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Don’t be invisible Use marketing techniques that work

The process of marketing is a complex and involved one and everyone’s definition is slightly different. We are all involved in marketing in one way or another and to varying degrees. However, what is marketing, because only by understanding what it is can we effectively implement the principles of marketing and take our products and services – or those of our customers in the case of marketing companies – to the next level. One definition of marketing is: ‘Marketing refers to activities undertaken by a company to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses.’

While the product or service is an essential element in the marketing process – let’s face it a bad product only has a limited lifespan – a good campaign can go a long way to influencing market acceptance. As marketers it is your job to understand what constitutes a good campaign and what to avoid. Your efforts can mean the difference between market success and failure, between ‘in-your-face’ and completely invisible. There are a plethora of techniques which you have at your disposal to make campaigns for your customers successful, but not every campaign will work for every product, service or customer. The trick is finding which strategies or techniques will work in each case.

That said, there are a few universal techniques which you will have in your arsenal. The aim of this article is not necessarily to teach you anything, but more to list some of the ideas and concepts. Being the professionals that you are, they should be ingrained but, as with everything else in life, you can become so used to doing something that you forget the little things.

A good place to start is looking at some campaigns which have catapulted the particular product into the stratosphere of the public’s collective mind. Think of Apple Computer with the launch of the Mac which saw the relatively unknown alternative to the PC became the holy grail of graphic design, or Nike which saw this struggling sports shoe brand go from virtual unknown to market leader in next to no time. These are two good examples of simple marketing strategies which, when followed, can have amazing results.

Before commencing with a campaign there are a few things which you have to have set and in mind. Going in blind and flying by the seat of your pants can work but, more often than not, planning and defined goals will pay off better.

The first thing which you need to know, after understanding the product or service, is what the marketing goals are? Is the client wanting to explain a product, expand its coverage into new markets or increase sales to existing markets, launch a new product or change perceptions. Every goal will require its own strategy, its own channel or channels and its own process.

There is a saying which goes something along the lines of ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. If this is true then it means that for every product out there, there is another just like it or at least similar. You have to look at what sets this particular product apart or makes it different. You need to find the Unique Selling Proposition or USP. This may mean that you have to list the differences or that you have to play on the similarities but it all comes down to how you inform potential customers as to why they should choose you particular product over that of the competition.

Another supremely important factor is the need to know, precisely and with absolute clarity who the target market it. What follows may seem strange but, your customer may not necessarily be the best judge of this. Think of this example, your client manufactures ice cream – the first thing that crosses your mind is a young demographic. Consider though that your customer makes a dark chocolate and rum ice cream, now you realise that the product is more suited to a mature customer base. While your client may want to reach the younger age groups it makes far more sense to appeal to the more mature demographic with a more sophisticated palate as this is where you are likely to have the greatest success.

This means that not only do you have to know your client but you have to know their products, almost as well as they do if you are going to successfully market those products.

There is one thing that you as a marketer need to understand, consumers don’t actually want the product you are selling, or any product for that matter. What they are looking for is a solution to a problem that they have. Whether this problem be as simple as a craving for something to eat or drink or as complex as a having a unique and unusual website design or, having a house built underground. If your marketing strategy can offer them that solution then your message will win through.

There are a few things that you need to do to position yourself or your company as the right one to be able to present the correct marketing strategy. Ensure that you know your stuff, people buy from people they trust but more specifically from someone who does not appear to be trying to sell them something. The connotations of salespeople are usually negative, so if you are selling, chances are they are not buying. Provide the right information and appear as an authority and you will gain their trust.

Being an effective marketer means being able to look past your personal or professional biases and consider the best channels for your client, his product, or the desired audience. While a WhatsApp message might be the best for the lunchtime market for a sandwich chain, Instagram is more likely to be successful when announcing a Techno Party at a club featuring the latest DJ’s aimed at varsity students. For the older sectors of the community the local newspaper or freesheet may be best, while homeowners may want to see a printed notice informing them of specials on having their roofs painted. Knowing your market is one thing, but knowing which vehicle or vehicles will work best to address that market is equally important.

Do not overlook any of the channels available to you. Failure to consider all channels could result in your campaign failing or falling short of expectations.

Here are a few tricks and tips which you need to consider in devising your campaigns. Some of them may seem like common sense but are worth the reminder, others will seem a bit off-the-wall and then, there are those designed to allow you to recover from a disaster.

These tips are taken and adapted from an article by Dan Stelter on the Wordstream blog. Dan creates persuasive lead-generating content for B2B software, SaaS, and service companies, earning him the moniker ‘The B2B Lead Gen Guy’.

Perhaps the most important advice that can be offered is to understand that not every campaign will work. You will have failures and the best thing that can come from this situation is the ability to learn from the mistakes, find out exactly what went wrong and then move on stronger in the knowledge that you will not make that mistake again. Any number of reasons could be the cause of a campaign failing and this could have nothing to do with the campaign itself. The worst thing that you can do is to dwell on this exhaustively. Work out the problem and then move on. There may be little consolation to your client in this, and it may mean that you have to devise a completely new campaign but, it is preferable to flogging the proverbial dead horse.

So, what should you do?

Creating a campaign is about the product or brand, so make it about that. Do not let your own perceptions or biases come into play. Tell a story about the brand and make it real. Talk about the benefits, the features, what makes the brand unique, and other relevant facts. However, what is important here is how you do it. Consider telling a story and appealing to the emotions of your audience. Refer to your target audience’s past or evoke other senses such as smell, tie into emotions such as love or hate, the sense of loss or victory.

By engaging all the senses through the medium of a story which your target audience can relate to, you will exponentially increase the response rate. Consider a campaign for a car where the television advert relates to the experience of driving the car, the e-mailer explains briefly how easy it is to own the car and the direct mail facet features a scratch and sniff element where you can experience that new car smell and link it all together with a solid, believable story based in fact and you could have a winner.

Stay within the range of the brand perception or product category. Your client’s brand – if established – will be known. If your client makes sweets, it is advisable for them to manufacture a new type of sweet but not to add a shampoo to the mix, as an example. They are not known for shampoo and as such are not likely to be very successful with this new addition. As a marketing professional it is your responsibility to suggest the correct course of action, even if that means that the planned product should end up being scrapped.

The next suggestion comes back to the old adage of thinking outside the box. More specifically it means convincing your client to do something which his competitors will not even consider. This could even be as adventurous or brave as being prepared to fail. Competitors will usually play the safe bet and stick with the status quo accepting the middle ground rather than taking a risk and potentially losing their market position. An example of this could come in the form of banking on an unusual or relatively unknown social media influencer, someone who doesn’t necessarily tie in with the norm for the product type but who offers a very wide reach.

One tip which is often overlooked when creating a campaign is the existing market base. While new customers or new market segments are the holy grail, you and your client must never overlook or underestimate the market which has bought into the product thus far. Keeping the existing market base happy is actually more important than acquiring new customers. A strong and well-devised campaign aimed at the existing market base can pay real dividends. Show them reasons why they should remain loyal, reasons they my not have previously considered or, which they may have forgotten and you can renew their love for the product or brand.

If your client is intent on launching a new product and the onus falls on you to suggest a path to market, you should consider the route of creating a completely new brand name. While it does mean that the product or brand will not benefit from market experience, it will prevent the market from assuming that your client has no expertise in making that type of product and rejecting it out-of-hand. Assuming it is a good product, which has tested well and received some market approval, having a separate brand can allow the product to achieve the heights for which it was destined. Assimilating it into an existing brand could result in abject failure for the simple reason that the market does not expect that your client could make something like that.

The final tip, slightly altered from the advice given by Dan Stelter in his article is that you should make a promise which you can deliver on but it must be based in truth. The old adage under-promise and over-deliver comes to mind. If you make promises in your campaign which the product or brand cannot deliver, then not only will the campaign fail but so will the product – and it could be your fault.

You are in the business of marketing your clients, their brands and products. While you are a de facto custodian of their brand identity, never forget that you are not part of their organisation and as such you are not indispensable – you can be replaced. Losing a client can be the ultimate punishment for getting it wrong. You are only as good as your last campaign – the days of friendship in business are long gone. Apply these principles to your dealings with your customers and even treat your own brand in the same way. While this is no guarantee of success – there are always other factors at work – they should put you on the road towards success.

The difference between being seen and being invisible is a fine line. Can you achieve the right balance?

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