Facebook is constantly changing its algorithms (keeping business owners like you and me on our toes). The same goes for Google.
When you look at things from a broader perspective, however, some fundamentals of marketing have withstood the test of time.
The technologies might change, but these four golden rules of marketing will always stay the same.
1. Your customers' actions speak louder than their words.
Have you ever experienced this? You survey your customers to ask whether they'd buy a new product. The response is positive, and you launch the product, only to have it fail spectacularly. While that's super frustrating (and has happened to me as well), the key is that your customers' actions speak louder than their words. At the end of the day, the one thing that counts is if they take out their wallets --- or not.
Instead of asking your customers whether they'd buy, get them to buy on the spot. For example, you could simply tell them a story about what you do and then offer them a product or service at a certain price. If they don't pay, you still don't know how to sell to your customers. And, you can probe further to understand what's stopping them. This tip comes most in handy when you're launching a new product or service.
2. Forget about informing your customers, be smart about it.
Yes, your product or service has a ton of benefits, but that doesn't mean that you need to go on and on about each and every one of them.
Simply listing all the features of your product or service is an amateur marketing mistake. Instead, sell people on how you can solve their problem, especially a painful one.
For example, at A1 Garage, we pride ourselves on the high-quality materials that our garage doors are made of. But, rather than talking just about that, we focus on selling how garage doors provide security (which is what our customers are actually concerned about).
Here's another example: back in 2001, iPod struck gold with the slogan "1000 songs in your pocket". Why? People were fed up with carrying a heavy Walkman around. They could have simply said "5GB worth of space to store your songs" - but this definitely wouldn't have been as effective. So think about how you can talk to your customer in a way that makes them feel like "wow, this product or service is what I need."
3. Do marketing that defines who you are.
Many marketers and business owners stick to "safe" marketing - either because they want to portray a professional image, or they're afraid of trying different things.What they're forgetting is that unless you take a risk with marketing and do something different, you risk getting forgotten along with the thousands of ads we see each day.
Want to cut through the noise? Do marketing that defines who you are without holding anything back. Offend some people, even (as long as you don't do something stupid and burn down the house.) This can range from big bold billboard ads to having a witty, slightly snarky FAQ page on your website (instead of a boring, corporate-sounding one).
If you want to rethink your marketing strategies, start by writing down the values your business stands for.Then, look at your current marketing, and tweak things accordingly to make sure your marketing reflect those values.
4. Get your customers to be your army of marketers.
Rather than simply marketing with your company's resources, why not tap into your customer base and build up an arsenal of "marketers" through them? For small companies, word-of-mouth can make or break their business. Even for larger firms, it pays to engage your customers regularly, so that you can keep them around, instead of having to constantly acquire new customers.
With A1 Garage, we regularly check in with our customers by sending them surveys to learn more about the experiences that they've had with our products and services. For those who respond positively, we contact them to request a review; for those who respond negatively, we take the chance to resolve any issues that they have.
Try this for yourself - this strategy helped us amass hundreds of 5-star reviews on Yelp, Google and Angie's List, and it can do the same for you. Other than posting on traditional review sites, you can also encourage your customers to share feel-good stories about your business through other social media channels.
Follow the fundamentals
While marketing channels will continue evolving, always remember to focus on the basics, that is, these four golden rules of marketing. By using these tried and tested principles of marketing, and also trying out the newest marketing techniques, your marketing strategy will be foolproof.