We all want more sales – that’s a given. And yet, so many businesses just don’t seem to understand the marketing basics that drive those elusive sales!

So today, I’m asking you to look at what your business does, and to then ask yourself some really simple questions.

The thing is, that while there are millions of businesses in the UK, selling all sorts of products and services, (and I’m including charities in this equation too!) you might think that marketing needs to be complicated with special sector knowledge in order to drives sales.

Well, it doesn’t. Sure it needs insight and skill, but the rule is the same. There’s the marketplace out there (your potential customers) and then there’s your product or service or charitable offering. That bit rarely changes.

And there is really one question to ask:

What do you need to put in front of your potential customers so they say: “I’d like one of those”, or “we need that service”, or “I’d like to give to that charity”?

Unfortunately, this simple question is not often answered correctly.

Now have a look at the little video clip. (For those of you that have arrived at this blog without reading my email, this is a short clip from ‘Mad Men’ the classic TV series portraying the glamour of the Maddison Avenue advertising agency scene in the 1950’s). The clip is less than 3 minutes and may make you smile!

What’s the point Don is making?

He is asking his client to stop thinking about what THEY want and the whole ‘we’re a family company’ and look at what the CUSTOMER wants or aspires to.

And that is where things usually go wrong. Why? Because in marketing, it’s never about you, it’s always about the customer (and if it’s a service you provide, it’s the outcome people want and not the tools you use!). If that doesn’t make sense, call me and I’ll happily explain it in more detail.

Have a read of these bits of text from some websites I looked at:

  • “We’re passionate about continuing to push the creative, technical and customer care boundaries.”
  • “We ensure customers receive the correct advice first time whilst making certain that cost savings are a priority.”
  • “We get close to our customers’ needs by talking their language and delivering bespoke solutions….”
  • “A refreshing approach to integrated marketing.”
  • “Solution Providers′ clients receive a comprehensive service which covers each phase of the project cycle, complemented by systematic analysis of client-relevant conceptual issues.”

And this IS just the tip of a massive iceberg of terrible website copy! A veritable smorgasbord of self-obsessed marketing mediocrity.

Successful marketing needs to do the following:

• Provide a product or service that is well priced and does what it says it will do.
• Build a brand around your product or service that exudes reassurance for the website visitor
• Deliver on time and keep the customer happy throughout that process
• Maintain an ongoing relationship with the client or customer, so they feel looked after, and continue to feel reassured
• Get things sorted super fast if things go wrong and never be defensive.

Now look at your business and ask if your marketing does these things. And crucially take a look at who is saying them.

Is it YOU, or is it your CLIENTS or CUSTOMERS?

And before you answer this seemingly innocent question think about yourself for a moment as a consumer.

• Why do you choose Waitrose over ASDA?
• What’s your decision-making process when choosing a restaurant in a town you have never visited?
• Who do you ask when you need a plumber or builder?
• When you need a solicitor, what’s going to be the deciding factor?
• When you want to give a donation to a charity, what sways your decision?

The people that you hope will buy from your business are the same as you – their motivations, their anxieties and their vacillations. They need to feel reassured, nurtured, sometimes cajoled and always made to feel that the decisions they make are well-founded and they feel comfortable with their discussion.

Time to look in the mirror

Now, have a look at your marketing – and that’s everything that is customer-facing, from the way you answer your phones and how effective your sales process is, to how you look online, the way you manage customer enquiries and complaints and how you then deliver your service or product.

To thrive, you need to be better than the competition – not necessarily the best, just better.

And in a world where nearly everyone claims to be a marketing expert, it can seem like a difficult place.

So we started with a question: Perhaps your marketing is just too dull?

Well, chances are, it probably is! And you’re not getting noticed and, consequently, you’re also not getting the sales you seek.

It’s also not about being flashy, or overly ‘disruptive’. It’s not about guerrilla tactics either.

Crucially, and perhaps reassuringly, it’s often not about spending a lot of money either. It’s about genuinely understanding the question below:

What do you need to put in front of your potential customers so they say: ‘I’d like one of those”, or “we need that service”, or “I’d like to give to that charity”?

If you need a little help answering that question, then get in touch. What’s the conversation going to cost? Nothing.

Finally, if you think charities are any different, think again. They provide a service. The service is funded by donations. The difference is that it’s not the end-user that pays for the service. And just like your business, you need to work harder than ever before to keep profitable.

Thank you for reading and if you found this blog of interest, why not share it with a friend or colleague?