With the season of fireworks and bonfires upon us, here are 5 ideas to make your marketing sparkle.
It sounds odd, I know, to put this in the list. Can sparkle really be created through a good plan? Thomas Edison said: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. Applied to marketing planning what this means is: there’s a fair amount of thinking needed first before you come up with the sparkle.
There’s no point in coming up with what seems like a great idea if you don’t know what it’s there to achieve or what part of the plan it relates to. It will have much more impact too. Consider what you want to put in place, when, what resources you’ll need (time, people, money). If you need to do things on a budget, think of some low cost ideas. If you have a bit of budget to spare, what could you do with a little more investment?
Talking of ideas (and this could be the 1% inspiration!), if you need to generate more ideas, use a classic brainstorming session. I find giving people a pad of post-its and asking them to come up with as many ideas as possible works really well. I recently did this when running a workshop and a team of 11 came up with 80 ideas in 10 minutes!). Use other creative problem-solving tools to generate more novel or radical ideas.
Here’s a video that shows you how to use the pictures as prompts creative problem solving tool tool that results in different and unusual or unexpected ideas.
A good example of a great idea that stuck in my mind, was an invitation to a book launch I received earlier this year – delivered in a box, with confetti, a personal note and a tissue-wrapped copy of the book
I’ve noticed on some recent LinkedIn posts that the more personal my updates, the more views, likes and engagement I get. Coincidence? I don’t think so. One post recently where I used the picture of the Clifton Suspension Bridge on a wonderfully sunny evening after an afternoon’s workshop with a client received nearly 1000 views, 44 likes and 2 comments. That’s more engagement, dare I say, than some of the posts, blogs or articles shared that are more related to expertise or knowledge. For me, showing the personal side is also about authenticity and building relationships – with prospects, clients, contacts, suppliers and referrers.
Emotion is particularly important when your customers are at the start of their buying journey, or at the point when they say ‘yes’ and need some reassurance that they’ve made the right decision.
Related post: Bryony Thomas explains this in her blog on Watertight Marketing website: Are you serving up a Logic Sandwich.
These are the best times to connect with how they feel.
Many businesses are tempted to promote the features of their products or services. Doing this will definitely not make your marketing sparkle. Doing this says nothing about the value that you provide or why you offer what you do. If you struggle to articulate what impact you have, try working in a small team to generate ideas; what words and phrases do you come up with that people feel talk to the value you give, the effect you have, the benefits of what you sell or do? Which of these can you shortlist and which encapsulate the difference your product or service will make if a customer buys it?
Making sure, of course, that it’s believable. If you sell stationery and mention that “it will change your life”, no-one will find that credible. If however you sell outsourced IT services and you say “they will change your life” – that could be believable if your focus is alleviating an IT director’s stress, anxiety, overwhelm as they deal with the pressure of running the IT team; what you do means they can get on with their job safe in the knowledge that you’re supporting them behind the scenes.
The value you provide will therefore help to paint a picture of what it will be like if people buy your products or services. Good ways of showing this can be sharing case studies or helpful, valuable content that relates to how you work or what you provide.
Another way of making the value you provide tangible is to look at the points at which your prospects and customers come into contact with you. Are they ‘ouch’ or ‘wow’ moments? These ‘moments of truth’ as they are called can either convince a customer they’re with the right business or put them off forever.
I’m a big believer in the value of having values. Tenets that run through your business and frame your decisions and how you operate. Whether these are expressed as a public manifesto or internally to staff, their value is unquestionable. They inform the kind of clients you want and choose to work with. They help determine what kinds of employees will want to work with you and who you recruit. They underpin your approach to marketing and business development. And help to show your personality and that what you’re saying about how wonderful you are is not skin deep.
One way to express your point of view is to focus on questions your customers might ask and create a debate or offer an opinion. I work as an outsourced marketing director for a financial services company and having had a workshop to discuss their content plan, we came up with the idea of a tongue-in-cheek look at the annual autumn budget. There’s usually a plethora of post budget opinion from all manner of advisers, so they decided to offer a pre-budget opinion on what they thought would be covered by the Chancellor in his statement. A bit of humour, some serious points and what they wrote was a much more engaging piece that the standard comment and opinion.
Call me for an initial chat over a coffee to talk about how you can step things up and have more impact.