The key to your value proposition is not necessarily describing your product or service but generating enthusiasm among your potential customers.

Marketing Basics

Marketing may have different meaning in different contexts and companies, but it always boils down to drawing people into your business. Or does it?

Marketing can be divided in many sub categories, like inbound vs outbound, online vs offline, above the line vs below the line, etc. It really doesn’t matter how you divide it, the basics are always the same and whether you are doing marketing for a small business or a huge app, you are the CMO or a marketing analyst, it’s always good to go back to the roots.

Six steps of effective marketing

There are six key steps that you need to go through in order to make a successful marketing effort. I won’t explain in detail how to accomplish them here but I’ll link other articles so you can expand on whatever topic you prefer.

The six key steps to successful marketing are:

  1. Having a clear target audience (aka market research)
  2. Knowing your value proposition (aka branding)
  3. Reaching to your audience efficiently (this is what the term marketing usually refers to)
  4. Delivering the value (aka product)
  5. Engaging with customers (aka customer support)
  6. Analyzing and implement feedback

Having a clear target audience

I’ve seen this concept of defining your target audience get extremely overlooked by all kinds of businesses. Usually people would claim they know their audience but when faced with the task to describe it they usually wind up with “everyone that needs insert product name here”. Even if you can trim it down to something like “women in their early 20s that enjoy going out with their friends” it doesn’t really get you much detail on your customer’s profile.

A good customer profile should make it simple for you to come up with ideas for your marketing and product strategy.

Let’s take a look at the following customer profile description for a product that enables remote work with a nice pay: “Women who are on their first pregnancy and are concerned with handling their current job and their newborn. They would like to find a way to earn a decent amount of money while being able to work from home with their child and manage their timetable”. Descriptions like this enable you to brainstorm a lot of ideas for your product and marketing strategy, such as creating content on patenting (or partnering with people who write on that topic), describing the benefit of being with your family at home rather than just “working on your PJs”, and even adapting the product to allow for a flexible routine.

Note that this profile does not describe every customer for that business, so we will probably need 3 or 4 profiles like this one in order to map all our current and potential customers.

Creating this customer profiles take time. There are plenty of strategies to do so but I recommend simply talking to your customers about themselves. If you can afford it (the time mainly) apply a Jobs to be Done approach! This will definitely help you create better profiles and understand exactly what they need.

Knowing your value proposition

Once you know what your customer needs are, the value proposition must be stated. This is crucial and will probably have a different wording depending on the user profile you are targeting.

The key to your value proposition is not necessarily describing your product or service but generating enthusiasm among your potential customers. It should be simple and short. When understanding your value proposition you should ask yourself (and your customers!) why are they buying your product, and why are they buying from you and not other competitors. A Jobs to be Done approach goes a long way here too.

Once you identify your value proposition, put it in simple words, write it down, and pitch potential customers with it. Analyze their reactions. Are they excited? Do they believe in you? Does the value proposition sounds like something they would want? If you think that the words are not generating the response you wanted, try rephrasing it. If the results are still not good, go back to brainstorming and doing user research.

Reaching to your audience efficiently

Now that you have your audience defined and your value proposition in place, it shouldn’t be a problem to understand how to reach your audience.

The most important question you need to ask yourself is “where does my target audience spend their time?”. Is it certain Facebook groups? Following Instagram influencers? Gourmet coffee shops? Comic book conventions? Business events? Searching in Google?

Wherever they are, reach out to them. Initially it’s a good idea to do it 1:1, attending the convention or event, participating in the Facebook group, interacting with the Instagram influencers, etc. Once you do that and you understand the dynamics, move to paid marketing.

If you understood the audience, have the right value proposition, and are confident with where to find them, the cost per lead that you are paying should make sense (unless your there’s something wrong with your monetization strategy).

Delivering the value

Whatever promise you made to your potential customer in order to make the sale (or to get them to install your app) you must fulfill it, and fast.

Even though your product, service, or app should deliver value to your customer in a prolonged period of time, first impressions are crucial. In fact, there’s a huge chance that the first impression you make may be the only interaction you’ll have with your customer or user, if you don’t play your card right.

The key here is to deliver all you promised, but many times that’s not possible. For example, a product that promises to increase your business revenue won’t achieve its goals right away. For these cases, you need to pitch your new users how you are going to fulfill their needs. Tell them what they will accomplish and how they will feel after that. Help them paint a mental picture of how their future looks like if they keep using your product for a long time. Make them feel certain that the outcome they want is the outcome they’ll receive from you.

Engaging with customers

There’s a classic advice that goes “once you’ve made the sale, stop selling”. Well, let me break the news for you: getting someone to use your product one time does not mean you’ve made the sale. Getting them to come back a few time or even pay for your product doesn’t mean you’ve made the sale. You can consider that you’ve made the sale once your user is pitching your product or service to other people better than you would, and sometimes not even then.

Keeping your customers up to date with your offering and your advantages vs other competitors is a must. People get an alarming amount of information each day on several products and services. Yours is not special. Customers will forget your mission and values in no time if you don’t make a point to keep pitching.

But engaging is not only about speaking up. It is also mainly about listening. Once you are talking to your customers, get feedback from them. Understand what drives them to your offering, what are they trying to achieve, how can you better help them. If you build a relationship, customers will tell you which other products or brands are your allies, which brands are your foes, and how to bring and engage even more customers like them. Marketing is mostly about listening. Empathy. Understanding your customer needs will skyrocket you to success. People are eager to tell you what they want if they trust that you’ll listen and help. Don’t drop the ball here.

Analyzing and implement feedback

Now, if you got to this point, it’s time to process all the feedback you got from your users and do something about it.

The first thing you need to know is that people don’t usually express negative feedback. For every customer tells you where you can improve, there may be thousands of others that agree but are not brave enough to be candid. Never underestimate a user feedback just because “he’s the only one that thinks that way”. Feedback is a gift that your users are giving you. It takes time and energy to give feedback. Appreciate it. Go back to your office and make improvements. Adjust your offering, better your product, reduce pricing, improve quality.

And, by all means, let the people you’ve received feedback from know what you did about it! And share that with other customers too. Embrace every opportunity you have to let your customers know that you are listening. Knowing that you took feedback and made changes is extremely powerful.

Final thoughts

As you must have realized, there’s much more to marketing than just getting more customers. Marketing is a holistic approach to doing business. I hope this basic guide helped set you in the right direction. If you have any feedback, thoughts, or topics you’d like me to write about, get in touch!