I’ve helped businesses craft effective marketing materials for almost 25 years now, and I’ve had every type of client.
There are the clients who want their website to appeal to everyone — no matter if that means making the design and content so bland it might as well not be there at all.
There are clients who don’t really know why their service is good, or the ones who don’t have a marketing strategy beyond “pitch this product.”
Sure, I could take their money and create a single-product promotion, a bland one-time campaign, or help them run one ad that they think will turn everything around. But it burns me up inside.
Because I know that even with a limited budget, they can create an effective marketing campaign.
So here it is: before you throw money at a designer to start a project, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I know who I’m trying to reach?
As the Copyblogger radio show talked about last week, this is where every marketing effort has to start.
Who, specifically, do you want to sell to?
I know, I know. You want to sell to everyone. But stop for a minute and think: who really needs your service? Who can’t live without your product?
That’s who you need to focus your communication on. The hungry, clamoring buyers who must have what you offer. If you bring in a few people outside that group, great — but target the ones who have to have your offering.
When you think about this group, write down:
- Their age range
- Whether the group is primarily male or female
- Their education level
- Their specific geographic location
- Which of their common problems your products or services can help solve
- How they prefer to buy
Paint a thorough picture of who you want to reach. Round out that picture with as much detail as you can.
This information will allow you to shape your content and your marketing design in a way that resonates with the specific people you want to reach.
2. Do I know where to find my market?
Are there publications or websites that serve the market you want to reach? How about clubs or associations they might belong to?
Research in-person opportunities like conventions and other networking events that might give you a way to reach the group you’re targeting.
Narrow down where they like to hang out online. Do they frequent certain forums? Are they into Facebook or Twitter? Is it a LinkedIn kind of crowd?
Figure out where they hang out, and you won’t spin your wheels (or waste your money) placing ads and distributing marketing materials in all the wrong places.
3. Do I have a decent tagline?
Your tagline is the short phrase that accompanies your business name. There are two styles of taglines, and to be most effective, you should pick the style that best matches your business name.
- If your business name doesn’t state what you do, your tagline should.
- If your business name makes it clear what you do, your tagline can add to that, potentially being less specific and more intriguing.
Let’s look at two examples:
Say your company is called “QuickDoc Emergency Medicine.” The name of this business says what they do: this is the place we go when we have a medical emergency that doesn’t call for a hospital waiting room.
The tagline for Quick Doc Emergency Medicine could be, “We Make It Better. Fast.”
Now imagine your business is called “Smith Company.” If you use “We Make It Better. Fast.” with that company name, you’re not giving us enough information. We have no idea what you do, or why we should be interested.
So if your company’s name says it all, feel free to be creative with your tagline. But if your company name is more creative (think: Google), use a specific, benefits-oriented tagline to communicate what you do.
4. Do I have a compelling offer?
A lot has been written on the pages of this blog about creating compelling offers. Here are the main points:
- Solve a real problem (in other words, a problem your buyers care about, not one they don’t).
- Meet a basic need. These are: to make or save money; feel like part of a larger group; save time and effort; support your loved ones; impress others; build security; or gain more pleasure from life.
- Overdeliver on the value you provide for the price.
- Make a solid guarantee that puts your prospect’s mind at ease.
- Incorporate a call to action that clearly communicates what you’d like the recipient to do next.
Creating an irresistible offer is at the heart of any marketing piece. Even if you’re simply sharing information, make sure it’s presented so that you solve problems, meet needs, and deliver value.
5. Have I positioned the offer in terms of benefits along with features?
Features are what your service creates or your product does. They refer to tangible aspects of your product like the color, size, and accessories. If you offer a service, they may refer to things like availability, delivery options, and your level of service.
Benefits refer to those intangible qualities your product or service offers that make your customer’s life better. They connect your product or service with the emotion it evokes when customers buy from you.
Some people think features are bad, or wrong to include. They aren’t. Features are important: specifications, colors and delivery information all help your prospect make a buying decision.
But they don’t work very well alone. Pair features with benefits to plug into a part of your prospect’s brain that motivates them to act. People buy so they can experience the emotional and logical benefits you’ve promised.
6. Do I have a system in place that will lead toward sales?
Individual marketing pieces should be considered only one part of a larger sales system that will lead your prospects to the point of becoming customers.
Before you talk to a designer about creating your next marketing piece (or you put it together yourself), make sure you have a plan in place so that you know how all the pieces fit together to help your customer make the journey from prospect to paying customer.
You might set it up like a marketing funnel in which a prospect moves from a free offering to a low-priced product, and continues on to higher-priced offers.
Or you could divide your target market into groups who will be interested in one service over another, and plan to meet all their varied needs.
Either way, have a system in place. Drive prospects from one marketing arena to another — from your e-mail newsletter to your website and your Facebook page, for example. Weave a web of helpful content that will keep them engaged no matter where they interact with your company. And use your system to help them make the journey to loyal, paying customer.
Think, plan, and then create
It’s easy to get marketing wrong: you can end up dumping a lot of money into ineffective solutions if you’re not careful.
But a little pre-planning can make all the difference. Pull back to see how your efforts fit together, and make sure you craft your content carefully.
Then, whether you do it yourself or hire a designer, you’ll be spending your dimes on design and marketing efforts that will yield results.
What do you think about before you start working on a new marketing piece? Anything to add? Let’s hear it in the comments.
About the Author: Pamela Wilson helps small business grow with great design and marketing.