When marketing just don’t work

You have to learn the rules of the game.
Then you have to play better than everyone else.
Albert Einstein

If your marketing works, it wins big and fails small.

If your marketing don’t work, it wins small and fails big.

It’s easy to know if your marketing will perform like magic or if you’re about to start incinerating money.

A marketing plan describes something being offered for sale, prospective buyers, and instructions on how to put the two together in the hope of making a sale.

When your marketing plan is designed by your market, success is almost guaranteed.

Oh, so you want details? OK.

My premise

What you are selling—whether product, service, or combination—is a solution. Solutions either solve specific problems or create specific desired results. If your marketing speaks to a solution your target market doesn’t care about or a problem they don’t have, you just lit your first bundle of cash.

How do you find out what your target market wants and what problems they’re dealing with?

Ask them.

Yeah, it’s really that simple. At least the knowing is. How you use that knowledge is another matter.

Still want more?

Assume your solution addresses attracting and retaining staff. You can describe the customer issue as a problem to be solved. “We can’t find enough staff or keep them long enough to recoup our hiring costs.” You can also describe the same customer issue as a desired result to be realized. “We want to hire more quality people who want to be a part of our team for the long term.” It’s all about how your market perceives their situation. This is one of the precarious nuances of messaging.

So, when do you use the “desired result” approach and when the “problem to be solved” approach?

There’s a precarious balance between messaging for wants vs. needs. According to Salesforce Training, “people are willing to run greater risks to avoid losses than they are to make gains.” If the market is driven by fear, focus on solutions to problems. If the market is driven by wants, focus on desired results.

While this may lead you to conclude that fear is the best approach, both work well when properly executed. There is no simple or straightforward way to make that determination. The ideal approach is to lead with fulfillment of wants with solutions that also serve needs. That is tricky.

When I say sometimes marketing don’t work, I mean it don’t work when you think you know your customer better than they know themselves. This is not an existential issue, nor is it an issue of conscious or subconscious awareness.

The only way I know to avoid this misguided perspective is to talk to your customers, talk to your market, talk to anyone who lives in, operates in, or has insights about your market. Pay attention to their words and the way they use them. There’s bound to be a lot of tribal lingo in there. Using that lingo will give your marketing communication credibility.

If you sound like you’re trying to sell when you’re trying to gather information, it will undermine your efforts. If you want help crafting a plan to gather this information, I can do that. The opportunities to be part of my clients’ journeys are how, as leaders, we grow and learn together



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