Posts Taged marketing

The One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge :: Week 47 :: Marketing :: Target Clients

Traditional marketing many times mimicked traditional product development. In traditional product development, a team of “experts” created a solution that – 1) they were enamored with, 2) represented a departure from current products in function, usability and/or experience, and 3) they hoped had commercial viability. Companies then turned those products over to traditional marketers who touted the features and benefits of the new offerings in hopes that someone would be willing to part with their hard-earned money and give it a try. In short, a solution in search of a problem. Once those few, brave early adopters surfaced, the marketers could look for others like them – target clients.

For decades, the bulk of “marketing science” was built around this approach. We learned about market segmentation, customer profiles, demographics, psychographics, geographics, behavioristics, and a host of other ways to segregate and talk to people who might be interested in our products or services. I’m not advocating that we abandon or unlearn all or even any of this, but instead broaden our field of knowledge. In recent years, new research in product development and marketing have the potential to make us much more effective in creating new offerings and communicating with those who are willing to buy them.

In Competing with Luck, Clayton Christensen helped us understand that the key to innovative product development is problem solving. Yogi Berra reminded us that, “you can observe a lot by watching.” Together, these two pieces of information give you everything you need to know to create a successful product. Carefully survey your slice of the world for a problem to solve. Then solve the problem better than anyone else.

Problems and the subsequent solutions can be simple – your smartphone slides across the dashboard or seat when you’re driving. You need a bracket that fits in your cupholder with a slot on the top to hold your phone. Or the problems can be more obscure – so obscure that you didn’t know you had the problem. Steve Jobs and the folks at Apple discovered that you needed a device bigger than your smartphone, but smaller than your laptop and viola, the iPad was born (along with a host of Android competitors). You didn’t know you needed a tablet, but, so far, about 1.5 billion of them have been sold worldwide. The potential upside of a product is in direct proportion to number of people that are afflicted by the problem that the product solves.

That brings us to this week’s One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge.

For this week’s exercise, I want you to create a detailed definition of the problem you’re effectively solving (what is the cause, how does it manifest itself i.e. what are the first, second and third order consequences, what is the personnel impact, what is the financial impact, what is the emotional or psychological impact, what is the social impact) and identify the people who have that problem – those people are your target clients.

As you start the exercise, the most disturbing discovery could be that you’ve created a solution for a non-existent problem (or a problem that afflicts a number of people so small, that it’s not commercially viable). If that’s the case, it’s time to survey the landscape and look for a problem to solve.

Assuming you have a superior solution to a real problem experienced by enough people, the assignment becomes, how do you effectively communicate with the people afflicted by that problem. I want to offer up some bullet points –

  • Discover where the people who have that problem look for information to solve it – Google search, friends on social media, LinkedIn, from others in their industry, cold sales calls, email solicitation, Yelp, Angie’s List, networking groups.
  • Begin interacting with them, using their preferred medium, with information that convinces them you understand the depth of the problem – discuss multiple manifestations of the problem and discuss the impacts of the problem.
  • Empathize with them. To prove the depth of your understanding, discuss the way the problem makes them feel – frustrated, insecure, uncertain about the future.
  • Start being useful. Offer initial solutions to the problem. If you give away valuable information you show your care for your target clients and your commitment to solving their problem. And you build credibility as a trusted resource.
  • Explain your value proposition – you have a good, workable solution that makes sense economically. You can’t charge them $10 to solve a $1 problem
  • Let existing clients build your credibility. Show that you’ve successfully solved the problem for others by sharing testimonials, case studies, and white papers.
  • Reach out to individual target clients with personalized emails (or for B2B, LinkedIn messages). Invite them into one-to-one conversations where you can probe for information on how the problem you solve impacts them.

As you explain your intimate understanding of the problem, your understanding of those afflicted by the problem, the pain they feel as a result, the epiphany that brought you to your solution to the problem, the thoroughness of the solution, the economic value of the solution, and the passion you bring to delivering the solution, you will gain recognition among those with the problem and will be seen as a valuable resource. You will find those who, as Simon Sinek would say, “share your why” or as Seth Godin would say, belong to your tribe.

In every interaction, probe for additional opportunities to listen and deepen your understanding of the problem and how it impacts potential target clients. And, in every interaction, if the target client is ready to buy, make your products or services available with an easy-to-follow call to action.

During this week’s thirty-minute exercise, gather your team together. After you’ve defined the problem in sufficient detail, make your initial pass through the list above. Make notes. Decide on your initial medium and messaging.

As you get started, resist the temptation to be perfect. Just start. Experiment with messaging and medium. Every time you get a response, increase your understanding of the problem and how it affects your target clients. Soon you’ll be effectively communicating with the people you’ve built your business to help.

The One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge :: Week 30 :: Marketing :: Messaging

If there’s one business discipline that gives me indigestion, it’s marketing. When I sit down to write about strategy or operations, the words flow freely, but when I have to write about marketing or, even worse, prepare marketing materials for my own business, I feel like my IQ drops 30 points.

I know the discipline is vital, so I’ve enlisted the help of people I trust. You’ll find my Kindle full of books from Donald Miller, Seth Godin, Bernadette Jiwa, Jay Baer and Jonah Berger. People who can help me decide what to say and how to say it. You’ll find my recommended reading list at the bottom of this post.

This week’s One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge is devoted to the most rudimentary of marketing disciplines – messaging – What do I say when I talk to customers? I’m afraid we devote too much attention to branding (logo design, colors) instead of the real words we say to the people we desperately want to talk to.

So, my goal for you in this week’s thirty-minute exercise is to use the criteria below to evaluate your communication with current and potential customers. Check your website, email campaigns, social media posts and written materials. These are the some of the most crucial truths I’ve gleaned from the smart people listed above.

Be brief – People are busy. They scan instead of reading. You’ve probably got 5-10 seconds on your website, 1-2 seconds for an email subject line and 3-5 seconds on a social media post to convince someone to go deeper. On your website, succinctly state the problem you solve, how you solve it and how the customer’s life will be better after consuming your solution. On email and social media, quickly say what the email or post is about and why they should continue reading.

Be clear – Don’t be cute, be crystal clear. A clever play on words might be tempting, but a solid message is always better. Don’t make the reader work hard to figure out what you’re trying to say.

Be valuable – Give value in every interaction. Let current and potential customers know what kind of information and work they can experience when they interact with you or your organization. Give them a taste of the value that will be returned for their investment of time and money.

Solve a problem – Current and potential customers don’t really care about you; they care about themselves. How will you resolve an existing issue or make their lives easier, better, or happier?

Be Mick, not Rocky – If you’re listing the top feel-good movies of all time and Rocky doesn’t make the list, you’re doing it wrong. The film about a struggling boxer, Rocky Balboa, who finally gets a shot at the title is Hollywood gold. But the pivotal character in the movie isn’t Rocky, it’s Mick, Rocky’s coach, mentor, friend, butt-kicker and confidant. In your marketing, be Mick the trainer, so your clients can be Rocky the hero.

Be empathetic – Let current and potential customers know that you “get it”. You understand their struggles, their frustrations, their obstacles, and their aspirations.

Be trusted – After you’ve shown that you understand their problems, demonstrate that you know how to solve them. Your proof might be in the form of years of experience, testimonials or case studies.

Be patient – Don’t be the weird person who discusses how many children he or she wants on the first date. Take your time, build trust, ask more questions, and learn everything you can about current and potential customers. Earn the right to heard.

Be transactional – In contrast to the previous question, don’t get stuck in the “friend zone”. Let potential customers know that the goal of your interactions is a paid engagement. Give potential customers a chance to begin the engagement with early and frequent calls to action. Be ready when they’re ready.

Be aspirational – Paint a picture of what their life will look like after using your product or service. Will they have more free time, more money, more security, more piece of mind, happier employees, better data enabling them to make better decisions?

If you’ll critique your communication using just the truths above, you’ll remove some clutter and make your message easier to read and easier to act on.

If this whets your appetite to go deeper on your marketing, you’ll benefit from these books.

Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand

Donald Miller, Marketing Made Simple

Seth Godin, This is Marketing

Bernadette Jiwa, Marketing: A Love Story

Jonah Berger, Contagious

Jay Baer, Youtility

 

The One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge :: Week 21 :: Marketing :: Social Media

Unless your current and potential clients constitute a very obscure part of the business-to-consumer or business-to-business landscape, you need an effective social media presence. Look at these statistics from Hootsuite (a social media management tool vendor) Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-statistics-for-social-media-managers/.

  • 50% of the global population (3.8 billion people) uses social media
  • 84% of people with access to the internet use social media
  • In 2019, people spent, on average, 2 hours and 24 minutes on social media every day
  • The average social media user has 8.3 different social accounts
  • 43% of internet users use social media for work purposes
  • 43% of internet users use social media to research potential purchases
  • 90% of internet users say they watch video online at least once a month
  • Social ad spending is forecast to increase 20% to $43 billion USD in 2020
  • Active users by platform
    • Instagram – 1 billion
    • Facebook – 2.5 billion
    • Twitter – 152 million
    • YouTube – 2 billion
    • Pinterest – 335 million
    • LinkedIn – 675 million
    • Snapchat – 218 million
    • TikTok – 800 million

 

This week’s One Year, Thirty Minute Challenge is to reexamine your social media strategy. Some of you might have ignored this marketing, messaging, and customer service channel, but you’re probably ignoring it at your own peril. Your customers, potential customers and competitors are most likely already there. Some of you might be active in social media but are not maximizing the results. Some of you might be knocking it out of the park.

There are two things that are unique and wonderful about social media. The first thing is that the best social media content is “useful”. The plumber is posting a list of the 10 worst foods for clogging garbage disposals. The chiropractor is sharing an infographic on how to lift heavy items without hurting your back. You’ll occasionally see a “hard sell” on social media, but they aren’t prevalent. The second thing is that, unlike almost every other marketing and advertising medium, social media is a conversation – business-to-customer, customer-to-business, and customer-to-customer (in front of the business). And those conversations are enabled and encouraged by the platform provider. Some platforms include tools that help the customer rate, review, and recommend the business.

One more thing before jumping into this week’s exercise. Some business owners and managers live in fear of what might be posted on social media. They dread the one-star review or the lengthy post from the irate customer. That content represents one of the best opportunities on social media. Customers don’t expect companies to be perfect, but they do expect companies to make things right when they make a mistake. When the poor review or the flaming complaint comes, jump right in. Apologize for the missed expectation, commit to making it right and give the complaining customer the first step in repairing the relationship. I recommend something like this, “Jim Smith, I am sorry that was your experience in our office. We want every customer to feel like they were treated well and received incredible value by purchasing our product. I’d like to talk with you about your experience. Would you call me at 888-555-5555 or email me at johnjones@email.com, so we can see what happened.” Again, in front of this complaining customer, all your other customers and any potential customers, you’ve voiced your commitment to making this right. If you’re able to resolve the complaining customer’s problem, invite them back to the post to share the resolution (without all the gory details).

Let’s jump into this week’s exercise –

Create a social media manifesto

  • Describe what you want to accomplish (position my company as an expert in the field, showcase the talented people on my team, generate sales leads, provide industry and company information so people can understand what we do, sell products or services online)
  • Define what winning looks like (reach, number of views, number of followers, number of engagements – clicks, likes, replies, pins, saves, number of leads, number of mentions, number of tags, number of reposts, shares or retweets)
  • Identify 6 – 8 themes that you want to consistently communicate (these might revolve around core values, products, people, community involvement)

 

Stake out your place on social media – I suggest creating accounts on the platforms you think you might want to use, just so you have the account name claimed. You can build them out as it makes sense (you have a plan that fits the platform, the ability to create meaningful content and the bandwidth to interact with customers on the platform).

Identify the best place or places to talk to your customers and potential customers on social media – If you don’t know where they hang out on social media, ask them. Each social media network has detailed demographics of its users. Review those and see if your customers are there.

Create a social media calendar – Using the themes from your manifesto, create a content calendar with dates, platforms, and messages. Content can be original (created by you or your team) or curated (useful to your audience, consistent with the messages of the manifesto but created by someone else). Schedule in “big” content and the run up to it. For example, if you’re going to be at a trade show, announce it in advance, ask followers to meet you there (scheduling appointments would be great), show pictures of preparation and broadcast live from the event when you get there. Track results from the content you share. Check levels of engagement and use it to refine future content. Periodically extend the invitation for more interaction outside of social media (if that makes sense in your business model). Download a sample social media calendar here.

Execute – Social media requires consistent care and feeding. Create good content, consistently share it, track the results, engage with your audience.

This is the most rudimentary of social media information. There’s much more to learn if you want to go deeper. Here are some good resources if you want to take your research further.

https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/

https://www.socialfresh.com/

https://socialmediaexplorer.com/

https://www.marismith.com/

https://sproutsocial.com/