You know what you need to do
"I know what I should be doing. I need to get on and do it."
Oh if ever a sentence captured the most fundamental issue facing so many businesses, this is the sentence.
It could probably be written on the gravestone of many failed businesses and it will probably be the epitaph for many businesses struggling right now.
But is it really as simple as that? Is marketing just a case of getting on and doing what you already know you should be doing?
Well lets start with what we know - things that apply to all businesses:
- Not everyone wants to or can buy what we're selling
- Those who do or may do probably don't want to buy right now (right this minute)
- We usually don't know when they will want to buy
- There are other people offering similar things to us
- To get them to buy from us rather than someone else we need to give them a good reason
Given these facts of business life it would be pretty easy to conclude the following:
- We have to make sure that those people who want to, and have the wherewithal to buy, know about us
- We definitely need to make them aware of us when they are ready to buy
- We need to explain exactly why they should buy from us rather than someone else and we need to do this better than the competition
What more can we deduce from these statements?
Number 1 suggests:
- We need to know who these people are. Who are they? Where are they? How can I identify them? Where do they go? What do they do? What do they like? Can I make friends with them?
- We need to identify ways of communicating with them - but just them. Not everyone because most of everyone will never be my customers. And anyway we couldn't afford to contact everyone.
- We need to make sure that the communication helps them keep us in mind and think favourably when they do come to buy
Number 2 suggests:
- We need to determine if there's a way to know when they may be buying. Sometimes we can - seasonal products and services will have some sort of uniformity about timescales. Some products are associated with specific events - ask an ambulance chasing lawyer!
- If we can identify a time when people will buy then our communication needs to be targeted at that time
- If the buying time (as it is for lots of products) has no specific time associated (or at least one that we can't identify) then our only hope is to be communicating all the time
Number 3 suggests:
- We need to understand why someone buys what we are selling - what is the benefit or benefits they get
- We need to understand the messages our competitors are giving and make ours better
- We need to clearly explain in really compelling ways why they get more benefit from us than anyone else
- We actually have to be able to deliver against all the promises we've made
- We need to do that profitably at a price the customer is happy to pay
Does that all make sense? Are my conclusions fair? I don't think it would be hard for most business people to look at the problem and draw pretty similar conclusions.
So yep - fantastic! We know what to do, we just need to get on with it.
So what stops us?
It's easy enough to know what needs doing. In my experience the problem comes when we start thinking about HOW we're going to do it.
- How am I going to work out who I should be targeting?
- How can I find out more about them?
- How can I understand when they will buy?
- How can I discover why they buy - specifically what are the key benefits they're seeking?
- How can I find out what my competitors are up to and what they are communicating to my target market?
- How can I craft really compelling messages?
- How can I get these messages to the right people?
- How can I be certain that I can deliver the products and services my customers need with the service they expect?
- How do I know if I can make a profit?
- How can I price what I sell to get the most profit?
Now marketing isn't rocket science and there is a huge volume of helpful literature out there to help with the "How"s but it does take time, effort and resources. If you can you should get someone who is already an expert to help you with it.
If you can't then you should try to eat the elephant one slice at a time. Pick one small thing that you think you should do and learn something about how to do it well then try doing it. Marketing is all about experiment and you'll find that some things work better than others but doing something is usually better than doing nothing so long as you're testing and analysing as you go.
So rather than "I know what I should be doing" think "I know what I should be doing, I need to find out how to do it really well."
Then you really can beat yourself up if you don't do it!
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