How to successfully promote any business or product (even if you’re not a marketer)

Marketing Plans

6 min read

Gavin Cooper

As a managing director or owner of a small business you need to promote your business in order to generate interest, leads and ultimately, sales. However, often resources are limited (financial and human), so how do you do it? In this article we use the strategy explained by Simon Sinek in his Ted Talk, to explain how.

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For decades we’ve been bombarded with hundreds of messages everyday all competing for our attention, and the information age has made things worse, a lot worse.

In order to stay sane, the human body adapts to limit the stuff we pay attention to. This is called selective filtering and means we only pay attention to stuff we think is important, or may harm us. It’s linked to the part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System

Let me give you an example…

flat design man with backpack on red bike

The Recticular Activating System in our brain means we filter out stuff that’s not important

It’s your birthday and you want a red bike. You can’t remember the last time you saw a red bike, but now you’ve told your brain it’s important I guarantee you will notice all the red bikes you come into contact with.

For marketers this means if consumers don’t have the specific need or problem that you’re interrupting them with, at the specific moment they have it, they’re simply going to filter it out.

It doesn’t matter how good your business is, it simply won’t work if it isn’t relevant.
In today’s overgrown jungle of stimulus there’s never a better time to go back to basics to understand how to get our message heard.

So, how do you reach people and get them to listen?

When you’ve finished reading this article you’ll know EXACTLY how to promote your business effectively without wasting £££ on mass scattergun marketing.

Step 1 – Understand why ‘mass marketing’ doesn’t work anymore

In the early days mass media made it easy to promote a business – companies simply bought advertising space on TV or radio. And it worked!

Why? Because mass media was new and exciting – people paid attention to it. It was the shiny new thing to play with.

Companies got their message heard by advertising on mass communication channels like TV or radio.

simple outline of machine gun sprays the word messages

Untargeted marketing using generic messages that is aimed at the masses doesn’t work anymore

They targeted the largest group in the adoption curve, ‘the middle ground’ made up of the early majority and late majority in order to get the most bang for their buck. What’s more, the message also had to be generic enough in order to appeal to as many people as possible.

But it worked…

Ads created demand, which sold products and created profit. Companies then used the profit to purchase more ads, and so the cycle continued.

flat design graphics showing beer advert selling bottles of beer that generate profit

Mass marketing advertising created demand, which in turn generated profits to buy more ads

However after decades of broadcasting messages to the middle ground it is exactly this group who have become experts at ignoring them.

Put another way, the information age has given consumers too many choices and too little time to give a (insert your chosen word here). They simply don’t care.

By consistently trying to interrupt people with generic messages, they will at best ignore you and at worst be annoyed by you.

The bottom line is generic mass messaging is ineffective and wastes marketing budget.

So how do businesses get heard?

Step 2 – Don’t blend into the background, be ‘remark-able’

First thing to do is figure out something REMARKABLE to say because people are tired of hearing the same old stuff.

The most successful businesses are the ones that stand out by saying or being remarkable.

Being remarkable literally means something worth making a remark about (remark-able).

Most businesses try to quantify this in a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – something that once a consumer has decided they need your solution, defines you from your competition.

Here’s some good (and bad) examples of USPs.

However being remarkable goes one step further, it is saying or doing something so out of the ordinary that it demands attention.

Here’s some personal favourites of remarkable brands…

Dollar Shave Club

This was a totally unique proposition never seen before – for a ‘dollar’ a month subscription you could receive shaving blades in the post. Not only was this unique, but the proposition promised to save you a fortune compared to traditional razors. The viral launch video was fantastic, it helped to propel this brand to $1 billion cash buyout from Unilever in 2016.

Red Bull Stratos

The energy drink created by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz has long been revered for its marketing campaigns, but when they linked with Felix Baumgartner freefall jump from 24 miles above the earth back in October 2012, in my opinion they captured something special. Sales jumped 7% that year to $1.6 billion in the U.S, and the campaign also raised the brand’s profile; helping them to break into new markets in Brazil, Japan, India and South Korea.

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

We’ve had countless brands selling soap in the past, but none that managed to empower women’s view of beauty like Dove has. The results were pretty remarkable – research commissioned by Unilever and carried out by Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff concluded that more women today define beauty on a wider array of qualities beyond looks, with Dove playing ‘some small role’ as quoted by Steve Miles, senior VP-global marketing. The campaign started with an anti-photoshopping video that went viral, watch it below.

Step 3 – Tell the people who are listening

So who do we talk to? We can’t MAKE the ‘masses’ listen, and, even if we did, they would probably ignore us.

The answer? Target the fringes, the ‘early adopters’ and ‘investors’ – these are the guys and girls who are listening and who actually care.

And what’s even better?

They actually LIKE listening because you are talking their language, you are talking about them and who doesn’t like that?

multi coloured adoption curve graph

The standard adoption curve graph shows how new ideas or products disseminate through the wider population

Build authority with your customer group

Start with social media – it’s a great way to reach people relatively cheaply.

Publish and share valuable content in order to build authority and trust. Valuable content is the stuff consumers find really valuable because it’s free, they can consume it relatively quickly and most importantly they can action it to provide some sort of tangible positive result. Becoming an expert is the quickest way to finding and winning over the support of your early adopter group.

Answer customer questions and comments

Once you’ve published your content and created interaction, make sure you engage with them – or in other words answer their comments and questions. A recent study reported 9 out of 10 consumers believe businesses should answer questions on social media but only 25% actually do – and 43% of those expect an answer within 60 minutes.

Understand their behaviour

You need to immerse yourself in your customer group in order to truly understand what type of people they are. Where do they hang out online? How old are they? Are they male or female? What value do they get from your businesses? How do you help solve their problem or pain point? Once you understand them and their behaviour you can develop ways to build your sales funnel.

Step 4 – Make it easy for them to tell their friends

Once you’ve communicated your message to those who are listening, you have to make it easy for them to share your message. Here’s some incentives for encouraging sharing.

  • Group Deals – this was a novel idea back in 2011 and Snoop Dogg made headlines back then with his own group deal linked to “Shop Snoop Now”. Each day a product was selected for the special group deal and for every Facebook ‘like’ the product received, the price went down.
  • Offer Exclusivity – commonly used in the music industry, the ‘share to reveal’ tactic promises early access to content before anyone else if you ‘share’ the product first.
  • Increase Product Value – When Dropbox launched they relied on paid advertising to spread the word, but they soon needed a less expensive way of getting customers to talk about their service. They launched an incentive linked to their cloud storage business that gave away half a gigabyte of storage for each friend who signed up.

In summary your incentives need to be of high perceived value by your customers, be unique and be socially acceptable – for example there’s little chance you’re going to have hundreds of shares for your nail fungal product.

I hope you find this article useful. If you would like to send a message, view current work or join the discussion, please visit the contact us page.

Alternatively if you would like to discuss how we can create your marketing plan with you, you can register for a free consultation.

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