Lesson One: Setting Your Marketing Foundation

Welcome to Lesson One: Setting Your Marketing FoundationIn this post, we're going to cover:
  1. The three "M's" of marketing
  2. How and when to set your Foundation
  3. Examples of how to niche down your three "M's"
marketing-results-triangleSo by now, you might be asking "What's the three M's"...Is it MBA jargon, corporate branding principles, or theoretical "marketing speak"Hardly.It simply stands for:
  • Market
  • Message
  • Media
Seems simple right?Yet if we dive in, I bet most firms haven't thought through what each actually means for their marketing. Now, this isn't some academic exercise...the better (and clearer) you define these items, the better chance you have at running highly targeted, profitable, metric driven marketing.So let's dive in:

Market (Who do you serve)

Your "market" refers to your target market, or simply put, who you serve.This could be broad-based, such as "any person or business within 20 miles of my location", to specific "we're focused on bookkeeping and accounting services for construction companies in Pennsylvania".Generally, the more specific your market, the better.Now, this might be counterintuitive, because by "narrowing" or specifically define your market, by definition, will decrease your target market. But the upside is that you can:1. Craft specific service to meet their needs2. Craft a message that specifically meets the needs of that client3. Spend marketing dollars where you know that client is (online, offline, etc)Many starting out will define their market as "whoever gives me money", which, starting out, is okay. After all, we need to keep the lights on 🙂But as you continue to grow, this "one size fits all" market model will become damaging to your marketing dollars.For example, if you target everyone, look at all the "potential" places you could market:1. Local radio2. Every local paper3. Various business journals4. Multiple conferences5. Any number of direct mail campaignsAnd the most part is, your message (which comes later) will not be as strong because you will be seen as a "generalist" (which often has to compete on price) versus a specialist (who often avoids price comparison).Let's say you just sprained your ankle...Would you rather go to a generalist?Or a specialist.Most likely a specialist, because you trust that they're an expert in the field.Same goes with your market.How to think through your market: So there are a few defining criteria for thinking through your market. Ultimately, you want a mix of clients that are fun to work with, and don't bark at every single price you present to them.So a few things to consider: 1. Which market is not extremely price-sensitive?2. Which market do you enjoy working with?3. Which market are you position to best serve?4. Which market is under(or poorly) served?Ultimately, the choice is yours. You can use a combination of questions, or focus on just one.So let's say you answered the questions as such:1. Which market not extremely price sensitive?Business owners. 2. Which market do you enjoy working with?Business owners. 3. Which market are you position to best serve?Business owners?4. Which market is under(or poorly) served?Not sureYou're on the right track, but it's still a bit vague. Again, feels very much like a "generalist" from a marketing specific.In this sense, I would recommend looking into targeting an industry, or a specific type of business (for example, service business with over $10 Million in sales).Let's say you reevaluate the questions and decide that because you have a strong, core group of business owners that are in the construction industry... you decide to look into defining that as your core "market".And because you want owners that are well established, you want construction companies that have at least $1Million in revenue.Great, we're off to a great marketing foundation.Once you focused on a single market, it's time to create a client avatar.
Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 4.12.26 PM

Client Empathy Map
Now that we have a target market (construction companies doing at least $1M in revenue), we can look into creating a custom avatar of "who" we want to market to.This might "feel" a bit silly, but going through this exercise could provide invaluable insight into what makes your client tick.This helps you position your firm better, create better marketing, and can even assist in defining additional services you'd like to offer. As you can see in the image above, I prefer to use something called a client empathy map. I prefer this technique because it forces us to "walk a mile" in our markets shoes. The goal of the exercise is to get a 360 view of your target client, what they see and hear in terms of their influences, but also what their fears and obstacles are. Nothing in marketing really starts as perfect, so don't be overwhelmed in thinking this exercise, and entire course, needs to provide a "perfect, bulletproof" system. Simply thinking through some of these questions will open the doors to profitable marketing.

(And notice how we haven't even "touched" tactics like social media, email, direct mail, or anything.

This foundation is something that transcends the latest shiny object, and will stand the test of time. )

So as we go through the empathy map, perhaps we find: 1. That many top trade magazines for construction owners constantly talk about how Accounts Receivables and cash flow kills the profit of many companies (i.e. "Hear") 2. That for many owners, they started the business with a sense of pride because they were so good in their trade, but have since distanced themselves from the daily work, and have a hard time managing staff, operations, and everything else that goes on in the "business" (ie Feel) 3. Many owners spend their free time in the outdoors, and you actually see many "outdoor" ads in the trade magazines (say and do) 4. Their biggest fear is losing their company, or being absent from their family. 5. That their dream business is one where he or she can focus on talking with clients about the projects. The more you think through each section, not only does it improve your marketing, it improves your client relationships! You've taken a huge step is really internalizing what they experience every day, which informs every interaction you have with existing and potential clients. Now that we understand our market, we can now look into crafting the ultimate "message" or "Unique Selling Proposition" for them 🙂 Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 4.36.10 PM

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