The good news is, I’m also betting every one of your competitors is marketing backward, too.
Let me explain.
Imagine sales aren’t where you’d like them to be. The sales graph is moving the wrong direction — down. You think, “What can we do?” The answer hits you: “I know! We’ll do a mailing!”
You rent a list of 5,000 people who fit your target market. You think about what you can send. “Let’s send our catalog!” a fellow staffer says.
“That would be too expensive,” you respond. “Wait, I know. Let’s print a two-sided flyer. Wait, even better! We can make it a self-mailer. Print both sides, but make it a tri-fold, so we can stick a label on and then mail it! Wait, wait, we can send them out using bulk mail! That’ll save even MORE money!”
You create the tri-fold self-mailer, have it printed with a bulk mail indices in the corner and stick on the mailing labels. Someone takes them to the post office and you all pat yourselves on the back for a job well done! Sales should start picking up again soon.
You take off your marketing hat and go back to your office.
Then, the mail arrives.
You pick up the stack of mail and stand over the trashcan. You start flipping through the mail, quickly separating the “A” pile from the “B” pile. After tossing another piece into your “B” recycling bin, you notice a tri-fold self-mailer. It’s got a mailing label with your name stuck on the front. In the corner is a bulk mail stamp.
What do you do with that piece? You throw it straight into the trashcan! It’s junk mail.
You’re no longer wearing the marketing hat, the hat where you decide what to send. You’re now receiving the marketing piece and you have a very different perspective.
Another scenario: An advertising salesperson convinces you to have an appointment. She’s selling packs of postcard coupons in a big mailer. “This goes out to 43,000 people and you can have a postcard with your specific message inside for less than 6¢ per person!
Wow, 43,000 people for less than 6¢ each? you think. Heck, if I only get .01% response, that’s FOUR new customers! That’s worth it!
Choosing the medium first — a bulk mail campaign, Valpak, a trade ad, social media or any other tool — is doing it backward. Media does not drive your marketing. Your market drives your marketing.
In 1986, I was a guest on the Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power. Dr. Schuller was a televangelist based out of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. His mega church sat 4,000 people. At the time, the Hour of Power TV program was broadcast worldwide to about 13 million. After services, Dr. Schuller invited me back to his office for a cup of coffee.
“You were very good out there!” he said. “You should think about being a professional speaker!”
Huh? A professional speaker? Get paid to speak? I had no idea you could do that.
He laughed, “Oh yes, you can get paid very well to speak to corporations and conferences!”
“But how do you find people to hire you?”
Now here I was, a marketing specialist, asking for marketing advice. I should know better, but his answer was awesome.
“Well, how do you hunt moose?”
Huh, again? I was definitely caught off-guard.
Dr. Schuller laughed and went on. “Well, you wouldn’t go to Florida to hunt moose would you? No! You’d go farther north, maybe into Canada. You’d look for a forest where moose lived…where a LOT of moose lived. And, would you attract moose with Hostess Ding Dongs? No! You’d use some kind of moose bait! Something that moose would love to get and none of the other animals cared about. And would you capture a moose with a tennis racquet? No! You’d need some sort of moose gun. A big gun that’s especially made for an animal the size of a moose.
“But the most important thing to understand is, you’re hunting moose! There are a lot of animals in the forest — bears, wild turkeys, otters, maybe big cats, birds and fish in the streams — but you aren’t interested in ANY of those other animals. You are only interested in moose.”
I’ve carried that marketing lesson ever since and it makes for the strategic marketing foundation for all of my clients.
Over the years, I’ve refined how I look at the advice Dr. Schuller gave me and developed a simple model. I call it the Marketing Diamond™.
The first step in any strategy is to define and understand our Market. That’s the top of the diamond. As Dr. Schuller explained, it’s the most critical.
Who is your Market? Who is your Moose? How narrowly can you define your Market? What do you know about your Market? What keeps your Market awake at night? What problems, challenges, obstacles, aspirations, objectives and projects do they have? The more clearly you can define your Market (your moose), the better.
I remember a few years later when I was sitting in a meeting of Nordstrom executives, Jim Nordstrom called me in to add an outside voice. Every time an idea came out, someone at the table would ask, “Well, how do you think Barbara would feel about this?” And they’d talk about Barbara. Another idea was suggested and, once again, someone asked what Barbara would think.
I was confused. I began wondering if Barbara was so important, why wasn’t she at this meeting?
They all laughed and said, “Barbara isn’t real. She’s our ideal customer. She’s 40 years old, married, with two kids, and a household income of $150,000, fairly social and upwardly mobile. Whenever we make a decision, we put ourselves in Barbara’s head and wonder what she would think.”
They were hunting moose! This was my first real exposure to a common practice now known as developing your avatar. If you can create a mental picture of your ideal customer, it makes it much easier to “think” like your customer.
The second point on the Marketing Diamond™ is Message. Does your Message match the Market?
This is where you develop your bait, the bait that gets the moose’s attention and attracts him to you. Just as important, is that none of the other animals want that bait. Think of a dog whistle as a good example of the perfect message. You blow a dog whistle and you get the attention of dogs. Only dogs can hear it. It’s sending the perfect Message.
The Message is always delivered from the Market’s perspective, not yours. Remember, the Market wants to hear your Message.
Robert Collier was an early marketing/advertising pioneer and author of The Robert Collier Letter Book. He wrote:
You know that every man is constantly holding a mental conversation with himself, the burden of which is his own interests — his business, his loved ones, his advancement. And you have tried to chime in on that conversation with something that fits with his thoughts.
Another way to interpret Collier’s message is — always enter the conversation that is already taking place in the customer’s mind.
The better we are at understanding what our Market is thinking, the easier it will be to develop a relationship.
What keeps your Market awake at night? What’s the first thing on their mind when they wake up? What challenges, problems and hurdles are they facing? On the flip side, what are their aspirations, dreams and goals? Think about it this way. If you’re young and single, you probably aren’t thinking about life insurance. But when you get married and have a baby, you might start worrying about your family’s future if something happened to you. That’s the perfect time for an insurance salesperson to get your attention.
The better job you do matching a Message to your Market, the more successful you’ll be.
Now imagine you come up with a Message that only you can say…only you can promise…only you can deliver. That’s where the concept of Uncopyable comes in.
The third point of the Marketing Diamond™ is Media. Now we can start thinking about the tool we should use to communicate with our Market. We’re now looking for the most effective and efficient means of communicating with our moose. We want to go to our moose.
Does our Market attend a trade show? Then I’m exhibiting at that show. Do they read certain magazines? Then I’m looking to advertise or get an article published. Are they on social media? Maybe I can target them with Facebook’s Audience Insights. Even better, maybe our Market is in a Group.
The point is to look where you can effectively and efficiently reach your prospects after you’ve identified them and developed your Message. It’s just plain dumb to pick a medium first, and then hope your Market is there.
There are hundreds of possible tools you can use to reach a Market. And here’s something very important to remember; they all work for somebody! Anybody who tells you to put all of your marketing dollars into one tool (SEO, social media, anybody?), is simply trying to sell that tool to you. Period.
I recently encouraged a corporate client to provide fax-back forms in addition to an online URL in a direct-mail campaign. They reluctantly agreed and were shocked by how many people used the fax. I studied their moose and figured they still had fax machines sitting next to their desks, and I was right.
The fourth point on my Marketing Diamond™ is the Moment. I believe the purpose of marketing is to be on the mind of the exact right prospect when the prospect is ready to buy. We don’t know when that Moment will be, and too often our marketing efforts are really only aimed at people who are ready to buy right now.
But unless you have a low-cost impulse item, we all know the majority of prospects are not ready to buy right now. When we are communicating with our Market, we should always be cognizant of this. Think about developing your relationship for this reason: When the lightning bolt comes out of the sky, strikes your prospect on the head causing them to say, “I need that product right now!” do they think of you first? Do they think of you second? Do they think of you at all?
The objective of an Uncopyable Marketer is to be the ONLY source they think about.
Developing the Marketing Diamond™ for your company takes some time. But once it’s in place, that plan literally becomes a system for you, a flywheel if you will. Ultimately, you’ll gain new customers, and the opportunity to create an Uncopyable Attachment that keeps them coming back, again and again.