Marketing Strategies: What do you need to know to avoid wasting time and money?

By John Aberle | Small Business Management

Jun 03

What does sales and marketing strategy have to do with knowing how to make a profit? Frankly, a lot. Very few businesses succeed without some sales and marketing program. When I was a child, the story was that the founder of The Hersey Company, who made Hershey’s chocolate, refused to ever advertise. Well, if you watch any TV today, you know they now do incredible amounts of advertising. But the really important question before you invest in advertising or sales is to ask, “what do you need to know to avoid wasting time and money?”

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You need your sales and marketing strategies thought out. There are several crucial steps to take if you want to maximize your ROI or return on investment for your time and money.

1. Ideal Customer Profile – write it out

  • Your ideal customer profile describes your best prospect based on the common characteristics of your best customers. How much do you know about your ideal customer? Why does he buy from you instead of your competition – or instead of doing it himself? What does she really want?
  • In Internet marketing, the most successful marketers actually write out a complete description of just one person and even add a picture and name to that profile because it enables them to focus their writing to that “person’s” specific interests.
  • When you try to appeal to everyone, the risk today is that you will appeal to no one. Just look at the number of magazines, both in print and online, because of the different tastes and different interests of people.
  • You can draw a graphic of the different characteristics like I have here. This one is aimed at small manufacturers to trigger your thinking. It is not exhaustive. You can add more. In fact, when I do this for a client, I will usually have four circles at least.
    • Your Ideal Customer is where these characteristics overlap. The more the characteristics in common, the stronger the potential need.

2. What’s in it for me? (This is your customer speaking.)

  • Before you talk solutions, be sure you know the problems or the desired outcome. What is it that your ideal customer is looking for? Another way of saying this is that everyone asks, “What’s in it for me?”
  • If you want them to be interested in your products and services, speak only to what they want. Smart consultants learn quickly if they want their job to continue running, they need to focus on what you as a client want, not what in their experience they feel you need. Only when they have earned your trust can they propose what additional work they feel you need. Your job with your prospects and customers is to take that same approach.

3. Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – unique to you / unique to their wants

  • Before you can develop an effective unique selling proposition, you must know their problems or desires as well as their wants in order to write a USP that will speak to them.
  • Your USP speaks about what it is that makes you different from everyone else out there with a solution.
  • Remember, a unique selling proposition is only valuable if your prospect thinks it is.
    • One client several years ago was an excellent car salesperson. He loved giving extra value to his customers. The problem was that he felt pin striping his vehicles would make them more unique and therefore more valuable. He, therefore, spent money adding a value that many customers didn’t care about and may even have disliked.

4. Use this Information to Guide Your Marketing Efforts

  • Your keyword choices, your headlines, your content or marketing copy all flow from your knowledge of you ideal customers, their problems, their pains and their desires. These lead to their wants and needs. Focus on what you know about these ideal customers and only them with all your marketing activities, both online and off-line if you want to avoid your wasting time and money.

5. Benefits

  • Many salespeople think they are talking to their customers’ wants and needs by chatting about the benefits their products provide – without first finding out what their wants and needs really are. This is a classic way to lose customers.
  • If you own an Acura 2012 TL, which you plan to trade in when the 2015 comes out, what benefits about new tires will motivate you to spend money on them now? Most likely none. Yet salespeople who do not ask questions will attempt to sell you because they are focused on their needs, not yours. Dare to be different – all the way to the lifestyle you will earn by caring about your customers first.
  • Only when you truly appreciate what your prospects and customers are looking for will you be able reach their hearts by speaking about what they care about.

It’s easy in business to want to just plow ahead and assume that you know what people need and that your product will solve their problems. You want to take a short cut to sales. Most often, the real shortcut is the rout that looks longest. Ask yourself, what do you need to know to avoid wasting time and money? You need to know the following: 1) What is your ideal customer profile? 2)“What’s in it for me?” from your prospect’s viewpoint. 3) How can you make yourself stand out from the crowd based on your unique selling proposition – from the viewpoint of your prospects and customers? 4) Apply what you know about what your best prospects are looking for to guide your sales and marketing strategies. Remember that your benefits are important only to the prospects who are looking for them.

If you would like to get more insight into how to develop customer loyalty programs that will work and reinforce your marketing strategy, check out my interview with Gina Gaudio-Graves, the JV Queen, on “How Can You Use Customer Loyalty Programs to Grow Profits?” A JV is a joint venture, a type of affiliate marketing. Gina is highly successful in Internet marketing. She knows how to create programs build raving fans as she personally has a lot of raving fans.

Building profits through strong relationships,


John R. Aberle, Aberle Enterprises

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About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.