The more the world of marketing has changed, the more certain fundamentals have stayed consistent.
For every new strategy with SEO based on Google's latest search algorithms, social media strategies, or re-targeting ads, there are timeless marketing principles that every marketer must know.
Here are six time-tested, market-validated marketing principles that are just as relevant today as they ever were.
1. Know your target market's hopes, fears, dreams, frustrations, and aspirations.
Before you jump into planning out your marketing tactics...
Before you create your messaging...
Before you design your marketing funnel...
Pause and get clear on exactly who you are reaching out to touch, and what they care about. I can't tell you the number of marketing messages I get each day that show that the person or company behind that message took no effort to think about what really matters to me. The voice was impersonal, self-absorbed, and narcissistic.
Your target market is made up of individuals just like me, and what they want to know is:
"Do you even care about me?"
"Do you really understand me and my unique situation?"
The bottom line is that the most effective marketing message is, was, and ever will be the words that your prospect speaks in his or her own heart. That requires that you get to know them - intimately.
2. The most important marketing decision you will ever make is your "list selection."
Translated into the modern world of marketing, invest the time and energy to narrow your focus down on to the right target market. Your choice of who to go after (and who to ignore) may just be the most important marketing decision you ever make.
More is not better; better is better. So narrow your focus down to the pools of prospects who are most likely to match your target market. Are you really fishing in the right fishing hole? What adjustments should you make? Pools should you test?
In the language of old time direct marketers, "Choose the right list."
3. Speak directly to your prospects as if you were talking directly to one person, not a "marketplace."
Nothing turns off a potential customer more than an email, webpage, or direct mail piece that speaks to the "marketplace." Speak to one person. Whether your brand voice is informal and casual, or formal and precise, imagine you are writing or speaking to one person.
Also recognize that your prospect doesn't care about you. They are just like you and me - wrapped up in their own lives, their own problems, their own needs.
What's the most effective language? Talking directly to your prospect about themselves.
You've experienced this done well before haven't you? A marketing piece or website that just grabs you by color and you find riveting. It was almost like they wrote the copy and designed the messaging to speak to you directly. You are going after that same level of connection and focused attention in your marketing efforts.
Review your key sales collateral and website sales copy. Does it speak to your prospect's needs, desires, situation, and fears? Or does it go on and on about you? "We're great. We care. We're the best, cheapest, highest quality, etc." (Hint: If you use the word "I" more than "you" then you have same important editing to do.)
Or try this: Record a sales presentation you do and put it through the same filter - do you talk about your prospect and her needs, wants, dreams, fears, situation? Or do you go on and on about you and yourself? Make the needed changes.
4. Support your value.
Your prospect is jaded, skeptical, and wary. He is asking himself: "Why should I listen to you? Why should I trust what you're saying?"
How do you handle that? Do what the best direct marketers have done for decades - support your value. Give concrete, believable, real messaging and visual cues that increase trust, build value, and help you gain credibility.
This includes things like:
· Case studies (E.g. "Here is how ACME Inc solved this challenge and how you can too...")
· White papers (A more formal version of a case study, often by an independent, credible third party, whom you may or may not have paid to craft the white paper.)
· Testimonials (Video is best, text with a real photo next, and so on...)
· Results statistics (E.g. "37.3 percent of our users...")
· Use of actual photo or product demonstration
· Market position (E.g. "As the leading producer of..." )
· Endorsements (Implied and explicit)
· Media appearances, reviews, and awards
· Marque players (The big name brands in your marketplace who are your customers, investors, advisors, suppliers, etc. and from whom you can get a "halo effect")
So review your key marketing collateral. Do you make any claims that are unsupported? How could you back those claims up?
Do you effectively capture and use client reviews and customer testimonials? If not, pick five of your clients you'd love a testimonial from. Write a sample testimonial for them to "model" and email them to ask them to "write" the review. Mention that in order to save them time and make it easier for them, you've included an example review. 9 times out of 10 they'll use the review you wrote for them (with only cosmetic changes).
5. Cultivate your "House List".
Do you know who all your "window shoppers" are? These are the people who visit your store, your website, or otherwise check out your business, but don't "come inside" to tell you who they are.
How do you go about enticing these lurkers to tell you who they are and ask to be in conversation with you?
Do you offer them a compelling reason to share their contact information? Do you give them easy and scripted ways to become part of your house list? Sure you can use remarketing ads and cookies to track behavior, and that's a smart thing to consider, but top direct marketers know they want the person to opt in and request to be part of their mini-world.
And once they do this, how well do you go about learning about them? Do you talk with them (or a sample of them) in person or via phone to really get their voice, their concerns, their passions, their frustrations? (See point 1 above.)
Have you intentionally crafted a sequenced experience to bring them into your funnel and start to regularly do business with your company?
As any direct marketer worth her salt will tell you, the value of your "house list" comes by gathering information about them, and giving them a strategically mapped out experience to get them to buy.
Two more components that direct marketers have created to maximize the value of their house lists are "frequency of contact" (all things being equal, the more you are in communication with your house list in interesting and valuable ways the more they will buy from you) and "list segmentation" (breaking your house list into smaller slivers so you can more powerfully speak to each subcomponent of your house list.)
6. Understand and measure your clients "LTV".
I saved the best for last. By far the most important lesson that a successful direct marketer has to teach you and any other business leader is the how to understand, measure, and optimize the Life Time Value (LTV) of your customers.
How can you know what you can spend to acquire a new client if you don't know what they will spend with your company - on average - over their relationship with you?
How can you test and work to scientifically increase the total your average customer spends with you if you don't measure and track their actual buying?
So there you have the six most important direct response marketing secrets that you must at least be aware of.
Pick one of the above ideas and one simple action step you will take to apply that idea to grow your business. Now get to work.
If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.