The 3 Essentials Of Marketing

Someone said to me last week, ‘Sum up the basics of marketing in less than thirty words.’ Well, I always say if you can’t explain something simply, you probably don’t understand it, so I had a go:

Find out who you are selling to, work out how to target them cost effectively, then tell them a story about the benefits of your product.

Easier said than done of course but the principles are important. A lot of time and money is wasted if you cast your net too wide when trying to promote your product or service. So the first step is always working out who is buying or likely to buy. For an established product, your best customer is your existing customer followed by others similar to them. This cannot be a guess.

Having established that, how do you reach them? It will nearly always be a marketing mix that varies on each occasion. Direct marketing is usually the best for targeting and value. If you have someone’s email address, mobile numbers for texts or postal address, you can communicate directly with them. You can also monitor their responses and their purchase history. For a small business, the MailChimp service is excellent for handling an email list and telling you who is opening your emails and who is ignoring them.

Costly as it is, print is still effective at attracting attention and persuading. Use it sparingly but mail it to your keen followers and make it available where your target market hangs out.

Social media tends to take up a lot of time for the return on investment but bear in mind that, if you have genuine followers on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, they should be among the best people to spread the word.

It is a problem if you don’t have data on your customers or you want to reach new ones. Media advertising is an expensive and scattergun way to reach them, even AdWords. One of my first steps towards achieving record sales at The Mayflower was to switch the emphasis from newspaper advertising to direct marketing.

And so to the message. Find out- don’t assume or guess- why people need your product. Remember, as Clay Christensen put it, people don’t want to buy a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole. It takes years to learn to right selling copy but the starting point is to tell the customer a story of how they will benefit from your product. Like all stories, it will grab their attention and make the recipient read on or look in more detail.

An effective marketing campaign is a mighty edifice but it will be built on these foundations.
This blog was written by Paul Lewis, owner of the Winchester based marketing consultancy Seven Experience. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn

It’s All About You

You are important and you know it. But does the person trying to sell you something know it?

One of the basic lessons of marketing is ‘sell benefits not features’. In other words, tell the customer what’s in it for them. Yet how often do you receive an email, letter, tweet, flier or even a personal call that fails to tell you why you should buy? You can probably find any number of examples that don’t even use the word ‘you’.

Here’s an example from the world of theatre: ‘This show is unmissable.’ OK but why shouldn’t you miss it? What particular rvalue will be added to your memories were you to have this experience? What empty hole will there be in your life if you choose not to see the show?

Maybe it’s a moving play. So you’ll very likely be crying at the end. Better bring tissues.

Maybe it’s a funny play. So you’ll be laughing. Better bring an oxygen supply in case you can’t get your breath.

Maybe it’s a musical full of hits. So you’ll be tapping your feet, clapping along, dancing in the aisles, reliving your youth. Better bring a defibrillator.

The fact that it’s an award winning, long running, critically acclaimed work of genius is very reassuring but so are any number of shows you wouldn’t dream of seeing.

A survey found that the word most commonly used in tweets that were retweeted was ‘you’. Copy- even if it’s only 147 digits- should tell you a story in which you are the star. That story should describe vividly what will happen to you when you go to see that particular show. It should fire your imagination.

If at the end of the story, you say that’s not for me, at least you’ve made an informed decision. Think of all the potential customers like you who never even started on the journey because they were given a list of features and couldn’t be bothered trying to work out the answer to the most important marketing question: what’s in it for you?

This blog was written by Paul Seven Lewis, owner of the marketing consultancy The Lewis Experience and former Head of Marketing and Operations at The Mayflower Theatre. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn.

Don’t Give Up On Print

The Watershed arthouse cinema in Bristol has decided to stop producing promotional print and concentrate on emails and other digital media. This is a big mistake. A piece of print in the post gets 30 times the response achieved by an email. It’s true that email offers a much better return on investment on a most mailings because of the low cost but if you want to get the best out of people who are loyal to your organisation, you must give them some print.
I realise these are challenging times for marketers- mass media like newspaper and radio advertising no longer achieve a good return and bulk distribution of print is not much better. Twitter and Facebook are a useful part of the mix but I’d be interested to know if anyone has achieved significant sales from them. they seem to me to be much more suited for building the brand.

I think the best plan is to identify your best customers through purchase data and target them and people like them with print, emails and social media.

For help in making your print work, see my 10 Tips for writing effective letters