The other day, my son asked me where babies come from.
Like any responsible parent, I took a deep breath, sat him down on my knee, and began to explain…
“From the Pixie Queen, who sends them down on the backs of unicorns, who drop them carefully into baskets weaved by midget elves. Mummies and daddies find the baskets during their honeymoons.”
It seemed to do the trick.
Now you may laugh at my son’s willingness to accept this balderdash (and anything else kids accept during their hilarious childhoods), but take a step back from yourself a minute and answer honestly: when it comes to Marketing, how different are you?
What I mean is this: if you run a business, large or small, you know marketing is something you need to do to move forward. And you all do it too, with varying degrees of success. But do you know what marketing actually is?
“Who cares?” you say. “If I’m doing it already, why do I have to worry about what it is!!!”
Well, trying telling that to your kids – when they want to give you grandchildren!
It’s not the best analogy I know, but if you want to make a marketing baby (ie a strategy that works again and again, consistently), then you can do it one of two ways:
- Fumble about a bit, and end up with a surprise bundle of joy after 9 months.
- Develop a loving relationship with the love of your life, buy a new house, build a nursery, discuss names, set up a trust fund and read all the books about parenting that Earth has to offer.
It’s a no-brainer eh? You do things better when you know what you’re doing.
The first thing to know about marketing is that it’s a relationship between you and your customer, and not – as many believe – about promoting your brand and ‘selling yourself’. These are important, of course, but they’re only part of the story. You can have the flashiest advert, funkiest website and coolest shop front on the planet, but without the relationship… you may as well be selling sun cream in a cave.
So how, then, do you form this enduring relationship? Well, think about the loves and friendships of your real life for a minute. When you got to know these people, did you approach them with a deal of some sort? Did you bombard them with messages telling them how brilliant you are? Or did you, come to think of it, have something in common, and take it from there?
This ‘something in common’ is the driving force of all relationships – not just marketing. We all want to share the company of like-minded people; we want to belong. Before you tell the world about your brilliant products and services, think about what makes you different from your competitors.
And by this, I’m not going to give you the same old speech about ‘your niche’. That’s important too of course, but can you really be unique in your niche? In a world population of 7 billion people? Really?
Not quite. What makes you truly, utterly unique is only one thing: YOU (Unless you have a clone, in which case you’ll have to share your success – good luck with that). If you think of yourself as someone who ‘sells such a thing’ or ‘provides the other’, you’re just one of millions out there. But if you look at your real life story – how others see you and how you see yourself – you’re as rare as motorised custard. If a customer is to remember one amazing deal more than any other of the amazing deals out there, it’ll be simply because they remember the person that gave it to them.
So how, then, do you make yourself remembered? Well, in marketing it’s known as the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST factor, and it works in the same way all relationships do.
You get to know a person, you start to like them, and then you trust them. Simples.
The ‘know’ bit is more scientific, and I’ll talk about that in another blog. But the ‘like’ part is where the birds and bees get together (in a business sense, this is a family blog thankyou) – and make beautiful babies together. In other words, KNOW is getting yourself seen and LIKE is the spark; the romance. That can only happen if you can give more than ‘stuff’ to each other. So what have you got?
Well believe it or not you’re an EXPERT in your field! When someone clicks on your site, visits your shop or follows you on social media, they don’t just want a product you can supply. They want to learn something, and experience something new. If you sell fishing gear, for example, think about what ‘fishing’ actually means to your potential customers. Is it something they need to do? Most certainly not.
It is something they enjoy doing (love even), and as such is part of a lifestyle they have chosen which is not restricted to the hobby of fishing alone. Connect yourself with that lifestyle as a whole, and you connect with that person.
So what does an angler do when he/she is not fishing? Where do they hang out? What other sports do they like? What do they watch on telly? What celebs do they admire? Get to know your crowd, and consider what expertise you have in any of their interests. You’ll probably be surprised by what you know, and, ultimately, what you have in common besides fishing!
And of course, this applies to whatever field you’re in. Once customers start to know and like you, they’re much more likely to trust you. And trust is more than some ethical thing! In a bamboozling marketplace with so many deals, low prices and ranges to choose from, trust might just be the deciding factor for the confused consumer. From their point of view, it’s efficient to act fast – and they’ll only do this when they trust you.
In the next blog, I’ll give some practical methods for building the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST factor – starting with Value Added Content. Be warned though: there’s good news and bad news. But guess what? The good news is well better, and there’s a lot of it.
For now, though, I’d just like to plant that little seed. From tiny acorns grow great oaks, and from respectful, loving relationships you can also bear… er… fruit?
Yes! That’s what I’ll tell him if he asks again… we grow on trees!