Spring 2020

MARKETING by Jill Soley I s your marketing falling flat? Prospects aren’t paying attention? Are you wondering why and what you should do? Look up right now from this magazine, cup your hands around your mouth and yell “My product is great! Buy it!” Did anyone pay any attention? Did they show interest? That is probably what your marketing sounds like to anyone listening, and also why it fails. Many companies mistakenly think of marketing as a megaphone—talking at consumers, saying what they want buyers to hear. This approach may have worked in Don Draper’s Mad Men era but it doesn’t work today. Customers have a lot more savvy and power in the buying relationship today than they did even 20 years ago. Miss their expectations, anger them, and they’ll retaliate online, sharing their horror stories on Yelp, Twitter or anywhere people will listen. The key to marketing success today is the word “relationship.” Think of your customers as your friends or significant others. How do you build and nurture those personal relationships? Relationships with your customers have the same ingredients: 1. Listen, Really Listen Have you ever dated someone who seemed to be just waiting for you to finish so they could talk? They never seemed to really hear you. That may be you. How well do you truly know your customer? Can you fill an entire page with the information you know about them? The biggest mistake most companies make is they focus on what they want to communicate, rather than what the customer needs to hear. Before you write any marketing copy, listen to your customer. Listening may take the form of customer interviews, surveys, or simply talking to your customer when they are purchasing. Who are they? What do they care about? What are their problems? What words do they use to describe their needs? Where do they spend their time? What do they read or watch? This information will help you understand what to say and how and where to say it to reach your customer. It will also help you make sure your offerings actually meet their needs. 2. Speak Authentically Have you ever gone out with someone who pretended to be someone they are not? How’d that go? According to eharmony, 53% of people lie on their dating profile! If you claim your product is reliable but it quickly breaks or you call it “luxury” but use cheap material, your marketing will fall flat. Know what value you can truly provide and be honest about it. Be clear on what your company actually stands for. Then you can set appropriate expectations about the benefits your customers will get from your product. Expectation misses are what tend to anger customers. The upshot: don’t claim anything that a customer wouldn’t acknowledge as true. A common mistake when it comes to authenticity is wanting to reach a broader market. But, if your product is really a fit for a specific segment of the market, focus on what you can truly do to benefit those customers and make them happy. A smaller segment of customers who are happy loyal advocates will take your business far as they sing your praises to others. It is much easier to grow your business from a strong loyal base of advocates than from bad reviews. 3. Be Responsive The “three-day rule” for waiting to call or text after a date has long since been proven nonsense. It doesn’t enamor dates or customers. According to Hubspot, 85% of customers expect a response from companies within six hours on Facebook. On Twitter, 64% of customers expect a response within one hour. Even if your messaging is authentic, a one-way conversation isn’t enough. If your customers are online, and they Marketing is a Two-Way Conversation, Listen First 52 enterprising Women