Marketing Information


Key Marketing Questions - Planning Your Marketing Campaign


So you started a business. How's it going? Did you think about marketing when you began planning for your business? Marketing is how you get the word out about your business. Marketing will ultimately determine if you succeed or fail. So, how can you succeed? What questions should you be asking yourself? Here are the BIG FIVE!

WHO DO I WANT AS A CUSTOMER?

Let's say you were trying to sell a video game. To effectively sell a video game to a fifteen year old requires an entirely different conversation than selling the same item to his mother. To be successful in marketing, you must segment your possible customers into different groups who share common concerns. If your product could be sold to a fifteen year old or a 40 year old, you'd better decide who you are going to focus your marketing efforts upon for the greatest success.

Visualize your prospective customers. Pick an ideal customer. This would be one you might already have intimate knowledge of (like your own age group and gender). Now, describe detailed characteristics of your ideal prospect. Be very specific. Crawl within their mindset. What is important to them? What worries them? What problem of theirs can your product or service satisfy?

Based upon your detailed description of your ideal customer, develop a powerful sales message. This message should appeal directly to their unique interests and needs. Prospects are more likely to respond when they feel you are talking directly to them about their individual needs.

Once you have decided upon an ideal customer, you must decide on the ideal outcome of your marketing efforts to that prospect.

WHAT IDEAL OUTCOME DO I WANT TO PRODUCE?

Customers buy for their reasons, not yours. If you want to sell them your product, you MUST sell to their concerns, not your own. Every piece of marketing copy must FOCUS upon them. If you don't speak their language, you don't get their money.

Decide in advance what ideal outcome you are trying to stimulate. Do you want to get inquiries for your product or service? Do you want to build a list of qualified prospects willing to receive frequent offers from you? Do you want to produce sales directly from your promotion? Each of these ideal possible outcomes would be designed in a different way. The first step in the successful design of a marketing message is to decide on the ideal outcome. Then, stay focused upon that goal.

Once you have determined that ideal outcome, you can develop an effective promotion. When you have a clear understanding of the action you are trying to generate, the design of your message becomes easier.

WHAT IS MY COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE?

The cheapest and easiest marketing in the world is free advertising. How do you get free advertising? Do something OUTRAGEOUS or just different from your competition! Become news worthy. How?

When Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream first tried to expand to a nation-wide operation, it had trouble finding distributors. They determined the problem was that Pillsbury put out the word to all distributors not to work with Ben & Jerry's. Pillsbury's edict effectively blocked Ben & Jerry's from the services of the national distributors. What to do?

Ben & Jerry's set up a one-man picket line outside Pillsbury headquarters. The picket sign read "Who's the Doughboy afraid of?" The result? National-wide FREE publicity on television and newspapers. Publicity they couldn't afford to buy.

In order to differentiate yourself from the crowd of competitors, you MUST be DIFFERENT!

How to differentiate yourself? Start by identifying why prospects should do business with you. Why you instead of your competitor selling a similar product or service? For example, do you provide faster results, easier procedures, personal attention or a better guarantee? If you cannot think of one reason - create one. Add something to your business you are not already doing. Change the way you currently do something.

Differentiating yourself from the competition is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish. It is also one with the largest positive impact upon your bottom line. Differentiating yourself will increase business.

HOW WILL I PROVE MY CLAIMS?

Don't expect prospects to believe what you say. They are exposed to millions of messages containing marketing hype every minute of every day. Stand out from the crowd by making sure you provide proof of any claims you make.

For example, collect and use testimonials from satisfied customers. Provide research data or reference articles supporting your claims. Write articles about the product or service you sell to establish yourself as an expert. Or, get endorsements from experts your prospects are likely to recognize.

Proof of your marketing claims will move you a long way toward a sale and a happy, returning customer.

HOW WILL I CREATE URGENCY FOR THE CUSTOMER?

Most prospects will not respond with the desired outcome the first time they see your promotion. Instead, they may delay making any response. The longer they delay, the better the chance they will forget about you. How do you make them take action now?

You can convert many into buyers by giving them a compelling reason to respond immediately. For example, give them a special price if they order now - or include a valuable bonus if they order by a specific deadline.

Get in the habit of developing a series of special offers. Use them one at a time with an expiration deadline. When one offer expires, replace it with the next offer (and a new deadline). This enables you to create urgency in the minds of your prospects and drive sales.

In summary, you need to answer all of these marketing questions before you can create a motivating web page, sales letter or presentation. The answers will reveal how you can get your prospect's attention and stimulate them to take the action you want. Stay focused on these questions and answers as you design your marketing efforts. Time to start? NOW!

Michele Schermerhorn calls herself a "Corporate Freedom Fighter" dedicated to freeing cubicle prisoners to experience their own successful online business. She has over 30 years experience in the business world and over 12 years running her own successful online businesses. She is President of Online Business Institute Inc. (http://www.obinstitute.com), authors a sassy marketing blog (http://www.imarketblog.com), and regularly conducts free online seminars. Online Business Institute Inc. exists to "Create Successful Online Business Owners One Person At A Time".


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