Many of us think of ourselves as Creative, as Designers, as Artistic. And yet we fail to apply these traits to our marketing process. We tend to play it safe–practicing the tried and true “me too” marketing strategies that others have used. Fearing to tread where others have not. But extraordinary marketing results are rarely achieved by playing it safe.
If you look at the front-runners in any industry, you’ll see that their marketing ideas are definitely not ordinary. All of their individual marketing ideas may not be as successful as they had hoped, but long-term, their brand is created and they thrive. Look at Coke as an example. They’ve been creative with all kinds of new slogans, new products, and new campaigns. Many have fizzled. But their market share in their industry remains strong.
Like this sunset, which I photographed last fall, extraordinary marketing isn’t an everyday occurance. It is rare, but when it occurs, it can be dynamic.
The Keyword is Strategy!
There are several ingredients to an effective extraordinary marketing strategy. And the keyword is strategy. A revamped website or logo or even a great new tagline may be very original but you have to create a plan to make your customers or website visitors sit up and take notice. Effective marketing doesn’t have to have a huge budget. Guerrilla marketing can be creative and use unconventional methods of promotion. As a small business, you can be more agile than the bigger companies and you have a greater ability to create personal relationships with your customers.
But the core of that strategy must be a promise to deliver a specific benefit to your customers. A benefit that can’t be claimed by your competitors. It takes time and effort to understand what your customers want and need most from your business and to then exceed those expectations. But a successful marketing strategy depends on it.
The company that jumps into the field with a unique new product may blossom and bloom for awhile but with nothing more than a product, the bloom gradually fades and disappears. Remember the hula hoop? The pet rock? And all the other unique new products?
Improvisation is essential. Those who excel at marketing focus on their core benefits while finding new ways to sell what their customers want to buy. They frequently offer several layers of products which will meet the changing needs of their customers. As an example, in today’s market, many are looking for ways to say “I’m thinking of you” on a budget. The marketer, who is on top of his/her customer’s needs, will add a layer of less expensive products to the larger more elaborate gift baskets that sold easily during the boom years.
Know Your Marketplace
The marketplace is constantly changing. In the 17 years that I’ve been in this industry, I’ve seen many, many businesses begin with a shout and then die with barely a whisper. There are always new competitiors entering the fray with unique, compelling products and benefits. Once again, successful marketers know what to change, when to change, and what to hang on to and continue to develop. Basically what I am saying is that it’s essential to develop and stick with a core message or benefit while improvising to meet the changing needs of your customers, the economy, and the general marketplace.
Long-term loyalty comes from shared values and your ability to create a marketing process that reflects those values. Customers want change but not in what you stand for. They want to see you and your company as one that they can depend on to be there when they need you and to provide the benefits that you promise.
Marketing is a continuous process. There is no start nor no end. A failure to keep your business in front of your customers on a regular basis usually means that they forget all about you. A good question to ask yourself at the end of each day is “What did you do to market yourself today?”