6 Ways Marketing Will Make You More Money
Marketing Psychology, Inc. Marketing and Sales From the Inside Out Gary Witt, Ph.D
Companies often pay little attention to marketing, thinking they can’t afford more than the basics. And start-ups believe once they open the doors, their customers will pour in. That’s a mistake.
Without strong marketing, most businesses are on death row. But there are many smart marketing moves any company can take to increase business – without spending more. Here’s how:
The core of this strategy is simple. Whether you have a great message or a mediocre message, you’re going to spend about the same money to put it before your customers. But the great message will bring more people in, increasing you ROI. Chances are you have little idea what that message should be, or how to present it to your customers!
Here are some ideas on how to do it.
1) Find out what your customers are really buying. HINT: It is NOT your product or service! Most small business owners think customers want to buy their products (or services). That sort of “wrong end of the telescope” thinking leads to problems, and often you don’t know why. Here’s why.
People by products to satisfy certain motivations. If you are now focusing on your product’s features, you’re looking at things backwards. For example, people don’t want a Big Mac, they want to satisfy their hunger, save time, save money, and enjoy a few minutes with their children. So McDonalds ads promise to satisfy all their customers’ buying motivations. Do you? Focus on these underlying buying motivations, and use your features to prove you can deliver.
If you don’t know what your customers are really buying, you’re missing sales you could have made. If your answer to the question “What do your buyers want?” starts with some feature of your product, you don’t know what you are selling!
2) Play on their emotions. We usually think of a buying decision as logical – our customers evaluate features and benefits, compare them to our competitors, and make a decision. In fact, buying decisions nearly always are based on emotions as well as logic. For example, there are few logical reason to spend $50,000 on a Corvette, but people do it every day. If you could drill through the surface reasons they give, you’d find two emotional buying motivations: “I want to go fast and look cool.” We all buy on emotion then use some logical reason to justify it. “I need this candy bar to keep my energy up.” “I need this dress to go to the party.”
By carefully analyzing their motivations – their needs, wants, fears, and desires – you’ll uncover several strong emotional motivations you can use. This is how Michelin became the “safest tires on the road” in the minds of many Americans. It had nothing to do with scientific studies, and everything to do with their TV ads of the little baby zipping around a cartoon road inside a Michelin tire. Visuals sell better than words. Promising to satisfy strong emotional motivations (“I fear for my family’s safety”) will often win the sale, dragging logic behind it kicking and screaming.
3) Use a focus group to uncover hidden opportunities. Companies think they know a lot about their customers, but often that boils down to knowing what they buy, and some demographic information about them like age, gender and income. It’s useful, but it doesn’t tell you what’s going on in their minds, their needs and wants, their fears about the product, their daydreams about how it could make their life better. If you don’t know some of these hidden motivators, how can you promise to satisfy them and win the sale over a hot competitor?
Focus groups are a cheap way to dig deeper. Several firms, including ours, do focus group research. Or you can do it informally by getting together a dozen customers to talk about your business, products, employees, service, prices, etc. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn. Two quick points: Pay participants for their time, and be sure to have food for them. The ideas you’ll get will pay off at the cash register. If you can afford survey research, that is the other “bookend” in your needed customer research. Surveys are big enough to give you more confidence in their findings – important when you are risking money on marketing!
4) Exploit a weakness in your competition. Every company – including yours – has at least one glaring weakness in the minds of its customers. Maybe you don’t know it, but customers do, and they will tell you in the focus group and survey. If you discover your competitors’ weaknesses in the minds of their customers, you’ve got a key to break into their castle.
For example, when Stolichnaya vodka was first introduced, it was able to take customers away from then top brands like Smirnoff and Wolfschmidt because they discovered people had no idea where those liquors were made. Stoli got buyers to switch by reminding them the best vodka was made in Russia, like Stoli, not in Indiana or Connecticut. Notice, too, that nothing changed about the vodkas themselves, just buyers’ perceptions of them! They could not get it out of their heads that they were drinking Indiana vodka. Creating powerful perceptions about a competitor is a strong way to help gain their market share.
5) Make your brand stand alone. You may have dozens of competitors selling the same things. This confuses buyers. In some cases they just decide to buy strictly on the basis of price or brand name. This eliminates the worry and confusion. But how do you get picked? One way is to have an image that breaks out of the crowd, that stands alone atop its own category.
That’s what Nyquil did. Nyquil was lost in a sea of cough medicines, until they repositioned themselves as the “nighttime cold medicine” – a category they created in people’s minds. Suddenly, when buyers thought of what medicine would let them get a good night’s sleep, Nyquil was the brand they thought of first. Look for ways you can copy Nyquil’s smart image transformation. Create your own brand category and put yourself at the top.
6) Don’t give up too soon and don’t spend too little. Business owners often expect results too soon. They run an ad and expect a line at the door. People are bombarded with thousands of “buy me” messages every day, and they actively try to avoid most of them. It takes time for ads to work. A good rule of thumb is that people must see your message at least five to seven time before it pays full dividends, like a change in brand image or a visit to your store. Of course, a bad ad won’t work no matter how often you run it! Ad content is king!
Don’t spend too little on marketing, the competition is too stiff. Many businesses just give marketing what is left over, when it should be at the front of the budget line. Want some help? Talk to a media buyer. You’ll be shocked, but at least you’ll know. Experts say that even good businesses fail primarily because of cash flow and poor marketing. Of course, good marketing should lead to good cash flow.
These are just a few ideas that can help you bring more customers in your doors. You’ll find many more ideas and advice in other articles.