The #1 most important thing in your marketing
Yesterday I was in a room filled with passionate start-up founders coming together to learn about how to prepare for investment rounds, find investors and grow their businesses, (which is what my husband and I are doing with our tech startup Tankful).
Over the nearly 3 hours session, there were lots of fantastic questions people were asking and not surprisingly over half of them were marketing related.
How do I create an edge? How do I reach a particular group of customers? How do I drive word of mouth? How do I get free press coverage? How do I get to the top of Google’s search rankings?
There are many “growth hacks” that you can work on to get people’s attention. Many angles you can take. Many tricks that people shared.
But there is one crucial underlining factor that if you get it right, will make all of this a whole lot easier.
Not just growing your customer base but creating real long-lasting loyalty.
Because unless you have created a new market entirely with a disruptive product or service (think Air BnB, Uber or My Food Bag) theres likely to be numerous choices for what you are offering. With any product or service, customers can usually choose from a variety of similarly priced and similar quality products or services.
So why should we choose you?
When you don’t have a clear reason for people to purchase from you over alternatives, then you have to turn to marketing tactics or manipulative methods to persuade sales like competitive pricing, running promotions or creating tension based on fear or aspirational messaging.
These are common and very effective strategies and whilst I don’t discount them altogether if they are all you have they can create a trap for two reasons.
Firstly, you will be stuck needing to continue using these strategies on and off to keep customers returning or new customers coming in the door. And secondly, when people become your customer because of a price drop, promotion or promise of product-related gains it creates a sale but it doesn’t create deep connections and long-term customer loyalty.
How can you inspire action rather than manipulate people to act?
Have a higher purpose at the heart of your business beyond making a profit and...
Share this purpose with your people; let it be the core driver to everything you do in your business from your marketing to the people you hire, the suppliers you work with or the projects you take on.
Simon Sinek puts this perfectly when he says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” He talks about how your ability to prosper as a business is not about what you sell, it’s about what you believe.
Check out his TED talk here.
Businesses which have a purpose to pursue at the core of their business, in addition to making a profit, attract people who want to be a part of that purpose. In fact, one study found that organisations who focused on a purpose had nearly three times the annual growth rate than their entire industry.
Having a clear purpose is more engaging for customers. People want to be a part of an organisation that has a purpose, a vision, and a reason for being. And I’m not talking about slapping a vision statement on your website to check a box, I’m talking about a purpose that clearly drives everything you do.
Your purpose is the backbone of your marketing strategy. Get this right and the rest will become easier.
Your businesses purpose...
So what is your purpose? What is the reason you are in business for? This is where you need to think bigger than yourself and your desire to make money or have a better lifestyle. That is the result you are after, not your purpose (which is fine might I add, this is not about turning all businesses into charities).
Here are some questions I ask small business owners to help shape their higher purpose….
What was the driving purpose, the cause, the belief, the frustration or desire you felt when you decided to create this business or become trained in your skill?
What are you trying to change?
What shift do you wish to make in the people you serve?
If you could change one thing in the world, through your business, what would it be?
Here’s an example...
If your business was selling hampers filled with baked goods, you are not trying to change the gift basket industry. You are not trying to convince people to choose freshly baked goods as an alternative to a bunch of flowers or the wine & cheese basket or convince people to send homely gifts more frequently.
You need to think beyond your product features to the bigger shift you desire.
It could be you are looking to encourage stronger connections by creating a reason for loved ones to come together around the table again. To connect with each other like the ‘good old days’, when neighbours coming together over delicious home-baked goodies were commonplace. When communities raised children and people weren’t in a rush. When the smell of baking wafted through the house and brought the workers in for their morning cuppa. You may believe that people need to slow down and connect again, and by doing so, it enriches their lives, and the lives of others.
This could be the higher purpose of a business selling baked goods hamper: Enrich your life by slowing down and truly connecting with each other.
Then everything you did would be about slowing down and enjoying life together. It just so happens you also sell home baking hampers.
Your purpose is something you might need to shape over time with the goal of creating a purpose statement to use as your guiding compass. Then you can look at creating a set of values, mission and vision statements if you haven’t already.
Once you have your purpose use it to drive the story you tell. Your story is a powerful marketing strategy, not only because stories travel but because they let people into your world, they allow them to connect with you, to feel close to you and what you are up to.
We connect through stories that share similar values and views of the world, regardless of whether you are a thought leader or a brand. If we don’t know what you stand for then we don’t know if we should join your tribe.
Share your purpose through your story and let us be inspired.
Take us along the journey with you.
This way it’s far more likely you'll attract more people and the right type of people to your business/cause.
Enjoy the journey