I was shocked after checking into printing rates this season after a client asked me about low cost printing options. What he wanted was a lower printing bill, and he was afraid that by asking me to handle it he’d end up paying for design time plus printing rates in the neighborhood of the rates he’d seen quoted online. If you’ve got a design you like already, I can still help you get the best possible printing prices with no extra charges for design time. I’m always frustrated when I hear new business or small business owners talk about finding great deals through online sources like Vista Print. Sure, that means I didn’t get their business, but more importantly it means that I know they paid waaaay too much.
If you want to make your marketing really work for you, it pays to spend some time getting clear about your marketing message. What I mean by that is you want to understand your products or services from your customer’s perspective. That kind of understanding is what separates the pros from the hacks. It helps you to create marketing materials that resonate with your customers, catching their attention and causing them to take action.
What Needs do You Fulfill?
Start off by identifying the needs your product or service fills and how those needs affect your customer. If, for instance, you’re a quaint hotel on the Oregon coast, you offer your customers a taste of your community’s hospitality while giving them a good night’s sleep. Your customer wants a good night’s sleep, but he also wants the rich, connected experience you offer. Emphasizing how your hotel fits into the history of your community on your website will be attractive to your customers because you understand that connection is exactly what they want.
Think from Your Customer’s Perspective
Once you understand your customer’s needs and how your product or service can fill those needs, think about the results of that experience from your customer’s perspective. If you offer low-cost bookkeeping services, for instance, your customers are those who need help with managing their money and books. You can offer that at a cost they can afford. The result is peace of mind anyone can afford. Use that result, the peace of mind and comfortable cost, in your marketing copy. For instance, you could say, “When you trust your bookkeeping to us, you’ll rest assured all your columns will add up no matter how large or small your budget.”
Ask for Action
Now that you’ve identified your customer’s needs, seen how your product can fill those needs, and made a list of the results, it’s time to pick an action. Picking an action is the final piece of clarity you need to create effective marketing materials; one too many small businesses fail to do. What do you want your client to do after reading your flyer or clicking on your website?
While in the end, you’ll want your marketing materials to gain you a sale, the path isn’t always simple and straight forward to that end. Most clients today want to get to know a company and its products or services before making first contact. We all have more information available than ever before thanks to the internet, and that’s made for a climate of more cautious consumers who act quickly but don’t necessarily commit quickly. That means they’re likely to check out your website and maybe look for reviews of your products or services before they contact you.
So what does that have to do with clarifying your marketing message? For each marketing material, you need to identify the primary action you want your potential customers to take. Your rack cards may be designed to encourage customers to check out your website while your website is all about getting them to contact you directly. The marketing copy you write and images you select for each will differ based on the action you’d like the customer to take. This is the key area where many small businesses fail. Because they weren’t clear about the next most comfortable action their potential customer was willing to take and didn’t ask the customer to take that action, they miss a valuable percentage of sales. You can avoid that pitfall by using your knowledge of the kind of people who use your services or buy your products to choose the actions you want them to take and ask them to do so for each marketing piece you create.
In the end, your marketing materials will do the work for you if you’ve taken the time to know your customer’s needs, recognize how you can satisfy those needs, identified the results they can expect, and given your customer clarity on what action you’d like them to take. It takes a little time up-front, but the end result is clarity that’ll increase profits exponentially.