Killer Marketing For Small Business Starts With Accepted Beliefs
Over the next few posts I’ll concentrate on the three main building blocks of any effective small business marketing strategy: customers, competitors and environment. My focus is to show how to elevate your ordinary knowledge into extraordinary power.
Since knowledge is power, extraordinary knowledge is ass-kicking power. Every small business marketer knows they need to understand the wants and needs of their customers. However, if that’s all you’ve got, then welcome to the herd. You have a lot of company.
And you have a lot of work to do. Whatever you need marketing for, whether you are a small business owner trying to figure out a way to grow your business, or a marketing manager trying to learn how to grow your product or service, understanding the wants and needs of your customers is elementary stuff.
You’re looking for an edge. You want to break out of incremental growth. You want to make serious money. You want to blow the doors off the joint, right?
Understanding Accepted Beliefs Is Your Marketing Ammunition
You can do that by understanding the accepted beliefs of your customers. When you know what they believe about your product or service you gain strength. When you also know what they believe about your competitors, you’re gathering serious power.
Your goal is to know what customers believe about you and your competitors’ performance on meeting their important wants and needs. Your goal is to find the unmet wants and needs, or the under-served wants and needs. Then you will discover marketing opportunities.
The SWOT Should Lead To A Breakthrough Moment
Everybody skims over this issue in the “SWOT” analysis. But for you, the SWOT should be a revelation, a breakthrough moment! But it never gets beyond ho-hum because everybody’s in a rush to fill in the blanks to their “marketing plan template.”
Customer demographics:√. Customer needs:√. Customer segments:√. Competitors:√. Strengths and weaknesses:√. Opportunities and threats:√. Let’s move on to strategies: NO, let’s not move on to strategies yet.
Slow Down For Crying Out Loud!
There’s nothing wrong with most of the marketing plan templates out there. They present the fundamentals of good marketing. But you want to go beyond the fundamentals. You want to run with the big dogs. Or maybe you just want your business to survive.
The way to develop a powerful marketing strategy is to fully understand the unmet needs of your market and to then create products and services that will fill those needs better than any competitors.
Sounds easy enough. Except customers don’t think this way. They don’t just tell you what product or service they really need. You have to figure that part out. The famous story along this line is that people didn’t tell Henry Ford they needed a car. They told him they needed a faster horse.
Why Accepted Beliefs Are So Important
If you haven’t read Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout, read it. It’s a small paperback and a quick read. Read it and you’ll be way ahead of the herd. This little book is one of the best marketing books of all time and should be required reading for anyone that applies for a business license.
In this book, Ries and Trout talk about how people think about products and services. Customers put products and services onto a ladder in their mind. Your product or service will only occupy one rung. One rung. That’s all you’re gonna get. One rung in the customers mind.
And customers are very busy so they only have room for about three rungs for each product category in their mind. You need to figure out what category you are in now in your customer’s and prospect’s mind. And what rung do they put you on.
What the heck I am talking about is this: what do customers believe about you now? And what do customers believe about your competitors? Customers distill products and services down to one idea. We all do it all the time.
It’s human nature to generalize about some specific incident they experience and then to believe that that experience will be true all the time. Human beings are master box makers. We put everything into mental boxes. That’s how we can process the enormous amount of information we experience every day.
Since your customers are flooded with information and rushing to process it all, don’t expect them to be rational about it. Human beings are mostly emotional. So they will be emotional about the boxes they put you in.
Here I am substituting the word “boxes” for “rungs” on the Ries and Trout ladder. I just like thinking about customers’ minds that way. If you already have a business, then customers have already put you into a box. If you are starting a business, you have an opportunity to influence what box they put you in.
What Customer Box Are You In?
Next post I ‘ll focus on brand attributes. That’s another name for boxes or rungs. I think it helps to think of customers putting my brand in a box rather than choosing brand attributes.
When you know what box you are in in the customer’s mind, then that gives you a starting point for your persuasive argument, which becomes your marketing strategy. More on that next time, since I don’t want you to put me into the “Too Wordy” box.
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