When your marketing works, it can seem like magic, adding new customers and keeping things humming along. But when it isn’t working, business gets bogged down with anguished concern and frustration. If you’re not a natural sales person or marketing expert, it can seem both daunting and complex to try and figure out how to make the magic happen. Here are nine tips to help you get it right.
1. Sell your benefits
It’s not just what makes you different that counts, but what that difference means to the customer. You might have widgets that last longer than the next person’s but unless the customer understands why that matters, the cash register isn’t going to ring. Marketing strategy is about recognizing the differences between you and your competitors. Marketing is about communicating the benefits of those differences. Always talk about how much better you’ll make the customer’s life if they do business with you instead of the competition.
2. Listen to your customer
The best brands were built on an inherent process of listening to customers and responding to the issues and needs that were expressed. One of the best examples is that of Sam Walton, who founded the Walmart empire. He opened his stores in small rural communities where the prevailing business logic said a mass retailer would never be successful. But Walmart was successful because Walton had listened to customers in these small towns and understood their needs. He knew what they wanted and how their buying habits differed from those who lived in large cities. The result is one of the world’s largest retailers.
3. Start your marketing before your product is ready
Too many businesses wait until everything is perfect before they start their marketing. New flash: it’s never perfect! You have to create demand even before your product is ready. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo is filled with products that are marketed successfully and fully funded before they even begin manufacturing their products. Work on your marketing to create demand before the product is available so that when the product is ready, customers are ready to buy.
4. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain
Marketing is constantly changing. Communications and media are in a constant state of flux. Today we have the web and social media, but there’s no way to know what the future will bring. The only thing we can be sure about is that things will be different than they are today. Use all the options available, but use them in a way that makes sense for your business. For example, it doesn’t make sense for most brands to use all the social media platforms that exist. Use the ones with audience profiles that match your target market. Try guerrilla marketing techniques as well to surprise people. Consider how Elon Musk sold $600 million worth of Flamethrowers in a single weekend.
5. Test everything
In business you can’t afford to try things with no way of knowing how they turned out. You need to be able to measure everything you do. Track conversion rates from every marketing effort. Track your website. Track Email responses. Test intelligently so that you know exactly what was different about each test so that you know what worked and what didn’t. Run multiple types of campaigns in small batches so that you don’t waste too much on something that might not work.
6. Be consistent
In today’s over-communicated world, you’ll blend into the background noise unless you are consistent in your communication message. Be distinct. Try different things. But always be consistent with the brand voice, the overall styling of your brand identity, and the general message you want people to take away in relation to your product or service.
7. Remember that word of mouth is the best form of marketing
No matter how sophisticated we get with communication tools and marketing options, one thing never changes: what others say about you is way more powerful than anything you can say about yourself. Allow yourself a way to get word-of-mouth marketing to work for you. This can happen through public relation efforts like news articles and blog posts, through networking, or through existing customer referrals. Even a single quote mentioning your company can still be highlighted as your product being “mentioned in XYZ publication.” That goes a lot further than paid advertising, and lasts longer too.
8. Encourage feedback
Customers are more aware than ever that they have a voice, and you need to respect that voice. Encourage feedback and don’t be afraid of negative feedback. Offer a feedback form on your website and encourage people to use it. The best companies are responsive to negative feedback and address it in a public way, such as social media. Remember that if you have a good product, for every negative response you might encounter numerous customers who are happy with you and will speak up in your defense. It can be PR gold if, by responding intelligently, you are able to turn a negative customer around to make them a fan of your product or service.
9. Offer incentives for repeat sales
Reward customer loyalty with special loyalty programs, discounts and other ways of rewarding those who do business with you. Continuously reward existing customers with perks to let them know that they are valuable to your business. This kind of relationship can be a bond that lasts for decades and gets passed from one family member to another over time. Existing customers are 40 times easier to sell to than a new customer, and they can be powerful brand advocates.