I have a very effective marketing idea to share with you today. You’re going to love this!
I’m going to show you how to create marketing, which people will value and that’s powerful enough to inspire them to hire you or buy from you. It’s based on the work I do with my clients and includes a brief case study, which you can learn from.
So, let’s get started.
Receiving or paying attention?
It starts with understanding that there’s a huge difference between someone receiving your message and someone paying attention to it.
For example, TV viewers are sent targeted marketing messages (commercials) during TV shows. What do most of us do? We fast forward through them or if watching the show in real-time, we go and make a coffee. Just because they send their messages, doesn’t mean we are paying attention.
For your marketing to work, you need to get a great message in front of the right people. In order to get this correct, here’s the key question we need to ask ourselves:
If I stopped my email marketing campaign or I stopped publishing my blog posts, newsletter etc, would people really MISS them?
As a quick look at the marketing you receive every day confirms, for most people the honest answer to that question is NO! We get bombarded with dull, uninspiring sales messages all day and see them as an intrusion, rather than something of value.
Of course, for that tiny minority of small businesses who DO produce marketing, which people genuinely value and would miss if it were to stop, the sky is the limit.
I’m going to share the process required to make this work for your business later in this post.
First, we need to understand why there’s so much dull and ineffective marketing out there.
Dull is cheap. Dull is fast. Dull is simple!
It’s cheap, fast and simple to create dull marketing and get it in front of a lot of people. As a result, there’s no barrier to entry today.
Things were very different a decade ago. Back then, if a small business owner wanted to send a mail shot to 50,000 people, she’d have to spend some serious money.
She’d have to cover the cost of the mailing list.
Then she would need to pay for all that paper and the printing.
Next she would need to pay a company to get the letters folded and inserted into the 50,000 envelopes.
Then there’s the huge postage costs for those 50,000 pieces of mail.
All in all, it would cost many thousands. She would need to think long and hard about the value of what she put into those envelopes. Get it wrong and she would pay a hefty price!
Today, everything has changed
That same business owner today can hit 50,000 people using cheap email software and her laptop. It costs just a little of her time. If it fails, maybe tomorrow’s one will work. It’s never been cheaper or easier to push dull, uninspired, poorly thought out, uncreative marketing out the door.
So, that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing. This is why there’s so much junk in your email inbox and on your social networking accounts.
Here’s what you need to do to get it right!
There is an alternative approach I want to share with you, so people welcome your marketing, share it and hire you or buy from you. It requires that you take the exact opposite approach, to 99% of the marketing you see out there.
It’s about shifting the focus of your marketing, so that it’s primarily of benefit to the people who receive it and secondarily of benefit to you. It’s about producing content (audio, video, blog posts, newsletters, mail shots, flyers, social networking updates etc), which provide independent value to those who receive it. This means they get genuinely valuable or useful information from it, independent of them needing to spend a penny with you.
An example of how this works, based on one of my clients
Imagine you are a dog owner and after a trip to the vet, you subscribe to their dog owner’s newsletter. It gives you tips and ideas, to help you keep your dog healthy, fit and happy. At the bottom of each email are their contact details, so you can call them when you need a vet. You find this free information so useful, that you send it to 10 of your dog-owning friends.
They subscribe and then do the same… then these new subscribers share it too, and on and on it goes. The amazingly valuable, highly-targeted readership grows and grows.
Soon, that vet (a former client of mine) was talking to thousands of local dog owners and positioned themselves in their marketplace, as THE place to take your dog for all its veterinary needs. Their newsletter was eagerly anticipated by it’s readers… yes, people wanted to hear from them and valued what they had to share.
Compare that vet’s approach to the typical marketing messages we see.
That vet doesn’t need to run expensive radio ads.
They have no need to buy mailing lists.
They don’t need to waste valuable hours at networking events.
They certainly don’t need to pester people on social networks or ask strangers for recommendations on Linkedin.
They don’t need to invest in anything, other than the creativity required to produce a genuinely valuable newsletter, with useful content.
That example shows how a business can grow a massively valuable marketing asset, by sharing real value — rather than pushing unwanted messages. If you invest in creating this kind of value driven marketing, it will improve your business beyond recognition.
In short: Stop pushing predictable marketing at people. Focus on attracting clients instead! This means sharing value, something your marketplace will embrace and share. Soon, you too can have a valuable, growing community of people, who position you in their mind as the obvious choice, when they need the type of service your business provides.
I’d like to talk with you today about something important, which I haven’t covered previously. It’s about the price you pay, when you’re waiting on other people to make a decision.
All the while you’re waiting on a prospective client or customer to give you their decision, they occupy a significant chunk of your mind. Their indecision can also be a significant cause of stress, as the will-they-or-won’t-they dance is carried out in your mind.
How I solved this problem and how you can too
It’s hard to think with clarity about future plans, when the indecision of others is weighing heavily on your mind. So, it’s important to have a strategy in place to ensure you protect yourself and your business. The strategy I use is based on what I call Windows of Opportunity.
Allow me to explain.
How my Windows of Opportunity work
Whenever a prospective client makes an inquiry about working with me, I open a Window of Opportunity in my diary.
It looks something like this:
The Window of Opportunity has a start date and an end date. The end date is based on how much time I am prepared to invest, to take them from a prospective client… to a client.
During their Window of Opportunity, I’m committed to providing them with everything they need in order to make the right decision for their business.
However, once their Window of Opportunity is closed, if they are still unable to make a decision, I invest my time and focus elsewhere.
I also consider their inquiry closed, meaning I no longer factor their decision into my plans moving forward. This helps me retain total clarity regarding my business. It’s hard to make future plans or determine future capacity, when you’re factoring in “potential” income from “potential” clients — many of whom are time wasters.
If they reply after this date asking to work with me, and I am still willing to work with them, I have a single, additional conversation with them. They could have had a perfectly good reason for delaying. In such cases I am always happy to provide an additional conversation.
If indecisive prospective clients or time-wasters are taking their toll on you and your business, consider taking control of the situation by working within your own Windows of Opportunity. This will give you the freedom to plan ahead with clarity, rather than the mind-fog that hampers so many hard working small business owners.
Not only will you enjoy clearer thinking and less stress, you will save a huge amount of time too.
I’ve often written about the damage that can be caused, when you push your marketing at people. No matter how great your product or service is, how great your offer is or how good your intentions are, people hate having things forced upon them.
Apple learned this recently, with a poorly judged marketing decision to help promote their new iPhones.
The gift that backfired
As part of the launch for Apple’s new iPhone’s, Apple pushed a copy of the new U2 album Songs of Innocence, into 500,000,000 iTunes accounts. Half a billion people found they had purchased the album, without their permission. Although the album was free, the fact it was forced on people resulted in a huge, negative backlash, which has lasted for a week so far.
The resulting bad publicity saw websites around the world, including The BBC, offer advice on how to remove the album from your iTunes account. Then Apple themselves were forced to respond, by providing a page on their website, see above, which showed users how to delete the album they never asked for.
This response by Apple was then reported on, prolonging the bad publicity.
People dislike having what YOU want, forced on them.
Even though the album was free. Even though the album is pretty good. Even though U2 have a large, international fan base and have won more Grammy Awards than any other band in music history, no one asked for the album. The album was pushed at them.
The lesson here is that when you push marketing at people, they push back. Instead, earn permission and act within the expectation of the relationship you have with your audience.
I receive hundreds of emails every week from small business owners with problems. In most cases, the primary reason their businesses struggle is their inability to make a decision. They want certainty before they commit — this, in a world without certainty!
Here’s what the most successful business owners and entrepreneurs do:
They do the research.
They get the facts.
They seek expert advice, if required.
They make a decision.
They take action.
At no point do they seek out certainty. If they did, they’d never do anything!
He or she, is the person who doesn’t ‘get’ what you’re saying. They can’t see the value. They can’t see your point. They frustrate you with questions that show zero understanding of your message.
Why that guy is different
Here’s what makes that guy different, from a prospective client or customer who needs clarification:
That guy is not in the market for whatever you are offering. Their questions come when there’s nothing wrong with the value you provide or the way you explain your value. The problem occurs because that guy is the wrong audience for what you have to say, but they haven’t figured that out.
They’re puzzled. They’re confused. And even though they will never be in the market for what you provide, they feel the need to ask you a series of confusing, frustrating, irrelevant questions.
I found that guy on a blog today
I was prompted to write this, after reading a series of comments left on a blog post. The blogger wrote a compelling, well reasoned piece on the value of building a community. The commenter totally missed the point. He asked the blogger to explain things, which were crystal clear.
The commenter was totally baffled, regardless of how hard the blogger tried to explain her point. He was a fish out of water — the wrong audience for the blogger’s message, yet he insisted on asking half a dozen frustrating, off-topic questions.
So, how can that guy ruin your marketing?
To avoid questions from that guy, there’s a temptation to dumb down your marketing, so as to address every possible misunderstanding. This fails you on 2 counts:
By dumbing down your marketing in anticipation of that guy, answering every potential question in advance, you end up with vague, over-long copy. This massively reduces the power of your marketing message. Brevity sells.
By dumbing down your marketing, you write for that guy and NOT your prospective clients or customers. This is the exact opposite of what marketing is about.
Whether you write the marketing content for your company, are a blogger or a newsletter provider, resist the temptation to write for that guy. Write for your target market. Always.
Clarity is the key
The most effective marketing, is marketing that inspires people to take action. It compels them to buy from you, visit you, hire you, call you or email you. This can only be achieved when you write with clarity, for your ideal profile of client or customer.
Trying to anticipate and answer every misunderstanding, in advance, which that guy comes up with, will detract from your message. It will destroy your marketing. It may also drive you a little crazy.