What does your website or your other marketing materials say about you? Is your key message confined to a shopping list of what you offer, the equipment on your floor, and a timeline of your company’s milestones? Most of us simply tend to describe our company and hope our greatness shines through when we’re trying to convince clients that they should deal with us. Establishing a brand identity and communicating it to relevant audiences is essential if you want to stand out in a meaningful way. But here’s a hard lesson for all of us to absorb – telling the world about us isn’t really about us, it’s about the customers and the prospects we want to turn into paying customers. In fact, all marketing isn’t really about us, but about the customer. So how do you do that? Or in marketing terms, how do you develop an effective marketing platform? Here are a few helpful tips.
It’s about the customers. Take some time to gather everything you know about your customers. Call your reps in for a strategy meeting, get all customer-facing staff involved in developing a profile of your customers. You probably have more information than you think you do. Answer these questions: Who are your customers? What segment, or niche do they operate in? Are those niches healthy or struggling? What do they complain about? What do they need from you? How can they benefit from dealing with you and buying your products or services?
Feel and ease their pain. Each and every one of your customers, or potential customers, faces challenges just like you. They have certain needs, desires and worries. These are called pain points. Solve pain points, and you’ve got your customer locked in. But be careful here not to repeat the old stand-by clichés – great service, fast equipment, new technology, quick turnarounds, etc. In today’s hyperactive business environment, these standards are a given. So get creative and look for solutions – and expressions – beyond those.
It’s not about speeds and feeds. Ok, your press runs at a blistering 18,000 sheets per hour. And you have three of them. All 8 colours. So what? Printing well is what you do, but you must be able to communicate what this means to your customer. A wise (and very successful) printer once said: “Customers don’t buy printing, they buy what printing can do for them.” So yes, you must tell customers about your products or services, but you have to go beyond that and show clients how your offerings will benefit them personally.
Prove your claims. It’s a maxim in writing that you must show readers what you want them to understand, not tell them. This is also true in establishing your marketing platforms. Some ideas for showing or proving to customers that your have an extra edge could include the following: Get testimonials from satisfied customers, produce case studies of problems you solved for customers, showcase your work and get references. These third-party testimonials provide proof of what you claim and add credibility to your message.
What’s the value of dealing with you? This is perhaps the hardest part of your platform to articulate, but it’s absolutely what customers look for. Give this some serious thought, based on your customer profiles, their pain points, and how you can back up your claims. For comparison and market research, look at your competition. What do they do well or poorly, and how can you position yourself differently. You can also look at companies you admire and use their approach to guide how you should shape your message. The key is that customers must see that there is value in dealing with you.
Communicate on all relevant platforms. In today’s world, you have to be on as many platforms as possible. But it has to make sense for your business and your customers. Instagram, for example, works for fledgling models, but may not work for everyone. What you want to do, start with your key messages and points that you have assembled from your research and create a variety of messages – short punch tweets, ads, brochures, press releases, banner ads, blogs, landing pages, presentations, etc. – and then decide which platform each will be shared on.
Deliver a consistent message. Once you decide on your key messages and points, and how you’ll distribute them, you must make sure that everyone in the company speaks from the same sheet. Sales reps need to know that their messages to clients will be reinforced if someone calls in. Customers must hear a consistent message. If they don’t, they’ll become suspicious immediately and will likely look elsewhere.