ask me, "How do I get started? Where do I begin with
I often see businesses
spend a great deal of time and money on logos, websites,
mailers and other tangible items, only to regretfully
discover later that they somehow missed the mark.
To create a business-generating
marketing program, the first direction to go is inward.
Before you create your outward-reaching promotional materials,
you've got to get a fix on your internal Core Marketing
Message - in other words, what value are you selling,
and why should anyone care?
Once you walk
through the process of identifying your Core Marketing
Message Platform, it becomes much easier to create all
of the "goodies" of marketing - logo direction
becomes clear, the website flows, taglines pop to mind,
marketing strategies hum. Your Platform is exactly that,
the springboard for everything else.
So before you think
about colors, design, what to write in your brochure or
website, start with the following questionnaire. TIP:
Your answers don't have to be perfect. Just jot down the
first thoughts that come to mind and go back later to
refine it until your Platform rings true for you.
WHO is your target
market? Think of your best clients - list the qualities
that make them ideal. This is your wish list, so no holding
back. If it's important that they are pleasant to work
with and have the means to pay you well - say so now!
What is their specific title or profession? Can they be
categorized easily? List every important quality you can
come up with. Consider geography, gender, age, income
level, values, interests, etc.
target market is small business owners who provide professional
services such as accounting, architecture, engineering,
IT, coaching, consulting. They operate their businesses
with a high degree of integrity, they value building relationships
with their clients and they are interested in growing
their companies. Also, they are enjoyable to work with
and they appreciate a good laugh!
do your potential buyers face? List 5 distinct problems,
issues, pains, predicaments, challenges, worries, fears
- even if they seem unrelated to the services you offer.
Write these succinctly and clearly.
How does your
service SOLVE these problems? For each of the 5 problems/pains
listed, spell out your solution - what results do you
produce; what can your clients expect to get out of your
work with them? Don't just list your services here. Instead,
specify the end-result benefit they will receive.
the problem is, "They never have enough time,"
your response to that might be, "My services take
the pressure off my clients and give them less to deal
with." (Notice that this could apply in just about
any industry!) The solution is not your service per se,
it is the time-saving result your service translates into.
gratification do your clients get from your services?
Sounds corny, but no matter what your business is, if
you are serving people, you need to be able to tap into
the emotions that motivate them.
clients feel a sense of "pride" because they
have improved skills; "confidence" that they
will provide better outcomes for their own customers;
"relief" that they will more easily meet some
legal requirement, "joy," etc.
What are the UNIQUE
advantages of your service over your competition?
Let's talk about differentiation - what makes you stand
apart from your competitors? What makes you memorable,
special? This includes your distinct blend of past experience,
your personal philosophies and ways of working with people,
your approach, your values, and simply, just the way you
are. One great place to start - what are some compliments
you frequently hear from other people?
TIP: It can
feel uncomfortable to boldly claim your own special qualities.
It helps to take the focus off of your modest self and
consider your clients - how do they benefit from your
specialness? Put yourself in the shoes of the Jimmy Stewart
character in "It's a Wonderful Life." What would
be different about the world if you were not here? Seriously
ask yourself this question, and your special attributes
will emerge for you.
Now that you are thinking so deeply about your business,
your clients, and how your services bring value to them...
take a stab at writing a direct, 25-word-or-less description
that clearly conveys WHAT you do and WHOM you serve. Bring
in some of the emotional gratification you provide and
the uniqueness of who you are.
my unique blend of marketing experience and coaching skills,
I help business owners build a thriving business without
squeezing the life out of their lives." (Oops, that's
26 words. See? You don't have to be perfect, just take
a good shot at it.)