What really drives sales? Eisenhower once said: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”
His inference was that — in his case planning for war — when war starts, most plans often go out the window pretty fast — but going into battle without a plan at all was not an option.
Ok, so you’re not in charge of liberating a continent I’m sure, but your business needs a serious marketing communications plan — one that can also adapt when ‘war’ breaks out.
So let’s start out by assessing the first aim of your new battle plan:
“Improve what you serve and how you serve it.”
More often than not, your customers follow a “journey” of awareness, from a point where they haven’t even acknowledged they have a problem or need, to deciding whether your service is right for them.
See, when I first tip-toe into your world — laden with doubts and concerns — I need to be reassured that I’m in the right place — that this, a place I could call home.
And one way to do that is to articulate and define what it is that I — the client — want — the thing that brought me here.
What I want most?
What I want to avoid most?
What I like.
What I don't like.
What I believe in.
What I don’t believe in.
Why it matters.
Therefore, the more education you do, the better.
Becoming a trusted source of useful information and challenging beliefs allows you to cast a much wider net, as your content can be appealing not just to people already seeking goods or services but also to people seeking information on topics of importance to them.
Your goal is to erase the top-down distinction and distance between your brand and customer over time.
The end goal is for the customer to feel part of your brand, even though they are serving themselves with the services that they had a hand in shaping.
And here’s why you’d use it:
- People have a “subconscious attraction” to leaders and authorities.
- When you educate, the brain automatically assumes authority.
- If you want to make it to the top, you must become a leader with value to offer others, and proactively convey those qualities in your marketing efforts.
- Sincerity sells, so if you become genuinely interested in your prospects’ success they will do the same for you.
That’s the 4 golden rules to generate real demand for your expertise.
In short: Catch their eye with value ..
Not in a cloying, superficial and superfluous way, but in a valuable, informative, helpful way.
And the biggest secret behind those rules hasn’t changed either:
Make Your Marketing Truly Valuable.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it*.Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)
The more you know about your market, the more effectively you can leverage these aspirational desires in your marketing campaigns.
We all know this of course.
When you come across something special that knocks you off your feet, when you recognise a real bona fide authority, your respect for it as a resource doesn’t end there.
Respect is the bedrock of trust — a rare commodity these days.
With respect and trust in place, next comes a sense of obligation to share the treasure with others ..
I know, it’s an ego thing: we want other people to ‘like’ us for sharing the really good stuff.
Your marketing funnel's purpose is engaging people long enough for all this conversion magic to happen.
And to get this conversion process magic to work, you need to be there.
Watching. Measuring. Analyzing and Refining every interaction.
If your headline doesn’t pull a prospect to become a reader of the content, then it has failed you and your potential customer.
If your content doesn’t lure users into reading the sales copy, then once again you’ve failed.
You see where I’m going here but even if your copy does convert people from visitors to readers, and readers into customers, you’ve still got work to do with ensuring they cross the finish line as fully paid up brand evangelists.
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.David Ogilvy
But your noble strategic ambitions need the tactical nitty-gritty too.
You have to know and be ready to refine your pitch as you enter the trenches.
Which in turn means finding out which piece of content performs best.
You have to know who your influencer allies are and how to collaborate with them to promote your business.
You need a conversion funnel to win —and process — the business.
And you need the right kind of battle-tested marketing automation to maximise the amount of targeted leads you’re getting, laser-targeted personalisation to make you much more relevant, SAS SEO, benchmarking and a whole lot more besides.
In short, planning is a blueprint for action — and reaction.
In other words:
“Keep improving what you serve and how you serve it.”
Empower people with the information they need to make smart decisions.
Before they do business with you.
While they’re doing business with you.
And after they’ve done business with you.
So long as you focus on the “customer experience” first, not your big pipe dream, you will get it right.
So long as you help your audience with some small wins so they can see the bonus of a big investment in your big picture, you’ll also get it right together.
Therefore, start doing your homework and start disseminating that homework in a way that educates them on the benefits of solving their problem — simultaneously trusting your ‘educational’ brand to be the one to do it.
But: This is still just your jumping off point.
We learn much, much more about customer behaviour after launch than at any other stage.
How potential customers behave thereafter is vital to making the necessary content adjustments.
Understanding the good stuff from the God awful ..
Refining your competitive advantage.
Knowing exactly what you’re trying to accomplish.
Knowing exactly what they’re trying to accomplish.
Seeing how this impacts your marketing goals.
But what you might not know is this:
“SMART marketing goals” take this entire process one step further.
Adding invaluable success criteria.
A clear trajectory.
And priceless idea validation.
- Specific — What do we want to accomplish?
- Measurable — How will we know it is accomplished?
- Attainable — Is this goal realistic?
- Relevant — Does it match our business needs?
- Timely — When will this goal be accomplished?
As Harvey V. Fineberg summed it up eloquently:
Evolution does not necessarily favour the longest-lived … Evolution favours those creatures best adapted to their environment.
To sum up;
Doing what everyone is doing is fine if you want to accept a 3% hit rate.
But to break out of this tough and expensive rat race, start doing your homework and start disseminating that homework to the 97% in a way that educates them on the benefits of solving their problem — simultaneously trusting your ‘educational’ brand to be the one to do it.