Businesses know they have the opportunity to represent many things to a customer. Convenient (7 Eleven). Innovation (Apple). Friendly (Virgin Mobile). As part of the process of buying and selling businesses are constantly educating consumers. Savvy businesses are aware that when a consumer thinks about a business, they engage in a relationship where ask themselves “what can this business do for me?” “how can they solve my problem”. When you’re educating people, you’re helping them understand the benefit of a solution1.
Businesses make the mistake of trying to “tell” masses information about themselves (products, attributes, features, size etc) rather than explaining how they can improve their life as a result of their purchase with them.
Brands teach quickly
Consumers are time poor most of the day. They come into contact with many things in a day - family, friends, colleagues, clients. Then there’s Facebook, Twitter, online or TV news and emails. And that’s all before the 9 o’clock in the morning! Marketing create “brands” to relieve people of the burden of trying to find time. They create mental shortcuts for people to learn very fast what businesses are about. Businesses can use branding to educate consumers on:
- What they stand for (core philosophy)
- Why they exist
- Who they wants to cater to/service
- That they are trustworthy
- That they knows their stuff
- And that they are ready to help in a meaningful way.
Once a business has answered these questions, they have started the journey of educating their customers, that’s just part of the picture sorted.
Crafting your core messages
As we’ve previously mentioned, Marketing is a communication tool that exists across everything a business puts out there to the world. A clearly defined business prepares only the core messages for a society of time poor consumers.
What are the kinds of things businesses need to educate?
In this week’s One Week At A Time, Brett discussed the most important areas that a business uses to teach, they are:
- Brand Name.
Check that it doesn’t mean anything derogatory in another market or another language that could affect your business. Also ensure it’s not too obscure that people won’t remember the name.
- Brand Promise.
What does your business stands for? What sets them apart?
Don’t fall in the trap of writing a “tag line” and hoping that will work. The whole business needs to live up to what it says. Superior customer service? Ensure every customer interaction makes that true. A brand promise is your promise to the customer that you can live up to, which explains your niche in the market. It is written as a paragraph, and it is also reflected in the business tag line.
- Directional Information
Where you are located, your operating hours.
Contact details (general enquiry, head office, complaints etc).
- What is available in your business?
List of the products/services, by benefit. Here is where a lot of businesses fall over with a long list of information. Look for what your business can package to make a positive customer experience.
- What are the benefits of the product/service (“what’s in it for them”).
Key points to support each product/service (fastest, cheapest, most premium, convenient etc).
- Suggestions on what is best for them to buy.
Match the product with what the customer will most need from that product.
For example, is the business able to offer seasonal purchases (Christmas, Easter) or occasional purchases (birthdays, anniversaries)? How about “ease of use” purchases (vacuum cleaners, appliances, technology)? Peace of Mind purchases (plumbing, electrical services, therapeutic services etc)?
- How to buy from you?
Online payment gateway, PayPal, cheque, money order, cash only, limited on credit cards, minimum purchases, pay-per-play, invoice terms. Believe it or not, but there are loads of different ways a customer is asked to pay for a purchase!
Spread the word. Everywhere!
Core messages are translated and repeated across the entire business. They can be instilled in customer service scripts, point of sale flyers, service vehicles, websites.
Depending on the purpose of the material a business may want to emphasise a new product launch, new service delivery method, broader product range, announcing an improvement in the business, updated website, additional payment method....whatever it may be, the core messages will keep revolving in various forms around your customers and prospective customers.
Marketing at it’s simplest is all about spreading the word into the market. Use all the available channels you have budget for - staff, building/office space, cars, online, social media, databases, events, print, radio etc. And remember to say it once, say it twice and say it again!
Educate the business first
Richard Branson said “education is the most powerful weapon to change the world”2. He instilled this philosophy through every brand that he created (Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Brides). His businesses educated consumers on their core messages through staff, websites, videos, social media, branding and advertising. But he didn’t start with sending the message OUT first. He started with sending those core messages inside his business first.
Consumers come second in the journey of marketing education. That does sound very counter-intuitive to Business Leaders. Aren’t we taught that we always put the customer first? Isn’t the customer always right? Yes....and no.
For a business to be truly successful everyone in that business needs to learn the core messages to ensure the whole business are “singing from the same hymn sheet”. The same goes for all those on management levels, these messages are not created only for the benefit of customer service and sales staff.
When every person in the business have learned the core messages and have adopted them, then a business be able to naturally (and easily) respond to customers and their enquiries. That is why employees are the first priority in hugely successful businesses like Virgin3.
At times, it may feel as though there is a mountain of information to develop before a business can start the business of selling. That is true - there are a lot of things that need to be said.
The success of marketing comes from focussing on what’s important and deciding when and where are the best times to say it. That’s why we say that marketing educates. A great business takes each customer, individually, on a series of short journeys, explaining the solutions along the way.
Levinson, J. C., 1993. (p26) Guerrilla Marketing Excellence. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, New York. USA
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