When you were a kid, I bet your Mom would say things like: “make good choices.” I know I heard that – and said it to my own kids.
Making choices is on my mind today. Not because of marketing (though we will certainly get to that) but because my daughter had to fill out a victim’s statement for a criminal case this week. She was involved in a car accident, and the person driving the car that hit her was arrested and charged with crimes.
The kid that caused the crash made a bad decision.
Bad decisions also can happen in marketing.
Sometimes they happen when a business owner becomes fascinated by a “new shiny toy” being offered by a marketing sales person.
Once, I knew a small – really small – business owner who became fascinated by the thought of advertising their business by buying advertising on the side of a bus.
Sounded great if the business was one that people seeing the bus would be inspired to visit. Think cupcake shops, local boutiques, coffee shops…bookstores.
Unfortunately, the business owner owned a service business that catered to government agencies.
Government agencies don’t hire services based on what they saw on the side of a bus.
Buying the ad was a bad decision. A costly mistake.
Spending time marketing to the wrong people in the wrong place is also a bad decision.
On the other hand, taking the time to learn who your people are, where they hangout, what they need from you and how they make buying decisions?
That is a good decision. A choosing to eat ice cream on a hot summer evening kind of decision.
The discovery phase of any marketing effort will save you time, money, headaches and keep you from making bad buying choices.
Here are my top 4 tips for discovery that you need before you take any marketing step for your business:
- Create personas to identify your ideal customer. The first thing you need to understand is who are the people that you can help with your product or service. PRO TIP: if you just said in your head that you can help everyone, you are wrong. Your target is a specific slice of the everyone pie. Find out who they are and talk to the people that care about what you do.
2. Once you know who your people are, find out where they hang out – online and offline. You will save yourself much time and money if you create marketing in the palace where your people are. This means that if you are selling coaching to solopreneurs, you likely should consider marketing on Facebook. Selling services B2B? LinkedIn may be for you. Software startup? Have you checked out Stack Overflow? Cupcake shop? Maybe that bus ad is something to consider. PRO TIP: Be where your people are.
3. Identify the problems that keep your ideal client up at night and solve them. This sounds easy, but here is where I need you to take a pause. Notice, I didn’t say tell them what you think you do for them. PRO TIP: It’s not about you. Stop and think about the pain that the person who you serve is suffering, then talk about the solution. Don’t sell, share. Offer help. For many this is hard. First they want to talk about what they THINK is the problem they solve instead of what their people really need. Don’t do that.
4. PRO TIP: Be flexible. If we have learned anything over the past year it is that things can change quickly. As business owners, we have to be ready to pivot when our buyers needs change. This doesn’t mean to change everything about your offer, just that you should be able to move as your ideal client does.
The truth is that all of us make good and bad decisions in life and business. Spending some time thinking before taking action can help slow the pace of the bad decision – and make our lives much, much easier.
In marketing, this means doing your due diligence before jumping into any campaign. Thinking about the expected results will help you save your time and money.
You might even save aspirin that you’d have to take after a bad decision gives you a headache.
Now, I’m off to buy that ice cream. Happy marketing!