My husband hates marketing. He thinks that it’s generally hype and BS, cynically calculated to manipulate you into acting, vs. an honest communication of value.
He’s not completely wrong. Most of us are pretty skeptical about the marketing messages we’re subjected to in the media, because so much marketing focuses on convincing us that product X is the answer to all our prayers (think Ginzu knives or Sham-wow), or on trying to terrify us into buying product Y in order to avoid some horrible consequence (home security systems and life insurance tend to rely on this approach).
But there’s another side to all of this. Many of my clients are well-intentioned, high-integrity branding and marketing folks who are honestly trying to figure out how to let people know, in a compelling way, that they have something great to offer. And my colleagues and I spend a good deal of time thinking and talking about how to communicate Proteus’ value in a way that’s both meaningful and true.
From over 25 years of experience in marketing, copywriting, conversions and online business, I can easily tell you that one of the most difficult tasks for people when it comes to marketing is defining their differences. In fact, at Marketing Words, we have a questionnaire all new clients are asked to complete. Among others, it contains the question, “What is the single most important unique competitive advantage (UCA) you offer?” What answer do we see above all others?
It is left blank.
Or a question mark is inserted in the space.
That’s because the quest to analyze how you are different or better than the competition is a mind-numbing process for most people. Coming up with a short, impactful phrase that immediately lets others know what their strengths are and how they outperform the competition is like digging a ditch with a teaspoon.
Our client, Megan Hyman, opened her dog daycare, grooming and boarding facility in 2013. She took a huge bet on herself in which she wagered an inheritance to pursue her desire for a new future. Nearly two years in, she’s winning, but not without some serious challenges that we went through together.
In this video she discusses the difficulty of finding the right location and how she got out of her own way to fill her business with enthusiastic clients.
Why did Google GOOG whip Yahoo! YHOO so decisively? How did Apple AAPL become the world’s most valuable company? Why have we all heard of Intel INTC? The answer is simple. Or, to be more precise, simplicity.
The ability to distill highly complex business concepts into simple consumer propositions is one reason why Google, Apple, and Intel are three of the most valuable brands in the world. Google’s breakthrough insight was to make everything about its brand and user experience clean and simple, unlike Yahoo and other search engine companies that thought a busier page somehow communicated more value. Apple rejected complexity in everything from its operating system to product design to advertising. And Intel created a five-note musical signature and two-word catchphrase to make us all believe that a computer was better if it had “Intel Inside.”
B2B lead generation seems to be a mystery to many marketers. Just do a search on the topic and you’ll find little that’s helpful.
In my opinion, there are two reasons for this. One – people are searching for that one killer lead tactic that will mask all ills or, Two – people fail to realize that successful B2B lead generation is made up of activities that are by nature very hard to quantify and pin down.
The latter then leads to plenty of articles spouting the virtues of practices such as inbound marketing and content marketing, but little hard advice on how to make any of it pay.
Here’s my take – the real problem lies in the fact that you don’t simply generate a lead today, you guide it.
You can no longer run an ad that say’s “hey, we’ve got what you’re looking for come and get it” and expect much. Once a prospect actually knows what they are looking for, they’re already looking for a price.
Are you doing the bare minimum when it comes to your small business website? Just having a website is no longer enough if it ever was. You’ve got to take action to get potential customers to discover, engage with and buy from your business. And that means creating an integrated online marketing plan where all parts of your Web presence work together.
Deluxe Corporation recently polled small business owners to find out what they’re doing online. Here’s some of what they found:
Small business owners say word-of-mouth is their most important way of engaging with customers 73 percent. However, they don’t seem to realize that social media has become a crucial part of word-of-mouth. Just 21 percent say social media is an important way to engage with customers; in comparison, 40 percent say business cards are.
What about websites? While two-thirds of small business owners have a business website, that number is still way too small. As I mentioned earlier, having a website is the bare minimum these days. Small business owners are also falling short in what features they have on their website. Fewer than half have photos or videos; just 32 percent use search engine optimization SEO, and only 28 percent have reviews or social media share/follow buttons.