From the outside, marketing looks like magic, especially using social media.
It's a snap to create newsletters but you don't have permission to send them to strangers.
It's easy to create a website or blog but you need fresh compelling content to attract traffic.
You can create tweets in seconds but you can't make anyone get them.
You might nab media mentions but how do you leverage that recognition unless you have a proven deliverable?
PoofSome companies get amazing results with little effort. Or so we like to think. A firecracker creates a bang but extinguishes quickly.
As the boy who cried wolf learned, when you get attention the first time, you better deliver. Earning revenue takes ongoing attention and that takes a strategy.
The TrapYou first need to know you have a product or service for which there is
- actual demand (e.g., peace of mind), or
- latent demand (e.g., iPad)
There are lots of great ideas. Some are even executed well. That doesn't guarantee success or a sustainable competitive advantage. The Apple iOS used on iPods, iPhones and iPads works extremely well. Despite recent innovations like iCloud, Android is catching up. Casual users already seem indifferent.
You can't tell predict what will work. Even Hollywood makes flops. Monty Python's cheese shop (YouTube) was the cleanest but that’s not want customers wanted.
In The BeginningIn the beginning, marketing is about watching and listening. You absorb information. You think about your message and then develop one. This is when you create the branding basics to look legitimate (e.g., brand, logo, business cards, website).
Once you have a prototype that seems to work, you’re still not ready to start your marketing campaign. You don’t yet have independent external evidence of success.
Focus GroupsYou can take the focus group route if you have the time, money and believe the results. Would a focus group predict the success of smartphones, Starbucks or Facebook? Even working prototypes may not be enough for them to tell.
How we behave in theory is not how we behave in real life. The focus group is not actually buying with their own money, which limits the value of their opinions. They could even be paid. Your real customers might not be the target you envisioned. How would you include them in a focus group?
Field TestingAnother approach — the one I use — is to field test your prototype and fine tune. Start with prospects or influencers you know. See who will pay you with attention. Next make or initiate several sales. You now have promising signs of success.
If you provide a service, it might close to what your competitors have or could easily copy. If you claim you’re superior, you’re like Rogers vs. Bell. No one wins. Finding the right positioning is challenging and may take iterations before you explain how you’re different.
You’re now ready to scale up your marketing with interviews, articles, blogs, tweets and maybe even advertising.
The RiskA wind-proof fire starts with a spark but you first need to prepare and get the timing right. Marketing takes savvy — and something worth marketing.
- The perfect trio for a service business
- The myth of Search Engine Optimization
- The folly of the Rogers/Bell attack ads
- Image courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski (Poland)
PS Best wishes with your initiatives