Four Challenging Marketing Questions

Whether small businesses owners write code or create a disruptive transportation service, the same challenges apply.

Every day, small business owners or managers approach me for advice on how to improve their marketing.  I listen to them share information about their business, review their materials and communication and often get to see or sample their product or service. In most cases, there are certain themes repeated over and over again in coaching sessions. I thought it might be useful to share a few of these themes for those who feel stuck and uncertain about how to move forward.

The marketing themes that I ask about are often in the form of questions. 

If I became aware of your business, why would I tell my friend to use your product or service?
Marketing is about the story that your customer shares with her friends that brings more business your way.  Have you spent sufficient time on that story that resonates with the type of customer you want to attract?  What can you do to make it easy for me to repeat and share your message? Is the story about the product or service or something less tangible? Sometimes it is in the unexpected effort that makes me want to share. At a visit to a Verizon store, I returned a tablet that was a gift that wouldn't reboot. Without a song and dance, they replaced it. It was an easy exchange and delighted me that I shared it with many friends and through social media. 

How have you delighted and over delivered value to someone today?
When someone goes above and beyond my expectation, I notice.  And it is often in those small and little efforts that I realize why I am happy with a brand, product or service provider. When I went to Whole Foods to return some supplements that my wife didn’t need without a receipt, I wasn’t asked to show 3 forms of ID and to swear an allegiance that I wouldn’t do it again. They took the unopened product back and gave me credit. On the spot. I was very happy with the simplicity and respectful way I was treated.  I tweeted about it and shared it with several people in person.

Are you doing something that no one else in your category focuses on?
Can you find an aspect of your market place that can be described in the sentence, “only we” do this.  What is your “only we”? What do you do that no other insurance company, laundry service or hardware store offers? What is it that your natural energy drink does in the regular course of business that no one else pays attention to?  Like the red souls of Christian Louboutin shoes, can you pay attention to something no one else considers important? In my day job, I'm involved with a marketing conference for the wine industry called The Exchange. We always give away a book about marketing to the participants. The event is unique but we always want to do something extra. We know that our competitors don't do anything like this and the small gestures helps make us a company that our industry notices and appreciates. As Jay Baer says, we bring Youtility to the category. 

How do you make business transactions incredibly simple?
I cringe at how difficult it can be to do business in some stores. I find it laughable when I am on a website and I can find a button that says, here is how you buy this stuff. Are you thinking about the user experience enough or are you too close to your own work that you don’t know what it is like to buy from your company?  Find a few people you trust to give you an honest third-party assessment of what it is like to buy your product. Can you make the packaging easier to open? Can you make the navigation on your website simpler and intuitive? How can you make your customer’s day easier? Can you make my phone call really important to you or are you sending me through push-button hell? 

Marketing isn't like a coat you put on to go outside in the cold. It is how you behave in the world in bringing a unique voice to the marketplace. Only you can be you. Consumers and businesses want to buy from those who delight them, focuses on distinctive areas and make things easy. In the end, great brands emerge because everyone wants to share stories about being treated in a special way that resonates with their world view. 

Go be yourself and stop trying to be your competitors. 


Could you use a little challenging coaching to bring out the authentic you in your business?  Give me a call through Clarity and let's talk. 

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