Why Your Marketing Isn’t Working!

traffic2 photo by kennymatic

Marketing for small business owners has gotten a lot harder in the last 20 years.  Way back when, if you wanted to generate some sales, you could pull together an ad, let people know what you were selling and you stood a good chance of selling more stuff.  These days there’s way too much noise out there for poor marketing to drive any sort of results.  You have to know your target market, but even more importantly you have to know the problem you’re solving or the outcome you’re delivering.

Marketing can be a complex process – you need to understand the demographics and the psychographics of your target market. You need to have an insight into their mindset and why they buy, what drives them to spend money. You need a clear call to action. You need your message conveyed in a medium that your target market is likely to read.

In fact there are a lot of reasons why your marketing isn’t working. However the most likely reason your marketing isn’t working is because your message isn’t resonating with your target market – they don’t care!

Which of these statements is more appealing to you?

  • We use adaptive intelligence and state of the art digital detection technologies to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion.
  • We reduce stops at traffic lights by up to 90%.

That’s the choice that Kansas City based Rhythm Engineering (www.rhythmtraffic.com ) had to make and they’ve done a fantastic job translating complex (and impressive) technical features into the benefits and outcomes their target market responds to.

At the end of the day, I don’t care how you do what you do, or what technology you use, but I do care that you can deliver a solution that solves a problem I have (or means I spend a lot less time at red lights).

Tune into WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)

One of the biggest traps that businesses fall into is focusing their marketing efforts on the bells and whistles, the features of their products and services. Your potential buyers just want to know “What’s in it for me?”.

As an example, Sharp is currently running a big ad campaign for their new LCD televisions with a lead message of: “Quattron quad pixel Technology – creating colors never before seen on an LCD TV.”

What? I’ve been watching TV for a long time and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the colors that are out there. Quattron quad pixel technology sounds impressive, but really why should I care?

This features trap doesn’t just apply to technology companies. How many ads have you seen where the leading point is something like “Established since 1924” or “Located on the corner of 47th and Main street”. The points they are likely trying to make is they’re reliable (since they’ve been around a long time) and they’re convenient since they are just around the corner. But from a marketing perspective, if you want people to get the point you have to spell it out for them.

Your customers don’t have the time, the patience or the inclination to read between the lines and figure out how your service or product is going to help them. You have to overtly spell it out for them.

Case Study – Rhythm Engineering

Let’s take a look at several of the important things Rhythm has done with their web page.

Clear and graphic benefits message – the primary point of attention on the home page is the graphic banner at the top left. Rhythm is using eye catching graphics and simple benefit statements (Up to 90% fewer stops, 30% less emissions, 25% less fuel consumption). These are strong appeals to their target market (drivers and traffic engineers).

Using numbers and statistics – people are inherently wired to respond to statistics and facts. Numbers build credibility and they create a framework that make it easy to understand and share. Rhythm uses a lot of numbers to communicate their points, but they do it in an easy to understand way that builds credibility and increases interest.

Generous and visible testimonials – part of the psychology behind why people buy is the concept of ‘Social Proof’ – We determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct. This concept was popularized by Dr. Robert Cialdini as one of the 6 principles of influence. Basically the science proves the common sense idea that people are more likely to buy something that other people have already bought and approved. Rhythm uses lots of testimonials and places them in visible spots all throughout the website.

What should you do? Try a Red/Blue test.

If you think you might be at risk of falling into the Features trap, then you should do a Red/Blue test on your marketing materials. Pick out a brochure, flyer or print out your home page copy and circle in Red every statement that talks about you or your company. Look for sentences that start with ‘We’ or ‘Our Company’.

Now read through the document again and circle in blue every statement that talks about your customer or their problems. Look for sentences that start with ‘You’ or ‘Your’.

If you end up with more Red than Blue, then you need to rewrite your messaging. Although there’s not a specific right answer, at least two thirds of the focus (or more) should be on your customers and the outcomes that you deliver. Also look into using more testimonials…they should focus on solutions and outcomes as well.

It may feel like a lot of work to go back and rework your message, but if you want your marketing to work and your potential customers to care what you’re saying, it’s something you have to do.

If you get stuck, contact me or go check out Rhythm’s website again.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – leave me a comment here and let me know what you think.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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