***Warning: Massive post (1649 words) read with anticipation of awesome info.***
Lets have a recap. You got an overview of strategic marketing is in part 1 of this series and you also learned that you will fail without a marketing plan. After that you got all excited about developing your plan so you decided to proceed and read about picking your business model, budget and niche in part 2 (where to start). Warning: Do not proceed without fully accomplishing part 2! All of your marketing decisions will be partially based on the foundation of how your business is structured, how much cash you can spend and what niche you are in. Recap over….
Who are you? Why should I pay attention to you? What can you do for me? I can’t trust you can I? What?!? Where am I? My life is valuable I don’t want to waste it on useless things! This article looks interesting…ZZZZZzzzzzzz…I guess I was wrong *clicks back button*
These are all thoughts that your customers have. You can think of them like a giant biological gold miner’s sift, ya’ know like the one they used in rivers during the gold rush. The problem is that the sift doesn’t always work perfectly and lets much of the potentially valuable information slip through. Only if a big piece of shiny gold or a huge sparkling diamond gets plopped right in front of their face they’ll take action and seize an opportunity.
No matter what business you are in you have to pimp smack your customers across the face with superlative value that exceeds all anxiety, fear, and objections. You must make yourself a diamond in the rough.
This is the part of marketing that has the steepest mountains and highest fences. This is the most important step out of your whole marketing plan. You can also have the most fun on this step too.
Now get out your thinking cap and a big supply of creativity pills, you’re gonna’ need some creative juices flowing.
Positioning yourself as a source of value comes in three phases:
3. Chopping Wood
Before we dive in, what do we hope to accomplish? In part, that depends on our business model. In general though, with this step we want to make ourselves unique and stand out from the crowd in a valuable way. Keep this in mind as we go through the three phases.
What image comes to your mind when you hear the word storm? Thunder crashing? Lightning flashing? Torrential downpour? Fierce wind blowing your umbrella inside out? That’s exactly what your brainstorming should be like. If your brainstorm is calm and collected then you’ll be missing out on some of your most innovative and valuable ideas. What I do is write down everything I think of revolving around a concept or question giving no thought to whether or not the idea is good. I time my self for a minimum of 5 minutes, most times longer. After I thunder my ideas down, I frantically read them over jotting down additional thoughts and crossing out the stupid or unintelligible parts. Once I get a good page or two filled up of these ideas then I go to the phase 2. Some questions that can help you brainstorm on how to position your value are these:
What is my businesses mission? Why should anyone pay attention to me? What does my ideal customer want, feel and think? What motivates them? What does my business have that others don’t? What do I do better than other businesses? What do people expect from my industry? What do they not expect? What does my audience want to hear? What feed back has my business or businesses like mine received? What would I expect from a business like mine? What would impress me coming from a business like mine? What problems do people need fixed in my niche? Where do people go online for information about my niche? Why?
Do not nit pick or think about these things too deeply in the brainstorm phase. Your brain will go into information overload and freeze up if you do that. The storm gets everything down on paper for phase 2. Oh, and most important of all, have fun! If you’re not having fun then you should stop and have another go when you’re in a better mood.
Now that you have a bunch of ideas on how to make yourself unique and valuable we have to get our hands dirty and set out to gain a deeper understanding of our niche and competition. Research businesses similar to yours. How are they run? Why do people frequent them? What do people like about them? Don’t like? What advertising are they doing? What does their website say? Then research their customers. What are the customers problems? Why are they looking to buy a solution to something? What value are they looking for?
I know, this sounds like hard work….well, it is! There is a whole industry devoted to market research! But it’s not to hard with the internet. Check out this market research tutorial HERE*.
The goal for this phase is to determine potential angles or spins on problems that haven’t already been addressed in your niche. You can also learn from the way your competitors position themselves as a source of value.
Try to get a feel for what the average business in your niche is doing and then have a brainstorm on how to do it in a way that is better, more accessible, more appealing, and suites people better. For example, washing machines. If you can make a washing machine with more features and benefits, that lasts longer, comes with a better warranty, superior customer service , all at a better price, then you’ll be able to pimp slap that value right into your customer’s frontal cortex. In response the wallet will open and monies will start flying your direction.
The market research phase helps you get even more ideas and helps you to refine the idea’s you got from the brainstorm phase. The more ideas you have down on paper the better. Separate your ideas into related groups in preparation for phase 3.
Chopping Wood (narrowing scope)
Bam! Splinters are flying, wood chips are littering the floor, and the ax is making big ideas smaller and more specific. If you don’t get my little metaphor, I’ll give you a simile: your ideas are like logs, they can provide value (fire) only if they are cut small enough to fit into the fireplace (your customer’s lazy brain).
Now if you still don’t get it you lazy brained reader, valuable things that your business delivers must be super easy to understand by your customers. They have to be unique, extremely specific and convey exactly what your customer wants.
Some people call this your “elevator pitch” or “unique value proposition” but I don’t like those terms because they kind of denote that you can only have one. While I agree that you need a short one liner to describe your business, you can still have multiple “Value Statements” that all figure into your business. For bloggers, each and every post headline you write is a value statement. It tells your reader what benefit they’ll get by reading your article in a unique and interesting way. Read more about value statements HERE*.
So, once you figure out some ways to position yourself as a source of value, research them and refine them, you must chop them into bite sized and immediately understandable pieces. Check out some real world examples HERE*.
Now that you have a bunch of ideas and a few value statements, unfortunately, there is still more brainstorming, research, and chopping wood that you have to do. You really absolutely without a doubt have to figure out who your audience is.
Quickly, an audience is any group of people who might be interested in the value that your business provides.
Now brainstorm on things like:
Who would find my service/product/blog valuable? An 80 year old male historian probably wouldn’t be interested in buying an e-book about how to meet Justin Beiber in real life. (hey, ya never know)
Who is my ideal customer that is just itching to hand me their money?
What are the different groups of people who would find my value statements interesting? Value statement: “Cure your high blood pressure cheaply and naturally.” Groups that may be interested: anybody with high blood pressure, women with it, men with it, people interested in saving money, interested in natural food…etc. The sky is the limit.
I think that should be enough to get you thinking like an experienced marketer. Just go with the flow.
Then, of course, see what you can do about researching your different groups. Find out as much as you can about them. Read their social network profiles, dating profiles, blogs, twitter, and post on message boards/ forums. Find out what magazines, newspapers, blogs, and other websites they read. What do they view as valuable. The goal is to find out what is motivating them to view something more valuable over something else. In addition, you want to find out ways that you can connect with them.
Finally try to chop them into even smaller groups. i.e Stay at home mothers under 25 who are overweight, interested in cheap and natural ways to help their mate cope with his back pain.
Now that you’ve figured out all these groups, you can go back and brainstorm more value statements that are specific to each group with the goal in mind to figure out ways to appeal more to each group’s motivation. Tapping into a person’s core motivation is what will make you successful. But we’ll talk more about that in the next lesson HERE*
PS. All of your future marketing decisions will be based on what your value statements are and who your audience is.
Summary: Brainstorm why you are unique and valuable, research competition and more ways to be valuable and unique, chop those ideas into digestible and straight to the point statements (aka value statements). Then based on your value statements brainstorm research and segment an audience.
*Sometimes when I am writing an article I get an idea that needs more detail so I put the placeholder “HERE*” where I’ll put a link to an article that I have yet to write about the subject.