When you need to set your business apart from the competition, marketing becomes more than just a tool for getting your products and services out there. It’s the language you use to speak to your consumers directly – to associate what you do with emotions and aspirations, and to start carving out a niche for your company in a playing field already packed with alternative vendors. So how do you turn what you do into a selling point your consumer can’t ignore?
Make an emotions map
Marketing has many forms – advertising, promotional appearances and giveaways, media spots – but one basic goal: to associate what you do with a positive emotion. All the great adverts do it, and every successful branding exercise is, at bottom line, about turning a product into an emotive object or a service into something that can facilitate a specific kind of life.
Draw up an emotions map so you can see how your products or services could be aligned with the kinds of feelings you want your customer to feel: empowerment, desirability, success. Use the map to guide your marketing over the next year. If a campaign or advertising initiative doesn’t clearly fit the emotions you have identified, modify it until it does.
Make new friends
Social media is a cost effective and highly productive way to connect with new consumers. It does require an investment in time and understanding, however – so be prepared to work at it with no obvious headway for a while. The investment pays off when your social media presence begins to generate traffic of its own accord. The key here is to manage your expectations. Don’t imagine that your posts will go viral overnight, and wait at least six months before your involvement in a site begins to pay off.
The science of influence has been well documented. In essence, influencing is about getting your consumer or your business partner to do things you want without directly asking them. If you can learn the secrets of influencing, your consumers will believe they have discovered your product rather than had it sold to them – and your business partners will align themselves with you to benefit from your authoritative position within your industry. Networking is the key: identify the five most influential figures or brands in your area, and begin to interact with them on social media streams.
Branding is the most obvious emotional element in your promotional arsenal. If your company knows who it is and why it exists, it becomes easy for you to manage the tone of voice and purpose of your marketing. If you don’t have strong branding, your promotions lose their coherence. Start by mapping your brand in a brainstorming session. If you don’t know who you are, you need to rebrand.
Make a splash at a trade show
A well designed trade show stand can be instrumental in generating new business, in an environment where everyone is competing for attention. You stand design must work like a three dimensional advert – showcasing your product or service in a way that works for the target audience. Remember that a trade show audience is often made up of business partners as well as potential consumers, so your stand should be capable of showing both B2B and B2C guests what your company can do for them. Have a look at phase-1 for some inspiration.
The Author is an established marketing writer whose blogs and articles are routinely published by some of the most respected business advice pages in the world. He also runs a personal business and marketing blog network, which is seen by more than half a million new visitors every day. He lives in London.