Apologies if this graphic is ‘too big’, but the key point behind today’s post deserves it!

The 7 Steps Have Been Updated!
Yesterday, I mentioned that the book: Duct Tape Marketing (the worlds most practical small business marketing guide) has been changed to reflect the evolution of marketing as a ‘mission critical’ business function.

There’s been a shift away from marketing that interrupts and toward marketing that attracts.  Some refer to this as ‘inbound vs. outbound’ marketing or ‘prospect-initiated’ vs. ‘seller-initiated’ marketing.  Why?  In a word, “Google”.  As Wayne Gretsky once said, “I go to where the puck is going to be . . . not where is is now”.  Similarly, marketers want to be found by prospects when they (prospects) are ready to buy (or, are seriously looking for information to help them do so in the fairly near future).

STEP 1:  Strategy Before Tactics
The ‘old’ Step 1  was “Narrow Your Focus”.  The idea behind that is still sound — find your ‘ideal client / market / niche’ and go for it.  The idea was that by not seeking to be all things to all people, you’d stand out or differentiate yourself to the people you most want as clients.

The ‘new’ Step 1 is “Strategy Before Tactics’.  Now, in addition to defining your Ideal Client and market, you also want to be really clear about why your firm would be seen — by your Ideal Client — as a ‘preferred provider’ of your problem-solving expertise.  We call that ‘differentiation’ and part of that is clarifying your ‘Message’ so you’ll stand out to your Ideal Client.

As the above graphic shows, this combination of aligning both your Mission / Message with your Market is the basis of your Strategy.

Strategy is the FILTER for Your Possible Tactics
Once you have a laser-tight clarity about:

1.  WHO you want to attract / sell and
2.  WHY / HOW you can stand out to your Ideal Client

you have found your Strategy!

Tactics Without Strategy . . . Is a Problem . . . for You
Using any Tactic without the benefit of a coherent Strategy, is like trying to build a house without a blueprint.  Your workers may show up and they can hammer wood and nails all day long but . . . in the end, it may not look like what you want nor will it serve the purpose you had in mind.

It’s easy to just pick a(ny) tactic . . . and ‘go to town’ with it. Business people do it every day!  But without a strategy to help you decide if it will support your long-term business goals, you may be spending more time and money than you like and getting less ROI for that than you want.  (Ouch!)

Your Marketing Strategy . . . Helps You Decide What’s Relevant
. . . and, what is not.  Once you have your Strategy defined, USE IT — as a filter to see which marketing tactics will ALIGN with your goals and SUPPORT you in achieving the success in your business you desire.

If any tactic — and they’re all intrinsically good at some level — is going to support you and your success, then you should consider using it.  If it won’t, don’t. Simple.

KEY POINT:
Effective marketing reflects an ALIGNMENT of the DECISIONS you make (Strategy — WHO / WHY) and the ACTIONS you take (Tactics — WHAT / WHEN / WHERE / HOW) to market your services.  And THAT . . . is why we say, “Strategy BEFORE Tactics” at Duct Tape Marketing.  

Tomorrow, another change in the 7 Steps . . . and, why!

“What do I / we do BETTER than anyone else?”

This question is designed to help you learn what your Ideal Client considers your COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE or, as some like to say, your ‘Unique Value Proposition’ . . . the factor that makes you DISTINCTIVE and BETTER to work with than your alleged competitors.

This question belongs on every client survey!

So often the responses your clients give are rarely what you might cite as the factors that makes you distinctive and valuable to your clients.

It’s difficult to see yourself as others see you.  But knowing what makes you ‘stand out’ to the kind of client you seek to attract is marketing TNT!

The insight this question produces often reveals a significant key to your competitive edge . . . in terms that the people you want to attract would actually use to describe you.

KEY POINT:
Learn what makes you STAND OUT . . . as your Ideal Client understands it!

“Why do you see me / my firm as the BEST OPTION?”

The first question was focused on the factor/s that prompts a qualified prospect to understand why they need something you do or offer.

This question is designed to help you learn what it is about you that makes an Ideal Client perceive you as the best source of the solution they’re seeking.  In other words, why do Ideal Clients perceive you to be a Preferred Provider of the solution they’re seeking?

The first question dealt with a MACRO issue . . . what’s the problem or PAIN that makes your kind of service relevant or desired?

This question deals with a MICRO issue . . . what is it about you / your firm that, all things being equal, makes you appear (everything is perception, right?) to be the BEST OPTION to get the solution they want?

Again, knowing what makes you STAND OUT to the kind of people you want to attract (at your competitors’ expense, of course) will help you attract the attention of and response from people who can best understand, value and desire the beneficial difference you can provide with your problem-solving expertise and services.

This question . . . is all about you . . . it’s all about what tells an Ideal Client that YOU . . . are the best provider of the solution someone wants.

KEY POINT:
Learn what makes you BETTER than your competitors . . . as your Ideal Client sees it!

“I don’t know” isn’t the end of the world
When I was starting out in business, I was reluctant to tell a prospect, “I don’t know” when I was asked a question about how taxes, policy provisions or  business law would affect them.

As I ‘matured’ in my career, I learned to get real — real comfortable admitting, “I don’t know” to many of the questions I was being asked.

Be ‘OK’ being ‘Not-OK’
Social psychologists have proven over and over again that your ability to openly acknowledge that you are NOT perfect . . . that you don’t have all the answers . . . actually makes you more attractive to a prospective client.

Seek to demonstrate . . . “Credible Candor”
The fact is . . . your ‘trustworthiness’ factor goes up whenever you exhibit what I call, “Credible Candor”.  This means you say, when it’s true, “I don’t know”.  This makes you more ‘real’ (i.e. less ‘plastic’) and, therefore highly attractive to prospects.  Just be sure you add something like, “. . . but I’ll make sure I find out for you!”.

What you DO is more telling than anything you might SAY to a prospect or client.  Behavior that reveals you’re not perfect in every way – makes you seem  even more perfect to others.

KEY POINT:
Be Human . . . you’ll reveal your imperfections . . . and become more attractive 

 

“Let’s Shake On It, Then!”
Businesspeople make promises to their clients.  It’s what we do.  Unfortunately, the expectation of many (most?) clients is that a promise is likely to be broken.

You Need a SYSTEM
If your reputation for ‘keeping your word’ . . . or, promises . . . is so important but it seems to be the exception (not the rule) that businesspeople will break more than they make . . . you have to ask, “Why?”.  The answer is not that they meant to break their promise, but that they don’t have a system in place to make sure they keep them!

Make a Promise . . . “Write a Check”
If you’re in a service business . . . where the client’s buying your ability to ‘come through’ as you promise (and, your client expects) then you need a deliberate way to ensure that happens . . . consistently.  My suggestion?  “Write a check”.  Literally.  Not on your bank.  On your time!  Think of a ‘check’ as a written evidence of your commitment to your client’s happiness . . . with you.

When you make a promise . . . WRITE A CHECK to demonstrate your commitment to ‘cash it’ with your customer or client.  Here’s an example:

Is this SCARY?  You bet it is!  Especially if you’re not committed to deliver.  This is a huge ACCOUNTABILITY tool.  But, if you’re as good as you say you are, it’s a NO BRAINER, isn’t it? Actually, it’s going to help you to DIFFERENTIATE yourself and your practice!

NOTE:  If you’d like my Special Report on how to set up a ‘Promise Checkbook System’ . . . shoot me an email and I’ll send it right back!

KEY POINT:
You make promises every day . . . give people evidence of your commitment and watch your competition shake in their boots! 

Amazon’s new Kindle ‘Fire’ — is a brilliant marketing decision
Sure, the pricing is absurd.  Absurdly good.  For consumers.  Some believe Amazon’s losing money on every tablet they sell.  So the brilliance isn’t because of the extremely good price.

Kindle is playing on its strengths, not competing on its weaknesses
The tablet computer market is crowded.  Over-crowded.  So another tablet is not a smart idea.  Neither is creating an alternative to Apple’s iPad.  Kindle Fire makes neither mistake.

Kindle Fire is both unique AND beneficial
Kindle’s Fire is different and better than Android tablets that are both supported — and limited by — Google.  Amazon’s Kindle Fire is supported by Amazon’s version of Android and its own content — a far more extensive resource.  Also, Kindle is not seeking to woo a wide market like Apple is doing with the iPad.  Instead, Amazon is targeting its significant base of loyal Amazon customers who are seeking a convenient way to access Amazon’s content.

The Kindle Fire is also not as elegant as an iPad.  It doesn’t have to be.  it just has to provide access to Amazon’s extensive content.  Just as when Coca-Cola gave it’s vending machines away for free — because Coke™ made its money by refilling their machines. Brilliant!

KEY POINT:
“Never bring a knife to a gunfight” — Amazon is defining it’s own ‘Fire’ power and will likely be a winner because of it. 


I’ve recently found a very cool site — fab.com. Fab is the brainchild of Jason Goldberg. I posted about him earlier in the week.

 

Clarity of Vision = Focus = Power
In marketing, it’s important to know what you stand for . . . as it helps you to stand out by standing up for something specific. Jason, as CEO and Founder of FAB.com has done this beautifully, IMHO.

FAB’s Focus . . . Design and Customer Experience
As you read the ‘Mission Statement’, it’s pretty clear that two terms come clearly to mind . . . DESIGN and CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.  This tight focus makes it easy for FAB’s management to make decisions — decisions that align with the audience of people who are FAB’s target market — people who appreciate both outstanding design as well as a good bargain.

KEY POINT:
Mission . . . drives how you operate and how you’re perceived by your target market

A recent post on LinkedIn prompted me to reply.  The question was prompted by a company asking, “How can I compete with the ‘Big Boys’ in my business?”  The business in question is ‘home remodeling’ and yes, there are all kinds of players in that field — from newbies to seasoned pros who’ve been in ‘the biz’ since they were born (or, so it seems!)

ASK . . . And Ye Shall Receive (Great Marketing Insight!)
I suggested the person survey his clients and learn what his ‘ideal client’ wants from a remodeler and then use those insights to make sure he’s operating in such a way that he’s seen as ‘more’ attractive on those qualities than his competitors — big or small.

A Practical Example of Managing Impressions to Cement Perceptions
One of my clients, a siding and windows company learned (by surveying his clients) that ‘appearances’ affect which firm a prospect is likely to hire. As a result, he pays for his crews to have a clean uniform and a truck wash EVERY day! Why?

Because it’s what his target market members want from a firm they’ll hire to replace their siding and windows. When this firm does work in someone’s home, they also wear surgical booties over their shoes, too. Why? They are managing the IMPRESSIONS they make on a client. That helps the client form a PERCEPTION about the firm that, “All things being equal, THIS firm is ‘better”. Seems to be working as his market share has been growing . . . at the expense of other firms in the same geographical area and business.

KEY POINT:
Manage the EXPERIENCE . . . Cement the PERCEPTION . . . Beat the COMPETITION!

I’m not suggesting you get moody and depressing.  I’m referring to your marketing messages.

Preservation Beats Acquisition
Keeping what we have is more motivating than acquiring what we want but do not have. You know it’s true.

We work harder to maintain what we have — especially if we feel it’s being threatened than we ever do to generate a result that’s better than what we have now.  Go figure.

Why ‘Going Negative’ . . . Works
We’re genetically and psychologically programmed to scan for threats to our well-being. That’s why negative messages that alert us to any possible threats always get our attention.

Remember to Relieve!
Getting attention with a negative or threat-based message makes people uncomfortable. Actually, that’s good.  You can leverage that to produce a response from prospects designed to relieve their discomfort.  But if you make someone uncomfortable, you have a moral imperative to make them feel good again, too.  That’s where your offer comes in . . .

KEY POINT:
Negative messages . . . work! 

We took a break yesterday from this theme of ways to use LinkedIn.  Now, it’s back to work!  ‘-)

An Example Worth Noting
The other day I mentioned that sharing your expertise on LinkedIn, by answering questions posed by other members, helps your VCR (visibility, credibility and reputation).  While looking at some questions on ‘marketing’ (my area — you look in yours!) I found a truly ‘killer’ response to a question on whether management consulting and internet marketing were mutually exclusive or, not.

In fact, I liked his answer so much that I ‘tracked down’ the person who posted it — a Carl Diamond who owns Diamond Website Conversion — a firm from the Seattle, WA area:

I then sent him a short note of appreciation acknowledging the superb quality of his answer.  Well, before the day was over, Carl had replied to me and we had become part of each other’s LinkedIn network.  More importantly, the foundation was laid for a possible future collaboration between us.

Will that ever happen?  Who knows.  But I do know this — if we never connected, the chance for something coming from this day would have been 0% — GUARANTEED!

KEY POINT:
Social networking is about planting seeds of opportunity . . . then nurturing those opportunities until they blossom!