Ah yes, the joy of marketing. And I mean that in a nice way. Honest.
The first thing any home office entrepreneur needs to understand about marketing is the difference between marketing and sales.
Sales is a process that involves negotiating strategies (begging), asking for the sale (begging and groveling) and closing the deal (which may involve begging, groveling and, in extreme cases, whining).
Marketing, on the other hand, is all about spending a great deal of time and money trying to promote awareness of your business in the hopes that you can soon begin the process of begging and groveling for the actual sale—which you will need in order to pay for all your marketing expenses.
These days (these days being a Wednesday and Thursday), there are many options for marketing, too many to get into here, so I want to focus on simple, proven strategies than anyone on a limited budget, with limited time, a limited wardrobe, and limited attention span, can accomplish.
Now where was I was? Ah, yes, how to market. First (because it would be silly to start second), you must focus on your product’s benefits, not features.
For example, consider an ad for a Hummer. An effective Hummer ad wouldn’t dwell on the features (ability to crush small buildings and take up three parking spaces at once) but rather the benefits to you, the buyer (if you drive around in a Hummer people will think you have a low self-esteem problem, so they might be nicer to you).
Now you’re probably thinking, “But my product/service has no known benefits!” Relax. Most products have no known benefits. This is why effective marketers focus on that nebulous benefit known as image.
Real marketers understand that when you purchase a running shoe, you’re not really purchasing a running shoe. Or when you order a beer at your local pub, you’re not really ordering a beer. Dropping in for a coffee at your local coffee shop? No you’re not. And if you say, “Am too,” I’ll simply retaliate with a calm, but firm, “No you’re not.”
You see, the sneakers you buy, the beer you drink, and the latte you sip speak volumes about the image you are trying to project, which in turn determines what the rest of the planet thinks about you, how successful you will be in life, what type of underwear you enjoy wearing, how long you will live, whether or not you are a dog, cat or Chia pet owner and, ultimately, whether or not you get a date this Saturday night.
So effective marketers exploit (which sounds like a nasty word, but really only means, “to make more money by taking advantage of less intelligent folks”) this wealth of information in order to convince would-be customers that if they purchase your pine-scented paper clips they will meet the person/dog/goldfish of their dreams, develop the magnetism of the North Pole, and take on various Superhero-like qualities too numerous to enumerate.
Now that you’ve mulled over the image you are trying to convey, you must start spreading the good word. There are many ways to do this, from tattooing your logo onto your forehead to tattooing your logo onto family members’ foreheads. Once you’ve finished this key step of branding your identity, by far the most effective marketing approach is word of mouth.
Word of mouth began many thousands of years ago, when it truly was word of mouth. As in just one word. It all started when Grog said, “Fire,” to his pal Grunk, who nodded sagely and repeated the word “Fire” very slowly to everyone he met, even if he didn’t know what it meant.
Word of mouth marketing is deceptively simple. It starts by telling your brother-in-law what it is you’re working on in the basement. Before long he’s told his buddy down at the bar, who then tells his wife, who tells her best friend Janet, who tells her husband Bob—who just happens to be a police officer, who then shows up at your door ready to arrest you for manufacturing nuclear devices in your home. During the drive to the police station, you’ll have plenty of time to explain that actually you are making new, clear deicers, and that you should have known your brother-in-law would mess up with this whole word of mouth thing because he’s hard of hearing.
Not to worry. As a home based entrepreneur, you’ll need to round up customers wherever you can find them, even if that means pitching your product to the officer driving you to the station. Which is really why word of mouth marketing is so effective, because very few people actually pay attention and pass along the correct information, thus ensuring a steady, if somewhat confused stream of customers knocking on your door—if for no other reason, to make sure that your are not making nuclear devices in their neighborhood.
By now, you can see that the entire process of marketing truly is a joy. So start spreading the word, sit back, and wait for the police/customers to arrive.
Copyright Michael Kerr. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, trainer, and author of six books, including Inspiring Workplaces and The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. www.HumoratWork.com
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