When people think marketing, they might think about the 4 P’s (product, place, price and promotion), or Super Bowl commercials, or now social media. There are many techniques people use to DO marketing, but before you overthink and get overwhelmed, let’s take a big step back and simplify marketing down to its essential essence.
Marketing, done well, is like having a conversation with your best, most empathetic friend. A good marketer understands your needs, some needs that you might not even know you have. They know your concerns, your hopes, your aspirations and they address them in a way that’s compelling and relevant for you.
So if you are a person who is tasked with developing marketing, or an entrepreneur launching a business, or trying to determine why your sales are not growing – you need to step back an fully analyze, “Who is my customer?” Not just their demographic profile, but understanding who is the person most likely to need, value and purchase your product. The more you understand what drives them, what voice they appreciate, and their habits, the better you will be able to create content that will resonate. You will need to be able to answer the following four questions:
- Who is my customer?If you think about an ongoing business – your customer is anyone who is willing to pay for your services. But understanding them, and what makes them common as an aggregate will help you refine your offering to them. It is easy to start with demographic information – age, gender, income – but you may have customers that cut across the demographic spectrum because that is not what they have in common. What they have in common is question number two.
- What is their problem?What is the underlying need? And what is the need behind the need? If you have a restaurant, for instance, you need to really understand how you fit into that category. Let’s use lunch as an example. If you fully understand question one, you’ll know what type of market you are targeting. Do people need to get in and out quickly? Are they eating alone? Are they there for a power lunch business meeting? Are parents coming in with their pre-school kids? Are you in a high traffic area where a drive through window is necessary? If you think lunch problems are only about eating, you are missing the opportunity to really understand what drives your customers and how you can differentiate what you offer to meet their needs and the need behind the need.
- How do I solve it?Have no illusion that your potential customer doesn’t already have a solution to that problem. The solution may be learning how to live with the problem. Anyone who says, “My product has no competitors because it is so innovative,” is overlooking the biggest, most challenging, competitor: inertia. Getting people to change habits is extraordinarily difficult. Make sure you understand their need and how what you are offering fits as a solution.
- Why is that better than other solutions they may choose?Staying with the restaurant analogy – do you offer a wider menu selection, faster service, better pricing, more convenient seating? People have lots of choices when making restaurant selections, and one of them is staying hungry.
You can see we haven’t even touched on how to communicate your offering, benefits, or call to action. Before you worry about what channel to use to reach your target audience, you have to have an in-depth understanding of all four questions which will help craft the message that will resonate with your target audience, your new, best friend.