content appropriate to your target audience for the stage of the process they are at and then getting that content in front of your audience through the appropriate media. Tweets with an engaging and relevant image for twitter users. Facebook or LinkedIn posts with an image and link. An e-mail with an intriguing or provocative headline and good opening copy to capture the reader’s interest. It could be one of many formats.
Your plan should map out your engagements with your audience and the calls to action you want them to take. It might be a piece of content to address a specific query or challenge, such as ‘how easy is this product to use’ – perhaps addressed with some examples, screen shots or – even better – a short ‘how to’ video. Or it might be a simple engagement piece to demonstrate the value to bring to your audience be giving them some useful hints, tips or information.
Where does LinkedIn fit in your strategy
LinkedIn should form part of the core strategy of every business. To be successful in business you need to demonstrate your credibility – you expert authority – in what you do. Your LinkedIn profile enables you to do that, showcasing what you do through documents, sideshows and videos on your profile. Through posts on the Pulse publishing platform, and from contributions to groups and other peoples posts. It also enables you to gather the all-important social proof critical to developing trust and rapport with your target market through recommendations that have to be input by the recommender themselves. They can’t be faked.
So you need a powerful personal profile to build that credibility.
And there’s more….
if you are selling to other businesses LinkedIn should be your target acquisition tool of choice.
With 400+ million profiles worldwide and over 50% of all professionals having a profile, your target business client is almost certain to be on LinkedIn. With advanced search tools it’s easy to find them by industry, job title, company, interest or location. With a powerful profile of your own, connection and engagement can be easily achieved. It’s what I call the LinkedIn Business Advantage. It’s targeted marketing that sticks!
Find out more about the LinkedIn Business Advantage by clicking on the link or the image.