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Status Quo Marketing: Messages With No “Secret Sauce”

There exist tons upon tons of marketing in our world: in print, in display ads, and on the Internet. Almost all of it focuses on the companies which are doing the marketing; meaning, the marketing messages are about how Company X: is #4 in their overall industry, the best of their industry in their home state or county, have this or that award for [fill in the blank], or even have been in business since Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. These ads are also focusing on the products and/or services they offer, including their features and benefits.

You may be thinking, “Well, of course! The business needs to state their standing in their industry. If they are highly recognized, have a long legacy of being in business, or display testimonials from satisfied customers—if they can. That’s what inspires confidence in potential customers. So these potential customers choose that business over another competing business. That is the purpose of marketing.”

And, if this is your thought, you would be correct. That is what marketing is and what marketing has been for decades—the development of messages that profess the awesome-ness of a company. It starts with how one business owner’s company is better than Company B or Company C because of the features of their product, the length of time they have been in business, the quality of their product, and their dedication to customer service, etc.
So What’s Wrong?
In the above example, I painted a very generic illustration of most of the marketing we see and hear, Company X claims its awesome-ness is greater than Company B or Company C, examples of their competition. Let’s call that generic example Company A.

Well, just as you know everything about your business, Company A’s owner knows everything about Company A. And just like you, Company A’s owner is committed to having his/her marketing materials represent his/her Company in the best manner possible. However, Company A is speaking from its perspective—the perspective of Company A; how great their products and services, are, how great Company A is, what high percentages they may have achieved in their Quality Assurance, how they are the #1, or #2, or #10 out of 400,000 businesses that provide the same products/services, and why we should buy their stuff instead of buying from Company B or Company C, who offer the same, or similar, products/services.

Yes, that is the third time I’ve made the point that marketing messages drone on and on about their business. This point is “business-critical” so I want to be certain I’ve driven the point into your thinking.

Still, what exactly is wrong . . . ? Company A, as well as a minimum of 85+ % of business marketing media, speaks only from the perspective of the business not from the perspective of the customer they hope to attract to their business.

Marketing Then vs. Today’s Marketing Message Tsunami

Has this manner of marketing worked? Yes, it has—notice the past tense. Can it still work? Yes, but it is far less effective than it was in its “hey-day.” Consumers now are far more sophisticated. Back in the 1940s, for instance, catalogs, newspapers, flyers, magazines and radio delivered marketing messages were the norm. Some people were actually excited to see advertisements, since ads were the primary way to discover new possibilities in what was available. You just had to say how great your company was, what you had to offer, and how customers could get what you had. If your product/service was something the customer was looking for or wanted to have and could afford—done deal.

While I wasn’t around in the 1940s, I have been around since the mid 1950s. No, I’m not going to tell you exactly how old I am; girls don’t do that. And the older we get, the less inclined we are to offer such ‘classified’ information. But why should you care about (approximately) how old I am? Purely due to the great variety of marketing I have experienced and been involved with, in my time. Believe it or not, I actually started working regularly at the ripe old age of three, in a field where I was actually part of the marketing—working as a fashion and photography model. So, while I do not have any formal degrees in marketing, I have been involved in the business since well before I started kindergarten. Now that you have my marketing history credentials, back to our brief journey through the recent history of marketing.

In the first few decades of television, the volume of marketing messages a given person watched, read, or heard over the course of a day was easily tolerated. According to Jay Walker-Smith of Yankelovich Consumer Research, back in 1970 the average person was exposed to apx. 500 advertisements each day.

Fast-forward to the early 1990s, which was also the infancy of the commercial aspect of the Internet, and the daily exposure had increased to about 5,000 advertising messages per day. A recent study that actually reflects values from 2009, estimated that the average person is exposed to nearly 30,000 marketing messages each day. And mind you, those values are from 2009.

So, where are all of these marketing messages? From the time, you get up in the morning, when you notice the tags on the clothes you will wear that day, the logos on the components of your breakfast or coffee, the banner ads during your TV or online news, and the mass of marketing emails—add to that the logos on cars, trucks and buses, roadside billboards, bench billboards, on the radio, that pen someone gave you, the vendors you pass . . . everywhere you are flooded with marketing messages. And you haven’t even gotten to work yet.

Exactly how many of those marketing messages do you remember from yesterday? From this morning? I can almost see the blank expression on your face . . . the answer is, probably, next to none of them. Maybe two or three. Of those you do remember, did any of them leave you with a positive, or favorable impression?

A boat-load, correction, make that a “planet-load” of change has taken place since this predominating style of marketing message was “crowned” effective. Yet, with all of the new possibilities for delivering our marketing messages, the messages themselves have barely changed. Sure the graphics are richer, the delivery flashier but the message is eerily familiar, “Hi! We’re the best; forget the rest. Buy our stuff!” Multiply that by 30,000 per prospective customer, per day.

Is it really any wonder that yester-years preferred marketing technique has become less effective? Your potential customers; everyone’s potential customers have become effectively immune to traditional marketing messages.
What’s Missing from the Message is “Business-Critical”
What’s missing . . . ? Any focus on what their customers and potential customers need. What problems their potential customer has. Whether he/she is currently in need of any one, or more, of the products or services Company A has to offer. Such messages aren’t speaking TO their prospective customer, they are talking AT him or her. Customers aren’t interested in reading, or hearing, your company resume. In today’s marketplace, that missing element—acknowledgement of the potential customers’ needs—is “business-critical” to turning your marketing message into a customer and prospect magnet!

The Solution

What is the Solution . . . ? Shift the focus of your marketing message to serving your customers’ needs. From a consumer’s point of view, marketing is largely a din of “white noise.” They aren’t even going to take conscious notice of it unless something about a particular message ‘speaks’ to them; that is, speaks to a need, suggests a solution to a problem they have, offers the answer to a question, or satisfies a curiosity.

Also, your business needs to be producing more than just one piece of good information for your prospective customers to discover. You need to produce customer-focused information on a regular basis, through articles, blog posts, Frequently Asked Questions, podcasts, and/or short how-to videos. Provide reasons for your prospective customers to come back to you/your business/your Website. If they have reason to go back to you when they have other questions about [something prospect needs], you/your business will be in their thoughts, “Oh, I’ll go check Karen’s site because I know there’s going to be a video there about how to do [something prospect needs] or there’s going to be a checklist for [something prospect needs]. Besides, when I ‘search’ for [something prospect needs], what comes up is usually from Karen. So, I might as well just go to Karen’s site, and not have to spend 20 minutes navigating through dozens of websites to find my answer!”

This solution is also the ‘base’ ingredient for your “Secret Sauce.” You must shift your marketing messages from being all about your company to being all about serving the needs of your prospective customer, your target audience.

Are you thinking that this sounds too warm and fuzzy, too wishy-washy, too altruistic to be a change that will translate to money in your pocket? I assure you this is the best and surest way to increase your sales.

Some proof: in today’s marketplace, 78% of all shoppers use the Internet to research and make purchase choices, according to the most recent report from Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG). This Cisco group addresses the trends and market transitions reshaping the consumer landscape. Two years ago, this same report reflected 57%.

Why does this matter to you? Well, there are several reasons. First, it illustrates why your business needs an online presence—an effective online presence. If your business does not have an online presence already, that is definitely an item for your Marketing To Do List.

Second: shifting your marketing messages to being customer-focused will be the ‘base’—the core ingredient—of your “Secret Sauce.” But that’s not all! Yes, I know, that sounds too much like certain TV commercials you may have heard. What can I say, I couldn’t help myself. J Seriously though, more can be added to your “Secret Sauce.” Adding some “extra flavorings,” so to speak, to your “Secret Sauce” will make your new marketing messages even more powerful; providing the foundation toward also making your marketing memorable. Memorable marketing is a core element to an even greater volume of referrals as well as inspiring more repeat business. Assuming, of course, you want lots of referrals and more repeat business.

12 Steps to Effective Online Marketing

Step 1 – Why Social Media Is YOUR Most Powerful Marketing Tool
Step 2 – Human Nature And Negative Word of MOUSE Marketing
Step 3 – Great Examples of the Power of Social Media Marketing
Step 4 – What’s Missing From Traditional Marketing Advertising
Step 5 – Anatomy of a Customer-Focused Marketing Message
Step 6 – Be Clear Exactly Who You’re Marketing To
Step 7 – Adding “Story” To Make YOUR Marketing Memorable
Step 8 – Boost Your Business Providing 1 or 2 Resources WITHOUT Selling
Step 9 – YOUR “Business Voice” What it is; why it’s important
Step 10 – A Sampler of Social Media Types/Channels
Step 11 – Which Social Media Will Work for Your Business
Step 12 – Working Social Media Into YOUR Regular Business Operations

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Vivianne “Viver” Winters Israel Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.