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Most small business owners don’t have the luxury of large advertising budgets. So, to earn revenue they begin making too many promises to too many people in hopes of building up a clientele. Generally this will leave you exhausted and stretched way too thin, and leave your clients’ wondering what it “is” that you actually do. And that brings up a good point. Do you know what you actually do? If I asked you tell me in thirty seconds exactly what it is that your company does, and how it would benefit me as a potential client, could you do it? You need to learn how. In today’s hyper-visual over-the-top advertising world, you only have a few seconds to grab your prospects interest, and then it’s over. With written advertising copy, it’s even less. So, how do you separate yourself from the crowd? How do you get noticed in the barrage of emails and advertisements?
First, study your competition. Find out what makes you different from your competitor. Focus on positive aspects and strengths. Write these down, they will become part of your USP, your Unique Selling Proposition. Your USP is who you are, it is your companies name, it is your logo, it is your ad copy it is that familiar voice you want your audience to embrace. Your USP depends on knowing who and what you want to be. Not only will you need to understand your USP, you will also need to know what “position” what “spot” you hold in your clients mind. Each product, each brand holds a specific position in your customer’s mind. You have to be able to identify this position in order to successfully market your product or service. (Be sure to check out my article on “Positioning” to get a full understanding of how this works. Another reason to study your competitor is that it allows you to create a unique identity. It enables you to be creative, to take what they have done and build on it. By simply studying your competition, you can find their weaknesses and capitalize on them. I am in no way saying to take advantage and begin a smear campaign proclaiming to the world that your competitor is this or that, I am simply encouraging you to notice weaknesses and to creatively use those weaknesses to show your uniqueness and strengthen your image.
Once you develop a USP of who you are, and what you do, develop a simple 3-10 word slogan that can be used in your advertising copy. This is called your tagline. You should use this tagline on all of your letterhead, your envelopes, and your business cards. Humans unconsciously memorize these little chunks and they will spring to mind when something in common is presented. Commercial advertisers know this all too well. How many times have you seen the Mazda commercials…all they had to say is “zoom zoom zoom”. Or the Energizer bunny he keeps…what? You know it. He keeps “going and going and going”. What about Duracell batteries? Duracell, the “..” top. You know, the copper top. It has a copper top that has to mean something. It’s different than the other batteries, and it’s unique. You have to be unique too. How do you catch a potential client? Unique up on them, that’s how.
So, what will sell your product or service? Is it features? One of the oldest marketing stories in the world is about the near tragic end of the railroad. Railroad marketers would preach about the features of the train, leather seats, steam powered, 600 feet long…etc. They missed the point that people don’t buy features, they buy benefits they buy things that align with their values. How about comfortable leather seats that will allow you to sleep and arrive rested at your location. This train has 2 powerful steam engines that will save you days, faster than horse or boat. The train is over 600 feet long enabling you to carry plenty of luggage and supplies at no extra cost. Benefits are what will attract customers to your product or service. People weren’t buying the train, they were buying the destination, they were buying the process, and the romance of traveling across the country they were buying the destination and how it made them feel. Face it; I’ve had several 3-4 dollar cups of coffee that were terrible. But, I was not buying the coffee, I was buying the atmosphere, I was buying the emotional experience, I was buying a feeling. Simply put, a benefit is a statement that clearly spells out how a prospect will profit or gain from your product or service. A feature is a statement about a product or service. This is also a great time to put yourself into your customers’ shoes, they will usually do a wonderful job of telling you what benefits they want from your product or service, you just need to listen. Key benefits that customers are usually looking for are: “Will this help me save or gain more money?” “Will I have more time?” “Is it easy to implement?” “Will this improve my health?”
Marketing is not an exact science. Marketing is about harmonizing with your audience. What do I mean by this? Every market has a particular energy; a good example would be a radio station. You may have easy listening, hard rock, reggae, and Jazz. If I wanted to sell a tape on meditation and relaxation, I probably wouldn’t choose the heavy metal station. I would not be harmonizing with the listening audience. If you are selling to a particular niche market, you need to understand the energy of the market, and then write your advertisements and create your identity around that market. The main thing is to keep evolving, keep testing and keep listening. Your customer will help guide you to success. Lastly, put to use what you learn, continue to change, continue to evolve. The old saying “once you stop moving, your dead” is true in life as well as in business! So, hop to it!
This article was written by Stephen K Knight. You may use this article on your website, or email copies to friends as long as the article remains in its completed form and the author’s name is included.
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