Marketing is a communications strategy used by a company or individual to reach and connect with their target market through various methods. It includes your message (what are you trying to communicate), the medium (how are you trying to communicate), and the target (to whom you’re trying to communicate).
There are many ways to build effective marketing. One is to build relationships as an expert with journalists and media to get press coverage or guest spots. Another is by building a brand that truly reflects the vision of your company in a relatable way. Storytelling is another way to create a relatable bond with your target market. If you are a service industry that solves a problem for the consumer, try to tell the story of how you solve the problem rather than a list of issues you address.
A number that gets thrown around a lot is 4,000. As in people are being marketed to in multiple ways about 4,000 times a day. That seems a bit high to me, but that’s the number I keep reading. So how do you stand out? How do you interrupt someone long enough so that they pay attention to you rather than another marketing piece amongst the thousands we see daily? I like to try to create something slightly uncomfortable while planting something familiar inside it to interrupt people. If you lead with a relatable struggle, small or large, you may be able to get someone’s attention. Then by planting something relatable in the story you are telling, you will draw them in to see the outcome. Create curiosity.
But first, you need to establish what it is you are trying to communicate. If it’s a product, what problem does the product solve? If it’s a service, what problem does the service solve? You must be a problem solver to generate interest. Understanding the plight of your target market is essential. You must be able to see your product through their eyes. How do I express the validity of my product or service in a way that will interrupt the consumer? And that requires a bit of digging.
As business owners, we start with a bang and then level off a bit. It takes a lot of energy and risk tolerance to start something as big as a business. There is a lot of energy that gets forgotten as time passes. The stresses, trials and tribulations dampen that energy a bit over the years. But anything good that you offer your consumers comes from that first ball of energy. So it’s important to revisit it from time to time to draw some of it out and distribute it in your marketing plan to the public. These “discovery” sessions can rekindle the fire that once burned bright enough to launch a business. If you aren’t going that far back to rediscover that fire, you are not maximizing the value of the content for your marketing strategy. Your branding strategy must come from this as well. A logo is not just a piece of nice-looking artwork; It’s a signal of a promise that must be followed through on. The most intimate moment you have with a client is the moment when they pay for your service. That is when they ask if they are getting value for what they are spending. Keep that in mind when making promises and following through on the sale of a product or service. A thank you goes a long way.
Next, we need to consider how to communicate. The knee jerk strategy tends to be social media nowadays because it’s free and only requires robust content development, but this isn’t always the best strategy. Social media dictates your content development, and that can be limiting. People don’t tend to want to be marketed to on social media so you must create content that will appeal to the public while still offering the value that doesn’t interrupt their social media feed. LinkedIn is an exception to this but requires a lot of hands-on commitment that is most effectively done by the client rather than the marketing team, although it is possible. But it is best to consider where your target market likes to or is required to be. Consider TV programs, business magazines, events, newspapers, direct mail pieces, websites and so on. The list is very long but also may be very specific. Testimonials from satisfied customers is always a great way to get people to learn about what you do. Consumers trust other consumers before they believe the claims of business whether they know them or not, and the testimonials can be used in multiple ways using many different mediums.
And lastly, who is your target? This may seem simple to identify, but you need to go deeper and consider not only the demographics but the needs of the consumer. Does the consumer even realize they need the solution you are offering? Many times, people don’t even realize that they are missing something until it’s shown to them in some way. “I’ve always banked at my bank, why change? I’m sure all banks are the same.” These are the people you try to convert. This will require honest communication of services and results. It requires creating an interruption that will cause them to consider the change before they do their research.
People do research. So the more content you can make available to them the better. The more stories you can get in media, the more blogs you can add to your website, the more relevant posts you can put on social media, the better. Content is, and always will be, king.
Alex Raffi is a partner and creative director at Imagine.