There’s a popular marketing phrase that goes, “I’m not just the owner – I’m a customer as well” and that could be the tag line of this blog as well. I don’t just offer advice to small business owners on creating your small business marketing strategy – but I’m a customer of my own advice as well!
As the owner of a small business – I too engage in marketing tactics as part of my marketing strategy to keep my business alive and kicking. Recently, I have been immersed in creating a new product. My plans are to reach out to a new tightly targeted audience with this new product – however – along the way I noticed a disturbing trend that may afflict you when you’re planning your small business marketing strategy.
Like those that pave the road to hell – I began with the best intentions. I had my target audience’s GDP (Goals, Desires & Problems) front and center. I know these people. I am close friends with several members of my target audience – so I know these people intimately. I know what they’ll say when they’re wearing their business persona – and I’ve heard what they say behind closed doors. I’ve heard them express their fears and desires – and I know how to solve a key problem they’re facing.
Sounds like a great foundation, doesn’t it? Of course, there was a lot of ground to cover between the inception of the product and bringing it to market. Unfortunately – as I began the journey from inception to product launch – I lost sight of my original marketing plan for my product.
Seth Godin strongly recommends that the marketing should come before the product and I followed that advice in my product development. I had in mind the perfect advertising campaign for my yet to be developed product.
The popular AMC television show Mad Men gave a great “behind the scenes” look at just such a pitch:
It took me literally MONTHS to come up with the perfect mix – a mix of the “flash” provided by technology while dovetailing with the needs of my less than tech savvy target audience. I researched alternatives and found out what the market was already offering, and I came up with something I thought was truly original yet timelessly classic.
Did I mention that – when I came up with the original marketing plan for the product – that I didn’t create the marketing materials for it at the time? It was so clear in my mind’s eye – that I was sure I didn’t need a physical blueprint to guide my way. (Needless to say – hindsight being 20/20 and all – this was a HUGE mistake!)
So I began the journey. The journey of developing the product specifically designed with my target audience’s needs in mind. When I finally had the perfect mix – it was time to begin creating the marketing pieces for the product.
At first, I didn’t recognize how far off my marketing strategy was from the original vision. At first I told myself that was a small deviation…. a matter of a few tiny degrees. However, as I continued to move forward, those tiny little degrees began to add up. A tick here – a tick there – and before I knew it – my marketing materials were fully 180 degrees off the original course.
Fortunately – I recognized the error of my ways during the creating of the marketing materials instead of waiting for the marketplace to deliver the blow to my ego. As a matter of fact, I’m still reeling from the shock of the revelation as I write this blog post. How could my good intentions have gone so horribly awry? How could I have gotten so far off track?
Fortunately, a client of mine returned several copies of my book, Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results. She had booked a booth at a trade show and graciously offered to sell my book from her booth, so I sent her a couple of dozen copies. She sold all but a few and when the box arrived with the copies of my book, I took a moment to flip through my own carefully transcribed words of wisdom.
If I were creating a video clip of my review of my own work, the music would be ominous and foreboding.
“Do as I say – not as as I do” are the best words to describe my realization at moment.
I had broken all of my own rules for great marketing. I had neglected to create a composite client profile – I had lost focus of my target audience and instead was in the middle of creating a marketing campaign tightly targeted towards someone OTHER than my target audience.
Truth be told – I was creating marketing materials based on what’s important to ME – not on what’s most important to my target audience.
Since I’m not a member of my target audience – this was a HUGE mistake.
I am grateful that I stumbled upon a copy of my own book before I invested thousands of dollars in launching an advertising campaign destined to miss the mark. I’m happy to say reviewing the book helped me to bring my marketing strategy BACK into focus. It was only after reviewing the book that I remembered my original marketing plan for this product.