USP

Is Marketing More Than a Good Ad?

Marketing Strategy

Marketing is an ad. Marketing is a brochure. Marketing is a press release. And more recently, Marketing is a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, or a Twitter stream. At least, that is what many SMB owners think. But in reality marketing is strategic, not tactical.

Marketing sits at the intersection of the business and the customer, so it makes sense that most businesses seek out new and innovative ways to attract customers. Although some tactics like a new website, online marketing, videos, and brochures may initially attract customers to your business, resulting in a “boost” in the short term sales, I can guarantee that ad hoc, reactive tactics do not have long-term growth results.

Let’s face it, customers are fickle and with thousands of options and competitors out there, businesses today not only have to attract the customer, but build loyalty to keep that customer coming back.  Brochures and even websites alone do not build customer loyalty, your brand and brand values build loyalty.  Branding is part of the process involved in a marketing strategy.

Sometimes a business owner understands that they need a more permanent solution to their marketing and sales growth, but they are not exactly sure what they need. In the world of marketing there is only one true answer to increased growth and that is to have a marketing strategy.

A good marketing strategy will:

  1. Begin with a competitive analysis – The primary goal is to analyze your competitors to find out their strengths and weaknesses so that you can make knowledgeable decisions about your marketing strategies and set the stage for creating your unique selling proposition. Understanding customer needs, wants, buying habits and future industry trends may also be included in the analysis.
  2. Define your audiences – Clearly identify whom you will be targeting with your product/service.
  3. Define your unique selling proposition (USP) – The primary goal is to clearly define what makes your product/service unique and stand out from your competitors.
  4. Create a brand identity – The goals here is to outline what value your brand has in the market place, what values it provides to your customers and what colours, tone and overall look your brand should have that best reflect your USP.  This is much more than a logo.
  5. Create a tagline to support the brand. The new tag will reflect the direction of the brand and emphasize the expertise of the business. This tag along with the logo will effectively position the brand in the minds of the target market by creating a unique identity.

 As you can see, there is a lot of thinking and planning that goes into the development of a marketing strategy and none of it involves creating a brochure or website. Like building a house, your marketing strategy is your foundation, and we all know what happens to a house without a solid foundation!

Do you feel that you need a marketing strategy, or have you built your marketing without one? Have you ever hired a marketing company to create a marketing strategy? If not, why and if so, how was it helpful? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

How To Create A Unique Brand In Five Simple Steps

Differentiating your brand in a global market where businesses compete for a piece of the pie can be a daunting task.

For SMBs, who often feel their competitors seem to be selling approximately the same services/products, your unique selling proposition (USP) becomes more important as a way to stand out, and build a reputation based on a “special” difference.

As the owner of a marketing agency focused on helping small and mid-sized businesses succeed through strategic planning, I’d like to share some of the branding knowledge, specific to creating a successful USP, that I have gained over the years.

These steps will lay the groundwork that you need to help you make the most of your marketing and business planning activities.

Before we begin, let me clarify the term USP. A USP is a summary of what makes your business unique and valuable to your target market.  It answers the question: How do your business services/products benefit your clients better than anyone else’s?

Step 1: Analyze Your Competitors

Look at how other companies use their USPs to their advantage. Analyze other companies’ ads and marketing messages.  If you analyze what they say they sell, and not just their product or service characteristics, you can learn a great deal about how companies distinguish themselves from their competitors.

Step 2:  Solve a Problem

Armed with the knowledge of how your competitors distinguish themselves,now you can clearly identify what sets you apart. This step involves looking at your business from your prospective clients’ or customers’ perspective, to identify what the problem, need or challenge is that they face, and then outlining how your service/product can solve it for them.

Step 3: Big Benefits

Now that you have identified how your business solves a problem, list a few of the biggest benefits of working with you. Explain why your services are important to your customer, and why they should choose you over another provider.

Step 4: Your Target Audience

This is a trickier step than you might think, as your target audience is NOT simply everyone who buys your product/service.  Since we all enjoy a good fishing analogy, here’s one as it relates to USPs: If you want to catch salmon, then you need to use a specific fishing net. Otherwise, if you try to catch salmon using a huge net, although you may catch a few salmon, you are more likely to catch trout, sturgeons and tench. Think about what you’ve identified in steps 1 to 3, and then be as specific as you can when identifying your target audience for your service/product.

Step 5: The Pledge

A big part of a successful USP is making a pledge to your clients.  This is a promise of sorts, which clearly states the type of promise or guarantee that you will provide to your clients. This could be a statement that you can either publicize or simply keep internally. Either way, it is a statement of your commitment to your USP. For example, in Toronto, we have a pizza delivery service that promises to deliver your pizza in 30 minutes, or it is free.  This promise speaks volumes to customers about the type of commitment they are making to their customers, and the value they place on customer service.

Using specifics to identify what makes your business unique and valuable to your target audience is unquestionably one of the most important and valuable processes your business will ever undertake.  When you can clearly state how your business services/products benefit your clients better than anyone else’s, then you are well-positioned to differentiate your brand and develop strategies for business growth.

Do you have a USP? If not, do you have any questions about how to create one?  Is your USP incorporated into all of your marketing activities? Let me know in the comments below.