Every game has its rules and you can’t succeed if you don’t understand them. So, what are the rules of marketing?
The rules of marketing include the laws and regulations, but you’ll never win a game if you only avoid breaking its rules. When it comes to effective marketing, the referee is the consumer and they get to choose the winner.
Marketing is a game where you get points for style and the consumers decide who wins.
How do they choose the winner? How do you style points? And which rules shouldn’t you ever break?
In other words: How do you create effective marketing messages?
Consumers’ rules of marketing
The marketing game is harsh; winning once gives you no guarantees of another win. So, you can get one customer without ever even interesting anyone else.
Every consumer writes their own rules. And every consumer evaluates your marketing and advertising with those rules in their mind – without even noticing it.
You lose if you make one foul.
Humans are very good at making instant decisions. We learned this skill during the prehistoric times; if you didn’t react quickly to the smallest things, you were on the lions’ menu.
Most snap evaluations that we do are correct, so we trust them without noticing it. We see so much marketing and advertising that we don’t have the time to concentrate on every message. The decision we subconsciously make within seconds, is usually our last.
Marketing has to speak to a group of prospects at once. When you can’t break any one’s rules, the only solution is to decide conveniently prejudiced referees.
Pick the right referees
The first step in effective marketing is to attract the right people’s attention. NOTE! The “right” people, not “as many as possible”, as it’s often believed.
If you target everyone, you attract no one.
You can never please every one. That applies to you, your products, and your marketing messages.
Those who notice your messages will evaluate them. If they decide (consciously or subconsciously) that your product isn’t good for them, it’s difficult to change their opinion later.
When you decide who you’re targeting, only pick an audience that you can handle; you can’t break anyone’s rules.
Do you only think you’re interesting?
It’s easy to make an advertisement that attracts a lot of attention. But that’s not the goal. The goal of advertising is to attract the attention of your target audience.
The most typical mistake is to make an ad that would attract your attention.
Will you buy your own product? If not, then your opinion doesn’t really matter, right?
Here’s an extreme example:
I love to play snooker (I do it often and poorly), so you can get my attention if you speak about it. But if you sell tennis rackets, you’ve wasted your marketing budget.
Obviously most marketing isn’t that poorly directed, but the problem remains: advertisements often attract people who won’t buy the product.
A typical mistake is to pick the wrong problem. For example a department store advertised travel guide books as the answer to the pain of waiting for a trip.
Sure, most travelers would love to go now, but will reading a book really help? You could advertise the same product as the answer to a bigger problem: a holiday always seems too short and looking for the attractions, restaurants, and other services takes valuable time.
A good problem
Some problems are better for marketing than others. If your product is the answer to even just one good problem, then advertising it is relatively simple.
Picking the “best” problem is a requirement for effective marketing. Even if you’re an excellent copywriter and you have a limitless marketing budget, an ineffective problem will make it near impossible to succeed.
On the other hand an effective problem will compensate for poor copy and small budget more than anything else.
So, what’s a good problem for marketing like?
- Easily relatable. Use a problem your potential customers can easily relate to.
- Important. This is a no brainer, but the problem has to be important enough to drive sales.
- Visual. The best problems create vivid mental images.
But how do you know which problems are important to your customers?
Do you know your customers?
Knowing your target customer is essential for effective marketing.
Without a clear target customer marketing is about luck. The better your customer profiles are, the better are your chances of success.
The point of customer profiles is to segment potential customers into manageable groups. You can then target a specific segment with a marketing message.
The importance of different problems is maybe the most important part of your customer profiles for effective advertising.
Usually it’s best to concentrate on just one problem in each marketing message you create.
It’s better to be focused and speak to a specific group of people rather than trying to address every problem you can solve.
Effective marketing is based on targeting. Every bit of information that the listener doesn’t need is a distraction from the message you want them to understand and remember.