When I was a kid, I used to build and launch model rockets. Once I entered a model rocket contest where the winner was whoever shot the rocket off the highest. I had no idea what I was doing, but that rocket was definitely not built to get altitude!
I didn't know how to balance the rocket out or make it streamlined. Plus, I didn't understand the importance of a proper launching pad! When I launched my rocket in the contest, it promptly veered sideways, not going very high, and it momentarily terrified me as it headed off toward the crowd! Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and it was a fun experience.
I see a lot of people doing the same thing with their marketing. They go out and get business cards, a graphic design, and a logo, then they attend a lot of different workshops and seminars on how to market their business. But there's no unifying plan, and worse, they don't have a solid marketing platform. A marketing platform would include their Core Marketing Message, clarity on who their audience is, and what they're looking for. These elements are what I call the "marketing launching pad".
If you are guilty of not having a marketing launching pad, this is the most powerful starting place for you if you want to get effective lift off. But don't think of "marketing planning" as a one-time occurence. No doubt, you've heard the adage: "Failing to plan is planning for failure." On the other hand, it's been said that while planning is important, the actual plans themselves are useless. This apparent contradiction applies equally to both overall business planning and your marketing planning.
Why? As you to invest necessary time and thought into your marketing strategy, you'll learn what works and doesn't work along the way. And as you do, elements of your marketing plan will and must be modified. You'll see opportunities that weren't obvious earlier in the planning process. You'll discover new insights. You'll learn more about marketing.
So, how can you plan for marketing success?
The keys of successful marketing are to
- Effectively promote awareness of and the value of your product or service
- Get the attention of the right people.
And who are the right people? They are
- Actively looking for the solution you provide
- Ready to buy, right now.
I recommend the following proven approach based on sound marketing concepts:
1. First, establish the Core Market Position for your company. Your Core Market Position defines:
- Who you are marketing to
- What is your prospective customer's big problem or burning desire
- How your offering provides a solution for their need or desire
- Why you or your company is the best solution provider.
2. Second, create your Core Marketing Message. Your Core Marketing Message clearly states:
- Evidence that you understand your customers' frustrations and desires.
- Why your customers may have been dissatisfied with other "solutions" and how your products or services are distinctive, different or better.
- The results your client/customers/consumers experience (through testimonials, before-and-after stories, and other evidence of outcomes).
- How the customer knows they can trust you (your commitment, expertise, and guaranty)
- The features and especially benefits of your products and services.
3. Third, "package" your communication. Take the concepts of your Core Market Position statement and Core Marketing Message and put them into words, both in written and verbal forms. The emphasis here is on crystal-clear communication. Your Core Market Position and Core Marketing Message need to be presented in ways that capture the attention of the right people through web sites, brochures, flyers, and conversations with others.
4. Fourth, consider promotion. Only after the previous three steps have been adequately addressed is it appropriate to consider strategies for getting the word out. To effectively promote your products and services, practice this four-step approach:
- Attraction. In this era of information overload, you need to effectively capture the attention of the people you can benefit from your offerings.
- Discovery. Once you've gotten their attention, it's vital to explore their issues, problems, and challenges and ways you might be able to help.
- Conversion. After they've explored ways that you can help, you need to help them to see the value in using your products and services so they are compelled to purchase them.
- Consumption. Once your customers have made a purchase from you, the sale isn't complete, yet. Unless they actually use your products and services, they won't get their value. And, if they don't get the value, they won't ever come back to buy more or tell others about them. So, it's important to support your customers and clients in actually using your services and products, long after the sale.
Building your business based on sound marketing principles is critical to success.
Your Core Market Position and Core Marketing Message serve as the foundational platform for launching all of your marketing campaigns and strategies. Once these fundamentals have been established, they can be appropriately refined, packaged and promoted, according to the changing needs and the demands of the marketplace.
- Commit to investing time and energy into developing a solid marketing messaging platform that includes the above principles into your marketing plan.
- Enlist third-party assistance (for example, current and past customers) to help you review your current marketing materials and compare their contents with the key elements of the Core Market Position and Core Marketing Message as described above.
- Define manageable steps you need to take to enhance your overall marketing messaging. It's a lifelong process of testing and refinement... or, rocket launching, if you will!