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Back to Basics: Part II

Last week we started talking about the importance of getting back to the real basics of marketing--of not letting new tech blur our product vision. Today , as promised, we continue the exploration of the basics with Part II...

Proper Messaging

So now you know that your product works for your customer. You have a brand that appeals to that customer. Are you using the language of your customer? I am not simply suggesting have bilingual labels if you’re selling in Canada or diverse neighborhoods (although you’d better!), but are you using language used by your audience. Would a brand for teens incorporate ‘text’ language acronyms (ones we old-folk may know would be LOL, PIR, or OMG) or would they have proper grammar and that third comma (the oxford comma)? Now, how would that message be written differently if it was written for a business owner in a major metro area? If it were for an athlete? What visuals would you show for each?

Let’s pretend we’re selling a royal blue, insulated water bottle.

For teens, maybe that bottle is laying in the grass on its side in front of a picture of attractive, diverse teens laughing over something on their smart phones. The caption may read, “Keeps your water cool while you chill.”

For the business person, that same bottle might be shown in the front console of a luxury sedan. We see it close up and only see the hands of the driver on the wheel. Perhaps we see a traffic jam outside the windshield. The copy may read, “Refresh. Rehydrate. Re-energize. You never know what the day will bring.”

Athlete: the bottle is being handed off to a runner mid marathon from their sideline support team. Copy would say “Support your body. Support your dream.”

Each message shows the bottle. But each message is clearly written for a different audience. Is your message on target for your customer or client?

Marketing Mix

Let’s use the same campaign we started above. You are selling water bottles to metro-area business people. Are you going to place your ad on a billboard on a busy highway where their daily traffic jam occurs or are you going to put it on YouTube running before the trailer of an upcoming horror flick? If you’re selling to the athlete, are you going to buy keywords on search engines like “keto diet” and “spin cycle” or are you going to run an ad in the local yellow pages. (And yes, some people should still be in the yellow pages!)

Where you place your messages and on what channels (not ABC, NBC, or FOX—but online, outdoor, social media or print, for example) is all about your marketing mix. You want to optimize the ideal placement strategy for your specific customer. Where to do they shop and live? What do they read? How do they spend their time? This is what you should care about. What you shouldn’t do is just say ‘yes’ to any person that walks in your door (or email inbox) and makes suggestions to you.

Can you afford it?

Finally, what is your budget? Don’t be embarrassed or shy. If it is small, that just means we need to prioritize. We may have a to-do list that is a mile long, but your budget supports a third of it. That means we need to tell you which of those three items will be most effective and why. As your business improves from your wise marketing decisions, then you move on with items four through four thousand.

If your budget feels too large to you, why is that? Believe it or not, this is an almost larger problem. When you hear that that average consumer goods item is 20-50% of revenue, why does spending 15% make you nervous?

It is true that there is no magic number for the ‘right’ percent of revenue that should be devoted to marketing, but there are determining factors that can help you narrow it down. Are you a new product? Are you in growth mode? Are you a consumer-based product? Are you business to business to business? Will your product last for 15 years or is it a fad that will be around for three?

Ten percent is a good base number to use when you first begin analyzing your marketing spend. But if you’re in construction, the financial sector, or healthcare—maybe three percent is more in line. Are you a tech company? Double that figure to 20%.

If you have been burned in the past by improper marketing spends, by agencies or in-house departments that misappropriated your funds, we understand your resistance. But the reality is that marketing is an expense. You do need to agree to spend funds to get the value from your marketing plan. Whether you are spending it on an inside marketing department or an external consultant, or a combination, that total spend should also include the actual production costs and media buys. The best designer or copywriter in the world won’t help if you won’t take that work and print it, post it, boost it, or place it.

But don’t let percentages or dollar volumes stop you. If you have no idea of what you should be spending or where, but you know you need to do something—do it. Call a marketing consultant or strategist. Clearly I recommend calling BRANDED, but make a call.

Hiring an expert doesn’t have to be expensive. It shouldn’t be difficult. And it should not leave you feeling confused or unable to support your decision to your partners, spouse or team. If you can’t explain, in simple terms, what your marketing pro is going to do for you—then you don’t understand what they are doing. They may have done that on purpose. Ask questions, understand their suggestions, and ask around.

Marketing is a small world. BRANDED serves the Southeastern/Northeastern Wisconsin/Illinois border area. We can point to multiple businesses in this region that have worked with us. We can give you contact information for you to call our clients and talk to them if you choose. Or, you can ask around to your marketing friends in this area—chances are—like in the game of 7 degrees of separation—they have worked with someone who has worked with us and you can talk to those third parties.

And finally, start slow. We like to say that marketing isn’t a marriage—it is a project.

Pick a project, call a marketer, take a chance. If they work well for you, call them again. Make that project turn into a relationship. But don’t feel forced. Remember, working with a consultant should serve your agenda, your budget, and your needs—not only theirs.

The pros at BRANDED are here for you for that first project. Reach out today and let’s see how we can help your business get to the next level. Whether we’re starting with the basics or jumping right into your well-run team of in-house pros and just assisting with a project or two, we would be eager to hear your story. or 262-903-8535.

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