Why are we making marketing so difficult?
Why do we spend hours agonizing over strategy, branding, and focus when one person has a simple answer to our question?
It’s the customer.
Whenever we get in a jam, we just need to ask the customer. Because they have the answers. Always.
If you don’t think that’s true, here are five examples of how your customer can remove roadblocks in your marketing’s decision-making process.
1. Your customer will tell you what your brand should be
I’m reading Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. It falls into my list of elegant solutions because it’s both ingenious and incredibly simple.
In a nutshell, you create a brand within the structure of the story. Make your customer the hero, make the problem they need to overcome the villain, and portray your company as the sagely guide to lead them out of conflict.
Or more specifically, think of your customer as Luke Skywalker, overcoming the Empire and the dark side of the Force as the problem, and yourself as Yoda.
When you follow Miller’s easy story structure and then clearly communicate how you can help guide the hero (your customer) out of conflict, you’ll be surprised at how easily branding takes care of itself.
2. Your customer will reveal your content marketing strategy
We’ve worked with a lot of different companies in the past. We had two who started on their marketing initiatives at the same time.
The first company had zero marketing personnel, but they had built their solution with a specific customer in mind and homed in on a very specific niche. They easily provided us with a list of happy customers who informed us what was important to them in making decisions.
The content marketing strategy wrote itself, and we are producing great content for them.
The second company has a marketing team yet couldn’t produce a specific customer target. Instead, they wanted to be all things to all people and wanted to talk only about themselves. We struggled to produce focused content that was customer-specific.
Both started at the same time. One looked at the customer, the other at themselves. When you’re targeted with your customers and your products and services, your content strategy reveals itself.
3. Your customers will show you the ideal vertical
You may have a wide range of customers across a variety of verticals. To maximize your marketing efforts, you want to focus on the ideal vertical. Your current list of customers will tell you exactly which vertical that is.
Which customer is your most profitable, easiest to work with, and has the most long-term potential? Which one allows for the most clear-cut niche and gets you excited about creating content for them? Which customer do you like to talk on the phone with, and makes you laugh?
That’s your ideal customer. So market to them.
Now you don’t have to ignore everyone else. Through word of mouth and referrals, you can still get those other customers. But direct all your marketing to that specific niche out of the gates. Then you’ll have a reputation and get the customers you really want.
4. Your customer will edit your content
This is a great exercise and a super-simple way to write content that’s pared down to the bone.
Let your customer edit it.
No, don’t send them a file and ask them to give up their Saturday to copy-edit your manuscript. Instead, put them in your head when you edit content.
When you find any place where you’re talking about yourself in terms other than what directly benefits the customer, eliminate it.
We took a page and a half letter written by a company exec and pared it down to three short paragraphs of copy with clear-cut benefits to the customer.
And not surprisingly, the exec who wrote it loved the edits. It was what the exec wanted to say; he just couldn’t get out of his head. So we let the “customer” do it for him.
5. Your customer will solve all internal disputes
Are you at an impasse within your company on which headline works on a blog post? What’s the right subject line for an email?
The answer is found in the exceptional book You Should Test That! by Chris Goward.
The author’s recommendation is simple: Whoever the competing parties are, just acknowledge they both have great ideas, but then say, “Let’s test it with the customer to find out the results.”
You can then A/B test an email subject line, or use Google Adwords or social media to experiment with different headlines. Or, you can simply get three different customers on the phone, and they will tell you the answer.
Stop making everything so difficult. Put your customer in charge. Then everything else comes easy.