How to Make Your Marketing More Productive

By Howard M. Cohen

If you find yourself complaining that your marketing just isn't producing any results, it may be because your marketing material is all about you.

If your reaction to that statement is "Well, who is my marketing supposed to be about?" the answer is … your customer.

What's in It for Me?

Potential customers receive all of your marketing with that one question burning in their mind: "What's in it for me?" They want to know immediately what value is available to them from you so they can decide if they want to know more. If they find worthwhile value up-front, they'll read more. If they find more value as they read, they may even take you up on the call-to-action that must appear in every marketing item you create.

Who Cares About You?

"We are ABC Technology, and we are the best at what we do!"  Who cares if you think you're the best?  That statement does nothing to change readers' lives or show them available value. They don't know you yet, so they just don't care about you. You can tell them how many years you've been in business, all the awards you've won or how many vendors' products you're certified on, and they just simply don't care. 

What they do care about is what they might get out of you and what value you might have for them. Here are some ways many channel partners fail to lead with customers' best interests and convey the value that's in store for them, and also how to turn those around and make them attract customers to you.

Don't Introduce Yourself

In classes on writing marketing messages, we have students write a typical marketing letter such as a cover letter for a proposal they're submitting.  They usually look something like this:

"Thank you for offering ABC Technology the opportunity to propose this project to you.  As we have discussed, ABC Technology has deep experience and great expertise at performing projects like this, and we look forward to bringing those qualities to bear on your project.

Protecting your data assets is one of the most important steps in assuring business continuity. …"

We then ask them if they think the first sentence, often referred to as "the hook," would really grab readers' interest. When they respond with glum faces and shaking heads, we invite them to simply delete the entire first paragraph.

Now the opening reads: "Protecting your data assets is one of the most important steps in assuring business continuity."

That's much more provocative. We've all been taught to politely introduce ourselves before we get down to business.  In writing marketing messages, you need to toss that out. Just get right down to business.

Couch Your Claims in the Context of the Customer

"ABC Technology delivers the most effective data protection available in the market today" might be the opening of a paragraph on your Website. Who cares?

Turn it around and say the same thing in the context of the customer:

"Protecting your data assets is one of the most important steps in assuring business continuity, which is why so many customers have taken advantage of our data protection services."

While the reader won't care about the original statement, this one evokes "yes" from them immediately. It also gives you the opportunity to point out that other customers have found your services valuable. So should this reader.

'Constant and Consistent' Constructs Your Community

Marketing is no longer a process of "getting your message out there" where it will "attract more eyeballs." There's just too much noise—too many marketers clamoring for customers' attention. It is all but impossible to rise above that much noise.

That's why you must cut through it, and the only way to do that is to leverage your greatest asset—your existing relationships.

Today, marketing is the process of building and continuously growing your community of supporters and promoters. Every customer you attract knows many other potential customers. Get them to tell those people about you. Give them reason to brag about the great job they had you do for them. Have them invite their friends to your events or share your content with them.

There's just no such thing as a "one shot" in marketing. If you only do one event all year, or put out one bulletin or newsletter, don't bother. Don't waste your money. It won't be effective. Better to spend on smaller efforts more often, spread across time, than to blow it all on one big extravaganza.

Marketing is a relationship-building process that takes time and repeated, consistent, constant contacts from you to your potential audience. Write to them, call them, entertain them, inform them, but keep reaching and contacting them, showing them more and more value until they feel like they're your good friends. People do buy from people they like.

We'll dive deeper into specific strategies in future posts. Watch this space. Tell your friends.

This article was originally published on 2015-08-19