If you can’t and don’t get potential customers to know that you exist, they don’t care and you die. They don’t care because there is very little special about you. Should you not be there, they will get what you were selling from the next business selling it. This is the mindset of a successful marketer.
A Bit of History
In 1870, Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”. In 1870, he was right. There were very few products so simply having one led to success so long as the product held together.
Henry Ford applied this thinking and he made a great success of it in the early 1900’s. His offer was “you can have any colour Model T Ford as long as its black”. Then in the early 1970’s Philip Kotler, referred to as the ‘Father of Marketing’ argued that products aren’t good enough to draw your customers.
Kotler proposed that you must divide your customers into groups of customers with similar needs and wants. You must communicate with your segments rather than rely on “spray and pray” marketing. This is where you communicate with anyone and everyone in the hope that you reach someone who becomes your customer. The business world loved it. It held the promise of bringing customers to your door and it beat mousetraps.
Today’s environment is different but not
In 2020, very few business owners that I meet and work with have progressed beyond a hybrid of these two positions. They have identified their segments and impose their products features on them!
The ability to see and hear messages from a business has become increasingly difficult. There is more advertising, products, options, voices and choices today than ever before. There is greater access to information, more economic pressure and a massive increase in competition. The environment has changed. But the way most business owners understand and see marketing has not. This new environment means that a product-centric and market-segment approach is no longer working. Both these strategies rely on broad messaging as opposed to customised, contextual messaging.
Messaging communicates your offer and value to a prospective client. It includes :
Think of an email campaign as an example:
Campaign – this is the programme of communication. It includes the various formats and messaging as well as distribution. It has a beginning, an end and should be measured in terms of impact.
Format – this is the mechanism used to communicate. In our example it is an email, it could be a radio advert, an advertorial, an event etc. There are many formats right down to fridge magnets and coasters.
Messaging – In our e-mail this is the copy. The words that communicate what the offer and value of the product is. It should also include a call-to-action.
Design – this is wrapping of the format and messaging. An email might include a picture with the copy. The copy includes colour, fonts, spacing and more. Design should illicit the ideal emotive response to the message. Red means act now, blue means trust, orange means creative and energetic etc.
Distribution – this includes the method of communication. Distribution is managed off a platform. It includes radio, TV, billboards, websites, social media. It’s also that guy, standing on the side of the road pleading with you to open your window and take the flyer.
How do you get your messaging consumed above the noise?
The evidence is there – people don’t buy products. They buy solutions to their problems. Problems are experienced on a personal level, that is, an emotive “lived experience”. Messaging must resonate with your “lived experience” or you blank it out or look past it.
Beyond Segmentation towards Personas
A persona is a personality, character or identity. It changes over time and its change is led by many aspects from the environment to the body and the mind. Excellent writers have the ability to present the physical, emotional and lived experience of their characters. In reading about these characters, you immediately understand them, and think of people in your friends and family circles. You further knew exactly, based on their description, how to delight and annoy them. Personas are just that.
Understanding your customers as personas enables your messaging to emotively connect with them. It makes a person feel heard and understood and that builds familiarity and trust. What you have is a potential customer who feels safe with you. They warm towards your communication and hold the promise of high conversion.
Effective marketing builds messaging that is based on a deep and sound understanding of what problems you solve and for who. It is this understanding that lets you build consistent marketing campaigns that can be measured and improved.