Your marketing is the engine that drives your business.
With the proper fuel and horsepower, your marketing engine can create some impressive results.
A few summers ago I visited the Coca-Cola world headquarters in Atlanta. My wife and I toured the museum and it became obvious why Coca-Cola is the world’s most recognized brand: A great product (that’s mildly addictive) and really, really good marketing. I was fascinated by looking at the early marketing strategies used in the first drug stores that sold Coke in Atlanta. From free sampling to special offers, to window signs that are sure to make people thirsty, the early Coke advertising was brilliant. And it worked. It made a lot of drug store owners a lot of money. Almost as impressive was the mini-factory that we toured. It was spitting out glass bottles of Coke in rapid-fire fashion. The best part? It was completely automated. Sure some people were monitoring things, but for the most part, the machinery was doing all the work.
The marketing nerd in me was excited. Not because of the manufacturing although it was impressive. That mini factory got me thinking about good marketing. Good marketing should be like that factory – largely automated and effective at producing measurable results. Your goal should be to construct a marketing machine or engine that produces consistently bankable results. Regardless of your business size or industry, your marketing machine should have four components. I call them the 4 M’s of marketing.
Let’s look at the four briefly, then evaluate how you are doing in each area.
- The right market. What makes this part of your marketing machine function? A focus on attracting the right prospects and developing a deep understanding of what your market wants.
- The right message. What makes this part of your marketing machine hum? The ability to clearly and powerfully communicate your story so that prospects remember it, take action and even retell the story.
- The right mechanism of delivery. What do you need for this to work properly? Select the most effective and efficient ways to get your message out to your market.
- The right maximization strategy. What makes this part of the machine tick? This is all about getting repeat sales and referrals. It’s also about raising your average order value and selling more stuff. This is about maximizing customer value.
Let’s take a look at each of the 4 areas and see where you might have problems and where you have opportunities for growth. Think of this as a marketing self-assessment. As you go through and answer these questions you’ll get a clear picture of the overall health and vitality of your marketing machine.
Answer these questions honestly.
If you do you should gain clarity on where you need to take your marketing efforts from here.
1. The right market.
I’ve talked to many businesses over the years that are struggling because they have the wrong “market” strategy. Either they are going after the wrong people, or they’re going after the right people in the wrong way. Here are some questions to ask to ensure you are approaching the right people. Just as importantly, here are some questions to ask to make sure you deeply understand your market. If your customers get the impression that you don’t really know them, they will likely go to someone who does understand them. Also, it’s not enough just to understand your market. You need to build your business to deliver what your customers want and you need to design your message to resonate with your market. The challenge is that your customers’ wants and needs are constantly evolving. To stay relevant and valuable you have to innovate. To innovate successfully you have to know your market.
- What type of person/company do you want to work with?
- What type of person/company will benefit the most from your product or service?
- What type of person/company is most likely to buy your product?
- What does your ideal customer most want when it comes to what you sell?
- What are you doing to make sure you give your customers what they want better than your competitors? If you don’t do this, you will be left behind.
- Are you effectively building a tribe of consumers who want more of what you have to offer?
2. The right message.
This is where I often see small businesses fall short. It’s sometimes hard to craft your own message because it’s hard to see your business as a prospect would. You have what Chip and Dan Heath (authors of Made to Stick – one of my favorite books) call the curse of knowledge. You know so much about your business that it’s hard to communicate with those who don’t know anything. Here are some questions to ask to see if your message is strong now. These questions will also shed some light on how you might need to improve your message.
- If you were to approach your customers and ask them what makes your business unique, could they tell you?
- If you were to show your ads, emails, or videos to a prospect would they immediately see what makes yours unique and valuable? Would they be able to highlight the key points after watching it just one time?
- Is your value proposition communicated in such a way that it makes people clamor for your product or service immediately after seeing your ad or reading your email?
- Can you construct a short statement that captures the essence of your product, tells a story, and compels people to buy?
- Does your message find the intersection of what you do best and what your prospects want the most? This may be the most important question you ask related to your message. Find what your customers want most and see how that matches up to what you do best. Then talk about it. A great example of this is Wal-Mart’s “Save Money. Live Better.” tag line. That’s a perfect tie into what they do best (save people money) and what their customers want most (the ability to buy stuff that makes life better, easier, etc.). You might not be able to chop your message down to just four words, but you should be able to capture the essence of your message like Wal-Mart does.
3. The right delivery mechanism.
This is where you can really get some traction. It’s also where you can completely spin your wheels and waste money if you aren’t careful. This is where you develop your approach to delivering your message to your market. This takes an understanding of where your market congregates, what they are searching for, and what media they consume.
- What keywords are buyers searching for when it comes to your products? This will guide your SEO or paid search approach.
- What websites do your buyers frequent?
- Who else does business with your prospects that you can partner with?
- Would your message be well received if shared in video form? Email? Display Ad? Usually, you want a combination of delivery mechanisms.
This is where your business can become really exciting and profitable. Maximization is all about leverage. It’s about leveraging relationships as well as leveraging the buying/selling environment for maximum results.
Ideally, what should every prospect purchase from you? Think in terms of the optimal quantity and quality of product/service.
Ideally how often should someone purchase from you? Don’t just think in terms of what’s best for you, but what’s best for the prospect.
Realistically, if a prospect is happy with your product/service who will they tell and how? Would they send an email? Post on social media? How can you make this easier for customers to share your story?
How can you motivate customers to tell your story to others? Would creating events or creating a referral program help?
What other products or services can you sell your customers?
Going back to the Coca-Cola example, how big could they have grown if they never developed a factory? What if all they had was some guy with a funnel and a tube slowing filling Coke bottles. Not exactly the formula for world domination. You might not want to dominate the world, but my guess is you do want to be wildly successful and profitable, even if it’s just on a local level. Your growth and success in the coming year will largely be determined by how you build and run your marketing machine.