As we end this turbulent global year and look forward to a shining new one, I decided that the best gift I can give is one of knowledge and sharing. Some of the information offered is known by many, but others may be seeking it for the first time as their panacea to a fresh new beginning. It is in this spirit, that it is offered.
After a lifetime of helping people get their message across about their company, their cause or their artistic persona, I have sometimes forgotten that questioning does not occur like breathing for everyone. So often people are looking for the right answers when it comes to marketing. However, the real truth lies more in the questions that you ask and not necessarily in the answers. I KNOW that I don’t have all the answers, but I do know some of the questions.
The simple truth of the matter is that there are many variables that contribute to success. You can seek to roll the majority of them into a plan of action, but ultimately it all starts out with the “who, what, when, where, how and why” questions. The answers to these questions aren’t magic, but they can make all the difference in the world between success and mediocre.
1. What’s the purpose?
Stephen Covey is well known for the motivational and successful business tenets that he outlines in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I was lucky enough to attend one of his all-day workshops and the specific lesson that has stayed with me for over 15 years is his Habit #2. It states: “Begin with the End in Mind”. To me, this is the point from which all things develop. By envisioning what you seek to accomplish in the end; through an endeavor, an awareness campaign, a marketing piece or even a cause – you have established the framework upon which to build your story or presentation.
2. Who’s your audience?
Simply put – know your audience. Vegetarians are not interested in the latest type of burger on the market and children have very different tastes from grown-ups or even the senior population. It seems like a simple concept, but all too often companies want to be all things to all people. If that is the case, then your brush strokes for presentation or delivery need to be very, very broad or the inherent nature of your business or product must appeal to all. Usually, the overall accomplishment or successful penetration in the marketplace comes from targeting a specific type of customer or their unique qualities as a consumer. And usually, they have VERY different profiles. Last, but definitely not least: Are you trying to reach an existing constituency or a brand new one?
3. Who should be involved?
Creating an effective team further enhances your ratio of success. By involving decision makers from the beginning, you create a vested interest in the project and they help move the project forward. However, just because they are the boss, they may not be the best to consult for execution. If their forte’ is digital media and you’re exploring print ideas, talk to an expert. Don’t forget that some of the best ideas come from the end user. Whenever possible explore the opinion of the “man in the street”; after all, they are your potential customer.
4. How much is your budget?
Be realistic about the dollars you have to spend and know what it is in advance. Otherwise, it is “shooting from the hip” marketing where you haven’t used your eyes to aim at all! If you’ve done your homework, you don’t have to break the bank. Think about placement and where your audience is already located. A modest success on a slightly smaller scale is infinitely more effective than a failed effort on a larger platform.
5. Who’s crafting the message?
In our ever changing and bustling society of multi-media bombardment, very often – less is more. While you may want to tell the world every single nuance about your business or cause . . . by doing so, you may in effect dilute your message and the impact will be lost. Rely on professionals to help you edit. Your message needs to be concise, precise and consistent. People will notice.
6. What is the best delivery?
Again, there are so many choices out there. As an example, if you’re targeting an older market, they respond well to the written word. They trust what they can read, process and who they know to be trustworthy. Newspapers, direct mail and radio and television personalities who have “come into their home on a daily basis” are valuable. The younger generation wants fast delivery. Make it short “sweet” and to the point and delivered to their smart phone where all forms of communication happen all in one place.
7. When is the best time?
Take a look at community calendars, the time of year and what else may be happening in people’s lives. There is always something going on somewhere that could reflect your outcome. Take the time to think about how people conduct their everyday lives and move forward accordingly. Consumers are now very educated and savvy. So don’t try to sell them snow blowers in summer and swim wear in winter, unless of course you can convince your audience that because they are doing so, they are getting a spectacular “off season” deal!
8. What else is out there?
Know your competition and what they have to offer but don’t be afraid of them. Find your unique niche and put a spotlight on what you have to offer. The best playing field is always a full one. Remember that partnering is healthy and creates win-win situations for everyone involved.
9. Why should this work?
There are no guarantees in marketing. However, knowing your audience, doing your due diligence in planning and presenting a message that is attractive to the consumer is the key.
10. How will you measure success?
Make sure you have the particular measurement tools or monitoring mechanisms in place to measure your success. Debriefing a project or campaign is just as important as its initial planning structure, maybe more so. If you have a wildly triumphant outcome but are unsure how you actually achieved it, how will you duplicate that formula again? Success does not always translate into simple facts and figures. Don’t attribute or misplace dollars with feelings. Sometimes accomplishment can hinge on intangibles that continue much longer than any projected blueprint. Ultimately, they may be the factors that propel you forward to a radiant future.