When it comes to making better marketing decisions, it’s often a question of when, not just what.
- Should we focus on expanding our advertising now, or wait until later?
- Should we update our visual branding now, or wait until later?
- Should we expand our target markets now, or wait until later?
Here’s why the question of when is so important. Because the details of your marketing don’t operate in a vacuum. Every aspect of your marketing has to work together in order to move you in the right direction. It’s really only as strong as its weakest link.
- Worrying about getting lots of exposure for your ads, but your website isn’t effective at capturing interest and leads.
- Not having a really well defined ideal customer profile and target market, but then spending all your time trying to narrow down your visual branding (like your logo).
- Trying to attract new customers without first having a way to retain your existing customers.
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Think of it like a pyramid. You focus on the foundation first. At the top are the details that really only make a difference when the foundation itself is strong.
So what are these foundational pieces? Where should you focus first?
Think of it as shifting the frame from wider to more narrow. Focusing first on getting very clear about your ideal customer, your target market, the problem they have that you can solve, and the very specific value that you bring—how you’re going to help them solve that problem.
So the first step is understanding your customer. Understanding exactly who you’re a good fit for, and who you’re not a good fit for.
The second step is communicating that focus and solution clearly.
And then the third step is promoting and scaling that message.
The mistake that so many business owners make is skipping past the foundational step. And the more steps that you are removed from the foundation, the more you have to try to make up for that lack of clarity with brute force, with scaling, with spending lots of time and money.
You’re forced to default to focusing on expensive tactics like broad advertising or direct messaging campaigns in order to cast the widest net possible. You’re forced to make your website about you, your product, and your features, instead of what it really should be about—your customers and the problems that they’re experiencing.
So here’s today’s exercise:
Grab a piece of blank paper. At the top, write “next marketing step.”
Question 1: “How clear are we about our ideal customer, the specific problem that they struggle with, and how exactly we help them solve that problem?”
Don’t rush to an answer. Just sit with that question for a little bit. Let it just stay in the back of your mind.
If you’re having trouble answering this, or if your answer feels vague or unclear in any way, this is where you’ll need to focus your attention first.
On the other hand, if you have absolute clarity about who your ideal customer is, and exactly how you help make their life a little (or even a lot) better, then move on to the second question.
Question 2: “How clearly and effectively are we communicating that solution?”
When you read through your website, or your ads, or your content marketing, or your pitch deck, does the messaging focus on your customer and their perspective? Or is it all about your company and your product or service?
If your messaging is unclear, unfocused, all about you, or not generating the level of response you’re looking for, this is where you need to focus your attention first.
On the other hand, if your messaging is all about the customer and what matters most to them—and it’s generating responses, sales, inquiries, and orders—then move on to the third question.
Question 3: “How efficiently are we scaling our messaging so that it’s reaching the right customers in a way that’s cost and time effective?”
Are your online ads targeting the right audiences? Does anyone actually read your blog posts? Are your email campaigns actually being opened?
Even with a clear idea of your ideal customer and targeted persuasive messaging that speaks directly to their needs, if your message costs too much to reach them—or doesn’t even reach them at all—then this is where you can focus your attention.