I’ve been reading more about business and marketing in the attempt to become better at my current job as strategy consultant. I’ve found my notions around successful businesses (especially those of creators) wildly off-base and romantic.
I used to think it just took a stroke of superhuman genius to create successful marketing strategies and products, but apparently, there’s a whole lot that goes on in terms of planning, research, and execution, with all aspects of a customer and their desires analysed under a microscope. It initially did make me a bit uncomfortable.
I think it turned that genuine “I’m just here to help you out” kind of vibe I get from some brands/people into a more crafted dig for my pockets. I’m still wondering how I feel about the whole thing and shedding my naivety, but in the meantime, here are my main learning points:
- Niching down is incredible in business. You tune off to a wedding, funeral, birthday, event, family, baby photographer but if you’re looking for them, you’ll immediately go for the baby photographer. Niches are an inch wide and a mile deep.
- A specialist is sought after rather than shopped on price. If you become a specialist, no-one will bargain with you. You won’t bargain for the cheapest heart surgeon. (a heart surgeon is hardly specialised, but I’ll leave the medicine out of it)
- The goal of marketing is NOT to sell on the spot (about 3% of people are willing to buy on the spot, but about 40% of people can be convinced to later buy). If your marketing campaign is targeted towards selling then and there, you’re missing out on a potential 40% of the market. You shouldn’t have vague “get in touch if interested”, but multiple ways to contact you to make it easy.
- If you aren’t a huge brand (Coca Cola, Apple) your goal in marketing shouldn’t be to “get your name out there” you won’t have the money to do this anyway. You shouldn’t focus on your branding and image, no-one will care - it just needs to be super clear (not confusing) and explain how it will help the customer. You shouldn’t be “inwards facing”=talking about what you do and who you are, you should be “outwards facing”=talking about how exactly the customers problem will be solved.
- Customers do not care about your fancy services (a TV which has 4HDMI cables), they’re more worried about how much of a hassle it will be to get it home and installed. If you focused your sales pitch on saying it is free transport and installation, you’re more likely to make the sale. Knowing your customers pain points is essential in successful marketing.
- You should aim to provide value before customers buy: a free document that solves one of their problems.
- The most successful salesman in the world sold cars. He would send out handwritten letters to all of his clients for all major holidays saying “I like you.” In a few years, 80% of his sales came from repeat customers - he knew they would need to upgrade their cars soon, and he’d been in touch with them for years.
- You do not want to sell your product at a low price. If you compete on price, you will always lose. And if your customers chose you because of price, you will always lose too. You need to justify your high ticket price, but always pick a high ticket price, and raise them when you can. This will keep you happy, and your customers happy. You can grandfather your current customers (keeping them at the initial price).
- You should be comfortable cutting customers off and firing them. It is usually the loudest dissatisfied customers that drain resources. If a customer cannot be pleased, it is much better to just end the relationship. You will also be sending them off to a competitor which will drain their resources and help you even more (pure evil but I get it).
- You do need to keep track of how much you’re spending on marketing and being very intentional about it. Would you keep an employee who’s results you couldn’t see or measure? There’s no point in running marketing campaigns which are not measurable and poorly thought through, you might as well buy lottery tickets for the income it will generate.
What is my target market really buying? For example, people don’t really buy insurance; they buy peace of mind.
Henry Ford puts it well: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Targeting existing pain rather than promising future pleasure will result in much higher conversion, much higher customer satisfaction and lower price resistance. Look for pain points in your industry and become the source of relief.
John Wanamaker, one of the marketing greats, famously said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
I always say have an unlimited budget for marketing that works.
PS. There’s a lot more specifics in the book, but I’ve been told off for making these summaries too long, here’s an image from the book below that showcases the system: