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- Marketing 101: Develop a powerful and compelling core message.
“Say something, say it well, say it often.”? Why should customers buy from you? Why should they even take a second glance? You need to build a powerful message that gets key points across without clutter … because clutter is what leads to abandonment. Although this is the essence of a successful branding and marketing campaign, you’d be surprised how many companies fail to grasp this concept.
- Make sure your core message is “benefit oriented.”?
People don’t buy services or products, they buy the benefits of those services or products. In all your communications, make sure your message translates into specific benefits.
- Make sure your initial message directs prospects toward a specific action.
Your customers want to be told where to go to find the solutions they seek. This should be abundantly clear to all four major personality groups (Amiables, Drivers, Expressives, and Analyticals). When you invite customers to go somewhere to learn how to interact with your site and find out more about your company, you can greatly increase your potential for conversions.
- Develop imagery that enhances your message and intrigues your target audience.
The images on your site should enhance your message by being visually stimulating. Sometimes this may only be an aesthetic; other times it may involve “timelining”? imagery and content together to use space more effectively and get across a message in a more distinctive fashion.
- Develop a unique value proposition (UVP).
Sit down with a branding or marketing expert and define a UVP for your company as a reminder of your competitive advantages. Make sure these advantages are customer-centric, not business-centric.
- Incorporate your UVP into all online and off-line media for brand consistency and saturation.
Make sure your message constantly reiterates your competitive benefits and your UVP. You never know which aspect of your brand a prospect might respond to, so make sure the message is consistently broadcast in whatever media you use.
- Tell customers what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them.
We call this inside-out marketing. Too often, companies unknowingly focus on what they want to say, rather than what customers want to hear. An outside-in perspective with a true 360° view of your company from the customer’s viewpoint is best accomplished with the help of a qualified branding and marketing firm that can determine customers’ attitudes, expectations, and requirements.
- Build value … not boredom.
I leave this one to Napoleon Hill: “It is as useless to try to sell a man something until you have first made him want to listen as it would be to command the earth to stop rotating”? (Think and Grow Rich
- Lead with a header and close with a call to action.
Readers are much more likely to read your message, white papers, case studies, etc., if you pique their interest or curiosity through well-written headers, transition headers, body content, and calls to action that lead to the next step in a sales cycle. Visit www.imageworksstudio.com for details on building a sales-generating brand.
- “SCAN I AM.”?
Today’s readers don’t read, they scan. They scan for areas of interest, offers, links to relevant information, etc. So it is important to set up your text so that it can be quickly scanned. Online text is not linear like a book; it’s interactive to follow users’ nonlinear demands.
- Develop a branding “blueprint”? that …
shows clearly how you expect prospects to interact with your messages. This blueprint should start with an outline and show all paths from all forms of communication and how they lead to firm sales. Again, marketing and branding professionals can help develop a plan.
- Evaluate your plan. Have others evaluate your plan. Re-evaluate and adjust.
No plan is perfect, and any plan should be constantly adjusted to maximize its effectiveness. It is critical to continually audit your branding plan and all your marketing media.
- Re-evaluate again.
- Adjust your blueprint …
to adapt to the market, trends, technologies, customer demands, etc. Review quarterly. Every successful brand in the world is optimized regularly. Branding is an ongoing effort, not a one-time occurrence.
- Use measurable tools to track prospect response.
Use online forms and phone logs to track responses from prospects. Capturing information via legitimate means allows you to re-market to this customer base and to see which forms, programs, tools, and salespeople are getting the best results.
- Build a list.
Use online forms and phone logs to build an opt-in prospect list to serve as a powerful conversion tool. (See below.)
- Re-market, re-market, re-market.
A customer may need to see a message more than five times to even notice it once! Keep your marketing efforts going … and going …
- Don’t forget referrals!
Build a specific program to track, manage, and solicit referral business. We like e-mail campaigns and direct mail for this. Give us a call to discuss how to make these work for you: 703-968-6767.
Your existing customer base is your best source of more business. Develop a formidable plan to make sure your customers know what services you provide and that you keep your core and other related messages in front of your customers as often as possible. (It may take up to 10 forms of contact for a customer to identify with your brand) Remember, sell the benefits…not the service!
- Use programs and tools to generate interest.
People like simplicity and packages, offers, and deals that are easy to understand and evaluate. By creating various packages or free tools for prospects to interact with, you can stimulate interest that may have waned otherwise. (We offered a free “ImageCheck”? a few years ago that reviewed a Web site’s brand impact; it was very popular and led to lots of new business.)
- Hit them from all angles!
It’s called shotgun marketing. A shotgun shell contains hundreds of tiny lead balls, increasing your chance of hitting a target. Marketing is much the same … the more media you use effectively, the better the chance that your message will be seen and remembered. There is no secret solution to marketing; it’s all about creating a total user experience across all platforms that projects your brand.
- Use technologies and trends; they are your friends!
Using various technologies such as online bookings, reservations, response forms, PDF downloads, Blogging, Wikis, internal search engines, and newsfeeds can have a dramatic effect on your overall brand identity and on your marketing strategy in general. There are too many benefits to go into here, but feel free to visit us at www.imageworksstudio.com to learn more.
- Calls to action.
Calls to action are perhaps the most important aspect of marketing and advertising. After all, what good is any message or image if it doesn’t initiate an action that leads to a conversion? When developing a call to action, remember the four personality types and make use of available technologies to make compelling, interactive offers. You should have a unique call to action for each type of person who represents your customer base. For example … Visit www.imageworksstudio.com to learn more about successful branding and to request a free evaluation of the effectiveness of your home pages.
Scott C. Margenau is president of ImageWorks Studio, an award-winning marketing and branding firm specializing in online and off-line media. Visit www.imageworksstudio.com for more info.