You see it in most small-to-medium size businesses today. The CEO or Owner, or in some cases Marketing Manager, feeling the pressure of a shrinking pipeline – decides that they must make a better effort to market their organization.
The next step for most is to begin brainstorming the different avenues in which one could advertise. This is a very important step, but a step that should come last. Unfortunately, in our haste to get some type of campaign out into the market we cut some necessary corners for the sake of time.
MARKETING VS. ADVERTISING
The difference between marketing and advertising is simple. Marketing is the strategy, the system. Advertising is a tool to deliver the message, a way to implement the strategy. In a world where most companies are talking just to talk, the companies that invest a significant amount of time to carefully craft their message are the companies with the best results in the long run. It’s not just about spending time creating a clever slogan or play on words, though. Your message should mean something to your target, it should be disruptive enough to get their attention and provide them with an incentive to take action.
Which brings us to the steps. These steps should be your Bible. Study them, print them off, write them in permanent marker on your office bathroom mirror. Just like when you’re cooking your grandmother’s famous marinara sauce, the ingredients and the steps to incorporate the ingredients are of equal importance.
STEP #1: DEFINE THE ACTION
This sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised by how often this step gets mishandled. What is it that you want people to do when they hear your message? Your goal needs to be specific. A phone call to the number provided, a visit to the direct link, a click through to your site, a like on facebook, a retweet. Regardless of the media you’re delivering your message you have to have a clear action that you want taken from your target.
STEP #2: WHO CAN TAKE THE ACTION?
This is your target. The group of people who have the ability to take the action that you’ve defined. Spend some time here. Who are they? How old are they? Where do they shop? What do they care about? What are the value drivers for this demographic? Price, quality, convenience, are three of the most common. Which is most important to your target?
STEP #3: WHAT DO THEY NEED TO HEAR?
This is where it starts getting fun. You’ve made it to step #3. You did your research, you reviewed the research, you’ve defined your action and your target and now…it’s time to craft your message. We’re going to take it one step further, strategically.
What does your target need to hear in order for them to feel like it’s in their best interest to take the action you want them to take?
It’s all about your target. What’s in it for them? Your messaging has to be powerful enough for your target to picture themselves in a more positive light by using your product or service. There are many ways to frame this message, which is a whole separate subject itself. You get the point though. If you don’t have a powerful message…save your money and don’t advertise until you do.
STEP #4: WHO DO THEY NEED TO HEAR IT FROM?
In some cases the perspective of the message can be as important as the message itself. This is where social media can play a huge role. Have you ever watched a preview for a movie and thought, “That looks terrible, I’ll wait ’til it comes out on Netflix.” Only to see two or three friends on Facebook say that they loved it and have it change your opinion? Or, a different preview for the same movie in which they include a positive review for the movie. From people we trust, a message can be better received. Endorsements are another example of this form of framing. Consider the source of the message.
STEP #5: DELIVERING THE MESSAGE
Now we get to the delivery system! How has your message changed from where it started before the 5 steps? When considering how to deliver your message review each of the steps quickly to make sure you’re using proper form. Think about the media your choosing from the perspective of the action you want to take place, from your target, and the message itself. For example, if you are looking for website visits it may be more effective to use a digital medium rather than radio, or print. Think about where your target might go to research information about your industry, where do they hang out socially? Would your message be received better visually or through words?
These steps will help give you a strategic foundation regardless of the type of communication you seek.
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