What All Your IT Marketing Should Be AboutBy Howard M. Cohen | Print
Many think the purpose of marketing is to talk all about your company.
Just look at most websites and you'll see every paragraph begins with "I," "Our," "We," "My" or the company's name. Get over yourself and realize that the potential customer reading your copy is only interested in one thing — value! The value they can obtain from your services.
You want to increase sales. You want to sell your target customers more of what they buy. More importantly, you want those customers to buy those things from you. So what is your marketing all about?
You might have been taught to sell yourself, sell your company, then sell your products and services, but none of that said anything about marketing. Before you can sell yourself, your company or anything else you must first connect with a potential customer to sell. That’s why you need marketing.
Marketing is not about you. Nor is it about your history, your superior skills, your legendary knowledge, your fabulous products, incredible services or any of that.
Why you market
What you must market to potential customers is the clear, undeniable fact that you understand exactly what they value, what they need, what they are seeking, what will make them more successful — all of which you have the ability to provide. Moreover, you provide it at a higher level of quality, on time, within budget and in a way your competitors can't.
That is the message which must live at the heart of all your marketing. Not how great your company is. You can trumpet that as loud and long as you like, but it won’t change minds. Not even how long you’ve been in business and how much your customers all love you. It’s nice to be loved, but that says nothing to the specific concerns of each specific customer. And it's not that you’re better, cheaper, faster, more reliable, more likable or have more friends and customers than anyone else. It is unlikely that anyone is going to believe you when you say all that anyway.
You solved problems and improved advantage
• Each customer you market to also wants to increase sales and reduce costs and satisfy customers, just like you. Your marketing must demonstrate how deeply you understand this.
• Each customer has challenges and obstacles standing in their way. Your marketing must convince them that you have the ability to clear those out of their way.
• Each customer wants their operations to run more smoothly, faster, with fewer or no errors. Your marketing must demonstrate your superior ability to achieve that.
• Each customer wants to reduce their costs. And, yes, your marketing must show you have that covered as well.
By now you’ve likely determined that your marketing is far more about your customer than it is about you. That is absolutely correct.
Remember this to make your marketing work better
Opportunities to render your marketing ineffective are in abundance. When marketing, there is a sequence of messaging that will keep your readers engaged and get them to read your entire message:
Respect the “hook,” the first sentence of any marketing vehicle you create. That first sentence is your only chance to intrigue the reader into reading your message right through to your call-to-action.
• Give clear evidence of your understanding of the reader’s concerns, needs and pain.
• Give clear evidence of your ability and your history of solving those concerns. Say everything in the language your customer will best understand.
• Make it easy for your prospective customer to move to the next step in the sales cycle. Tell them clearly and concisely exactly what to do to connect with you. Keep it simple.
• Keep the loop open. Let the reader know you’re going to reach out to them again, shortly.
• Don’t keep welcoming prospects to everything. Remember the importance of “the hook,” that all-important first sentence. “Hello and thank you for reading this message ... ” is not compelling in any way, shape or form. In fact, it’s wasted words.
• Don’t keep thanking and re-introducing yourself. “Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about your plans for ... ” impresses nobody. It’s polite. They don’t need polite. They need solutions to their problems.
• Don’t make general statements. “In today’s busy marketplace ... ” or “Most companies today are recognizing that ... ” may sound convincing to you. They are wasted noise to your reader. Get to the point.
• Don’t start anything with the words “I,” “Me,” “My,” “Our” or anything else that refers to you. The first thing you say every time is about the values your reader holds dear. Stay focused on their perception of customer value. What’s valuable to them? What are they looking for?
Sales and marketing
Sales and marketing are two different functions, and ultimately, marketing should lead to sales. That said, you want to make money now. Right now. Practice bifocal vision here. Keep a close watch on the long-term sales goals, sure. But make sure some effective short-term messaging tools are created to win quicker sales that will “keep the doors open” and generate more revenue to spend on more marketing to get the wheel spinning and keep it spinning. A few short term wins will always go a long way toward supporting the long-term enthusiasm for your ongoing marketing.
Your best marketing lives at the cross section of defining what your customer finds most valuable and your ability to deliver it.