Marketing is Hard, So Stop Marketing

Over at Remarkable Communications, Sonia Simone has a thread going on why marketing is so hard. It’s worth a read. There was a time in my business life when I found marketing to be the biggest mystery I faced. And as I work with clients 1-on-1 I’m finding that it’s a mystery to them too. Even, clients who I consider experienced marketers are finding it hard. But it doesn’t have to be hard.

Much of the stress and confusion I hear from clients is focused on how to market. I think this comes from the virtually limitless media choices you as a business owner have at your disposal. You have the same issue that your customers have…too many media outlets and not enough time.

So where should you invest your time, energy and money?

That very question just came up in our forum. But focusing on “how” to market misses the point. You really need clarity about WHO you are marketing to first. Then you need clarity on what you will tell the “who” you’ve identified.

The problem is that it’s a lot harder to force yourself to sit down and think through who you are marketing to and what you’ll say. While, it’s really quite easy to call up a web designer and get a website or a PR firm and get some print ads running.

So why is it hard to get clarity on your market (who) and your message (what)? After working through this with a couple of clients in the last few weeks, I’ve found an interesting trigger to getting clarity.

Don’t Market, Advocate

Being an advocate for your market places you in a position of power that you simply can’t achieve if you’re just selling. You’re in your customer’s corner, with his interests placed above yours. Your prospects and customers will recognize you as an advocate and reward you for it.

So how can you tell if you’re being an advocate?

If you say “my market is anyone who needs an ABC widget” you’re not an advocate. Being an advocate means knowing who you’re fighting for. And knowing who you are uniquely capable of helping. Understanding their needs. And knowing that you will only sell to them when what you offer is right for them (not when it simply makes you a buck today).

If your marketing message talks about your accomplishments and the features of your offering exclusively, you’re not an advocate. Your message should address the hurt, the wants, the questions of the market you are advocating for. Sure you’ll have to share the details of your solution, but that’s secondary.

The good news…a simple change in perspective, from marketer to advocate makes it very easy to identify your market and decide on your message.

Find Your Market as an Advocate

This is so simple it’s scary. If you’re in business now, who are your best, most loyal, happiest customers? You’re already an advocate for them. Figure out if they are one group, or several sub-groups.

Write what they have in common as it relates to your offering.

  • What pain do you heal for them?
  • What opportunity do you make possible?
  • Why is it important to them?

Then ask yourself, who else has that pain or opportunity? Paint a picture of a typical person in your market. Describe them in as much detail as possible. Try to think of a specific person. The more detailed your description, the easier it will be to find people that fit the description.

Build your Message to Serve

Knowing who is in your market, it becomes much easier to build a message that serves the people in your market. Answer these questions:

  • What pain do you heal?
    • Why is it important for your prospect to be rid of that pain?
    • What consequences will they face if they don’t address it (consequences that you want them to avoid)?
    • What benefits will they feel when it’s gone.
  • What new opportunity is now possible for them?
    • How will their lives improve?
    • What will they lose out on if they don’t act?
  • Why is your message important?
    • What trends are affecting them and what do they mean?

It’s all about them. That’s all your prospects care about, really. And that’s OK. It’s your job to connect with them, in their world, in their terms.

You can’t do that if you’re just blasting a hyped sales message out.

But you can do it VERY effectively, if you’re in their corner, working for them.