Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Make Difficult Marketing Questions Easier to Answer

To develop a successful marketing program for your business, you must make some critical decisions, and those decisions require you to answer several difficult questions.
  • What kinds of organizations will make your best prospects?
  • What individuals in those prospect organizations will be the target audience for your marketing programs?
  • What "arguments" will you use in your marketing messages and materials to persuade potential buyers to purchase your products or services?
  • How will you demonstrate the return on investment that your products or services will deliver to a prospective customer?
  • What marketing channels will you use to communicate with your target audience?
How you answer these questions will define the shape of your marketing program and largely determine how successful your marketing efforts will be.  These questions are never easy to answer, but you can make the job a lot easier if you will first take the time to thoroughly understand and describe how your products or services create value for customers.

If you've ever watched someone install a tile or hardwood floor on a home improvement TV show, you may remember that the installer spends a great deal of time making sure that the first row of tiles or boards is straight and square with the walls of the room.  After the first row is in place, the rest of the installation goes fairly quickly.  That's because as long as the rest of the tiles or boards "fit" with the first row, the whole floor is almost guaranteed to turn out right.

A clear picture of how your products or services create value for buyers is like that first row of floor tiles or boards.  It provides the reference point for the decisions you will make when designing your marketing program.  Understanding how you create value will make it easier to determine who your best prospects are, to identify the individuals you need to market to, and to craft your marketing messages.

To understand and describe all of the significant ways your products or services can create value, you'll need to answer another set of questions.
  • What are all of the significant reasons that people have for purchasing a product or service like yours? What problems or needs motivate the buying decision?
  • What kinds of organizations are likely to have the problems or needs that underlie these reasons to buy?
  • Who within the prospect organization is affected by each problem or need?  Who has the most to gain if the problem is solved and the most to lose if it isn't?
  • What specific outcomes are these people seeking?
  • What features of your solution will produce these desired outcomes?
  • What will the economic benefits be if these desired outcomes are achieved (lower costs, increased revenues, etc.)?
The best tool for collecting and organizing this value information is called a customer value map or a customer value matrix.  We have a customer value matrix template that we use when working with clients on new marketing projects.  If you'd like a copy of this template, send me an e-mail at ddodd(at)pointbalance(dot)com.

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