3 Simple Rules of Successful Marketing

Regardless of the game, you are playing, it’s vital to know the rules if you want to succeed.  Without the rules as a guidepost, you will be inefficient, make mistakes and frustrate the other players.  That is certainly true of marketing your organization. You need to know the rules of the marketing game if you want to flourish.

And while some people might tell you that they want to be a “rule-breaker” and “think outside of the box,” it’s important to understand the rules before you try to break them.

3 Simple Rules of Successful Marketing…that many organizations miss.

While there are tons of tactics and rules around marketing, we are going to start with these basics.  Like building a house, if you don’t have the foundation right…the whole structure will ultimately crumble.  Many organizations sprint from fad to fad to game the attention of their audience.  And it’s great to stay up on marketing trends!  But when you can combine that with a solid foundation, you really have something to build on.

Know Your Customer

Let me just state it plainly, if everyone is your customer then no one is your customer.  We all have limited budgets.  No organization that I know has unlimited time and resources to reach “everyone.”  And yet so many businesses today act as if they are trying to reach everyone.  It’s great if you have a product or service that you think can help everyone.  But you can’t reach everyone.  So it’s incredibly important (and valuable) to spend the time to segment your market into smaller groups.

Who is that ideal customer?  Where do they shop?  What are their hobbies?  Where do they live?  Here are 10 questions to ask in order to dig in.

Once you really have a handle on who your ideal customer is, you have the ability to really create a marketing message (and a product for that matter) that serves them.  Sometimes the perfect customer of your organization is you.  But so often it’s not.  So it’s important to dig in and do the research.  This will allow you to understand what they read, what social media they consume, the conferences they attend…and more.

When you really know your customer you can create marketing that reaches them right where they are.

Make the Customer the Hero

I love this concept from Donald Miller’s amazing book “Building Your StoryBrand.”  As Miller points out, so many of us make ourselves the hero of the story.  Our marketing message is all about us.  “We have been in business for XYZ years”. Or “we have won this and that awards.”  But our customers really don’t care about that…we do.  Our customers care about whether we can solve their problem.  They have come looking for a solution.

The best marketing messages invite our customers into a story where they are the hero.  We are the guide.  We want to show them that our service, product, and message are all about helping them succeed.  Our organization will simply help them do it.

By making the customer the hero of the story, we invite them into a story they want to participate in.

If You Confuse You Lose

Simplicity is incredibly important in our marketing message.  Bill Petrie and I discussed this on a recent Promo UpFront podcast.  Consumers are willing to pay more for brands that make their choices (and their lives) easier.

But maybe more important, if your customers and prospects don’t understand your offering, they will just move on.  There are plenty of other fish in the sea!  When a customer or prospect lands on your webpage (or other marketing messages) and they are not sure that you solve their problem, they will leave.  It’s that simple.

As Miller talks about in the book, your marketing needs to explain what you do so that a caveman can understand it…immediately.  If there is any confusion (or other sources of friction) the prospect is very likely to move on.  You never get the chance to tell them your story.  You don’t get a chance to explain.  They are gone.

Now make no mistake, creating a simple marketing message is hard.  Every organization is complex.  Boiling it down to a few words can be really difficult.  But it’s worth your time to do the work.  What do you do?  What problem do you solve for the customer?

If you can answer that question simply, you have a better chance of breaking through the noise…and inviting them into your story.

These are 3 simple rules of successful marketing.  And if you are able to master them, you not only have a great foundation for your marketing.  You are also likely well ahead of most other organizations in your space.

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Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.