Marketing is really quite straightforward, Given this, it might sound surprising that many businesses - particularly small businesses - shy away from it or don't really do it as effectively as they could. However, the number 1 reason why marketing isn’t given priority (especially in the manufacturing industry) is a lack of ‘know-how’ on some of the foundational topics. Crafting a ‘Core Marketing Message’ is one of those very topics, so here’s your no bulls%#t guide to creating yours!
The key to good marketing is in the planning. If planned well, it's a pain-free experience and – if you have a good product or capabilities – you'll quickly see not only the positive results but why it's an integral part of the business itself.
The most important starting point is working out your value proposition, or core marketing message. Put simply, this is the thing that differentiates you from your competitors. The reason why your customers choose you above the others, distilled into a sound-bite.
Below is a simple five-step guide to developing your value proposition using the 'Duct tape marketing system', which is a system developed by renowned small business marketing expert John Jantsch.
As Jantsch says:
“Find a way to differentiate your business, one that matters to somebody, or you'll be forever doomed to compete on price…”
STEP ONE: NARROW YOUR FOCUS
Start off by thinking small. This is what too many businesses fail to do, instead trying to be all things to all people or simply sailing along with the pack. If you want to be successful, you're more likely to achieve that by focusing on that single thing that is your speciality. Far better to excel in a narrow field and provide for a group of committed loyal customers than to provide a more standardised service to a wider customer base who will desert you for a cheaper deal at the drop of a hat.
Once you've decided that you are going to narrow your focus and hone in on your value proposition – your ultimate selling point – the next step is determining exactly what this is.
STEP TWO: IDENTIFY YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Jantsch suggests that the best way of locating the point that differentiates you from others in the field is to find out from your best clients. They provide the best 'pair of eyes' through which to view your business and see what it is that really works. He suggests creating a list of six to eight of your best clients – those who you wish your customer base could be filled with – and talking with each to find what it is they value about you.
These could be your longest-serving clients, your most regular clients, those who spend most or those you just hold in high regard. The important thing is they are good clients who will be able to offer valuable feedback about your business.
STEP THREE: INTERROGATE YOUR CLIENT
You've found your ideal clients, now you need to extract that all-important data from them. Set aside around fifteen to twenty minutes to chat with each one, either face to face or over the phone. Draw up a list of questions around the following:
What you're looking for here is qualitative rather than quantitative data. Namely, it's not about a tick list and number crunching but about exploring their answers, delving deeper and trying to find out what they really mean. For example, if a client gives a rather broad or vague answer ('we really like your capabilities’), ask them to expand on that. What do they think gives your products the edge over your competitors?
STEP FOUR: DRAW OUT THE MAIN THEME(S)
With interviews and qualitative data, it's all about looking through what you've got and identifying the key themes. Or even better, if one particular theme emerges more strongly than anything else.
What's important here is not to overlook or dismiss anything as unimportant, as it can often be the little things that you might dismiss as insignificant that are the things your customers value the most.
Jantsch uses the example of a remodelling contractor that felt that their clients valued their excellent craftsmanship above everything else. But upon interviewing clients, they found out that it was how thoroughly the workers cleaned up the site every day that was a more crucial difference. The excellent craftsmanship was something that was more of an expectation as the company's prices were expensive.
So it might not always be the obvious things such as product quality or good service that make you stand out. It could be smaller, seemingly insignificant, things such as packaging or having a good documentation.
STEP FIVE: CREATE YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION
If you have followed steps one to four, you should now be in a position to complete the final all-important step: creating your value proposition, or core marketing message. Thanks to the illuminating information provided by your top clients, you have uncovered exactly what it is about your business that makes you stand out from the rest and appeal to them. If it appeals to these six to eight customers, there must be others like them out there who you can attract by highlighting what makes you special in your marketing materials.
All that needs to be done now is to take this unique selling point about you and encapsulate it in a way that will stick in people's minds. Something you can use as a slogan on your promotional materials. So for example if clients have highlighted how fast you are able to ship orders, you could use something like 'The number one choice for speedy delivery'.
And There You Have It...
So there you go. Five simple steps to determine your core marketing message, give yourself a great foundation on which to build a winning marketing strategy and take all of the pain and confusion out of effectively promoting your business!
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Ashley is our resident Engineering Marketer. Passionate about everything Engineering, Innovative and Creative, his mission is to get UK Manufacturers online and growing.
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