Busting the Marketing Myth

When I come to think of it, I’ve been in and around marketing for a very long time. I started my first ‘business’ when I was just 16. I had been learning martial arts, under the instruction of my father, since I was 7, so at the age of 16 I started my own martial arts class, teaching a lesser-known art called Hapkido. I probably didn’t realise at that time but this is when I first began to think, learn, test and experiment with marketing messages designed to attract paying customers.

Like most other ‘business people’ I knew what my product was all about – my father was, and still is, the most senior exponent of this art in the country, so I was immersed in the daily conversations about the subject. However, I knew nothing about marketing and certainly nothing about the mechanics of finding out what would attract people to buy my instruction and knowledge.

Over time, I began to get good results and for a number of years I continued to teach twice weekly classes, most to adults, and enjoyed the experience and responsibility of this. This wasn’t a business designed to get rich quick; in truth it paid for my weekends and helped me top up the tank on my beloved Ford Escort MkII – remember the days when you could fill your tank for £20?! I did have a steady flow of students and took raw talent and helped to produce some stunning Black Belts.

What I realise now, some years later, is that I was learning the very basics of good marketing practice. Today the basic principles have not really changed; there are some very simple rules that can help every business improve the results from their resources focused on marketing. Marketing doesn’t need to be confusing, require years of academic study, or be a mysterious black art. In fact, good marketing can be summed up in this very simple triangle:

Right message
Right person                   Right time

… that’s it..!

This triangle represents the perfect balance between the three main components and over coming blogs I’ll be explaining these in more depth. For now let’s start by looking at this formula in overview.

Whenever I start working with a client I ask them to really get inside the product/service they want to market and think about what the proposition is really all about. This is your message, not your brand or who you are, or what you think makes you unique, just the basic proposition. When people want to buy – and we want people to buy from us, not be sold to – we need to give them a clear proposition. This helps them make an quick and confident buying decision.

Have you, like me, ever found yourself engaged by a brand or product but really struggled to understand what it is they are actually selling? It’s your job to make it simple for the target customer. Help them understand and tell them what to next. No matter what complexity of business you operate in the same principle will be true. Sometime you’ll need a few extra bells as whistles but essentially focus on your message first.

Getting your message to the right person is absolutely critical and over more recent years I’ve found the secret to this – it’s been described as Permission-Based Marketing and I’ll be writing more on this over coming weeks.

Lastly, you need to deliver your message at the appropriate time. This could mean when your message actually gets delivered. I’ve found I can double response rates to email campaigns just by selecting the right time of day. However, more specifically it relates to the right time for the would-be customer. Right now I don’t need to know about the latest offer the local gym has; give me a few more months of eating too much and I could be looking for their services! As with much in business, timing is everything.

So, that’s it. Keep it simple, don’t listen to the pundits who want to bamboozle you with TLA (that’s ‘three letter-abbreviations’ to you and me). Take a step back and ask yourself:

  • What is the ‘right message’…
  • Who are the ‘right people’..?
  • When is the ‘right time’ to tell them..?

Now, go and make your marketing work!

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