Category Archives for "relational marketing"

Expensive cars

Marketing Through Status Roles

Here is something you rarely hear about from marketers!  Sales associate strongly with status roles.  This may not be immediately obvious but once you spot it, it is hard to see it any other way.

Class and Status

You may have heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”.  It is worth considering for a moment.  It is an old phrase, from well before the Internet.

Marketers have been aware status roles are important from the earliest times.  It is something we are reluctant to own up to, especially in Britain where we have a lot of anxiety around class.

Class is important, however much we may deny it.  In the UK, we are subjects of a monarch, not citizens.  We still have gentry as well as new gentry, funding their way through investments and accumulation of wealth.

UK people are conscious of gradations of class and even if we don’t care to admit it, most of us are acutely attuned to signals that mark class.

The connections between class and status are complex.  A trade union leader for example may have high status and low-class.

What is important to marketing is our perception of our own status and how it can be enhanced.  I feel it myself, in my desire to do training and read books.

How Does Your Offer Address Status?

  1. Can you think of times when you have made purchases to enhance your status, at least in your own eyes?
  2. How are your offers likely to influence the status of your clients? Is this explicit or implicit?  To what extent might clients consider status when buying from you?
  3. How could you change your offers to appeal to status change?

Status Roles and Ethics

That people consider status when making purchases is outside of your control.  We all do it (except perhaps a few saints, who being saints already have high status!)

Look, I want to be better than anyone else at what I do.  I want to be respected for my contribution.  When I am respected, I enhance my status.  I doubt there is anyone reading this post who can honestly say they don’t experience similar desires.  Some argue these are entirely legitimate aspirations.

Given status is important, how should a marketer react?  They need to be aware of status.  For some, a ruthless appeal to enhanced status increases sales and that’s that.  Coaches perhaps take a little more care.  Someone who hires a coach solely for reasons of status may not use the resulting opportunities in the most constructive way.  You see why the third question is important?  What are the implications of appealing solely to status and are you aware of the extent to which you do so?

Following this fifteenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Spider on water, held there by surface tension

Marketing Through Trust and Tension

We’ve all experienced marketing campaigns that aim to instil fear.  They communicate fear because the marketers are fearful themselves.  Panic selling creates panic buying, in the unlikely event it achieves anything.  Without fear the marketer introduces their market to trust and tension.

Trust, Tension and Action

To sell you need to build two things: trust and tension.  No-one buys from you if they do not trust you.  But equally they won’t buy if they do not experience some tension, something they need and feel they lack.

Ideally, you build tension as you build trust.  The tension part is an obligation on your part, if you offer something of real value.  If you know people benefit from your offer.

How do you build trust?  You cannot take action and build tension without trust.  Usually trust grows as you take action.  As you build tension in your audience, you build trust because you take action.

To build trust you take action

To take action you create tension

Taking Action

  1. Think of a positive experience of marketing (it could be yours or anyone’s). How did they build tension between “That’s what I want” and “I don’t have it yet”?
  2. How do you take action to create tension?
  3. Why should people trust you?

Your Marketing Design

The tension between “That’s what I want” and “I don’t have it yet” is old-school marketing.  Our challenge is to build trust and tension but there is more to it.  You must design your marketing strategy to take into account things like:

  • Pricing and other package details
  • How you engage with prospects and customers
  • The design of your service
  • The story you tell

Your aim is to change your market’s story.  You want people to view the status quo in a different way; to see your offer as an alternative to standard offers.  You seek to bring change.  Change requires action on your part and that action creates tension and builds trust.

Following this fourteenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

One to one over coffee

Four Modes of Business Communication

When business-owners think about how to improve their marketing, they usually focus on products or services.  Marketing is more complex, covering many aspects of business and its context.  Here are four modes of communication to consider:

How do You Get the Word Out?

Imagine a graph with two axes.  They cross and so form four quadrants.  Each quadrant covers one of four different modes of communication.

The first axis – fixed versus variable costs

A fixed cost is not related to the number of people who use or encounter your offer.  So, if you write a book, the costs are the same (time and money) whether it is remaindered or a best seller!

Variable costs relate to the number of people who use them, an example would be pay-per-click ads.  Variable costs include things you must pay every time someone makes a purchase or shows interest.  So, if you hold an enrolment meeting and buy the coffees, that’s a variable cost.

The second axis – media versus user experience

This axis is about what you invest your costs in.  You can choose to invest in media; the businesses you pay to help you get your message out.  These include not only investments such as a photographer, website designer or video producer but support such as your ISP, website host, a conference venue, etc.

User experience is when you invest directly in the people in your market.  It is the money and time you invest in building your tribe and the quality of the service you deliver.

Using The Four Quadrants

Sketch the two axes on a sheet of paper and consider your recent marketing activity.  (Some activities inhabit more than one quadrant.  The aim is to help you think critically about your marketing, not to put everything into tidy categories.)

  1. When you consider your recent marketing activities, do they fall mainly into one quadrant or are they distributed between all four? Or somewhere in-between?  What do you conclude about your marketing?
  2. Consider what you know about your competitors’ marketing. Where do they fall on the four quadrants?  Are you using similar or different approaches to your competitors?
  3. Taking all this into consideration, what new things might you try?

What are the Four Quadrants?

Media with Fixed Payments

These are products produced by professional media people.  The focus here is on publicity, how you get the message out using some medium, eg a video, website, advert, book.  The real challenge is content, if you are to invest in high fixed costs, it is essential to know you have good content.

User Experience with Fixed Payments

This focus is on your story, values and relationship with your customers.  This is something you prepare.  To build a tribe, you must offer something they value.  You may invest a lot of time listening before you act on what you hear.  The important dimension is your marketing design, so you know the message to get across in every situation.

Media with Variable Payments

This covers approaches such as pay-per-click ads.  Any activity where you target a particular group according to their demographics and psychographics.

User Experience with Variable Payments

The emphasis here is quality of service.  It is what you invest to make the user experience as positive as possible, so the message gets around by word of mouth.

You may find as your business grows you are active in all four quadrants because all deliver value for money.

Following this thirteenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Don't give up

The Reasons People do not Choose You

This is the point.  Your marketing is effective when you take on board the reasons people do not choose you.

You’re in a Market Too!

It is easy to forget that as an entrepreneur, you are in a market too.  There will be marketers only too keen to sell you their method or approach to marketing.  Let’s assume they sell tried and tested techniques.  Why don’t they work?

I’ve said this time and again and it is bad news for any entrepreneur.  Most things don’t work.  Why?  Because most things solve the wrong problem.

Choose the wrong technique, implement it efficiently and you are motoring away from the solution you seek.  Several months later, you have spent time and money on an approach that doesn’t work, you have to recover lost ground and then find the right method.  You must understand the problem you face, to find the right solution.  There’s no point in putting yourself in front of people, if your problem is they don’t trust you.

Just as you seek to solve your market’s problem, you need to name your own problem, to find the best way to promote your business.  Your market is as aware of the risks of investing in the wrong message as you are.  Think of your own experiences and ask how you can reassure your market that you can meet their needs.

What’s Your Problem?

  1. Does your market know you exist?
  2. How do you know you really understand their problem?
  3. How can you know your market trusts you?

Most Things Don’t Work

It is important to understand your problem not only because it is difficult or impossible to sell while you have your problem:

  • You can waste a lot of time and money pursuing the wrong solution.
  • If you attempt to cover up your weaknesses by trying a scam,  it will be counter-productive, reducing your market’s trust in you and your offer.  Furthermore, you are likely to reduce trust for everyone in the same market.

Most business-owners are aware they have issues they need to consider, even though they may not know what they are or be mistaken about them.  It is essential you take time to name your problem and find the help you need to solve it.

Following this twelfth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

crowd holding hands in lines

The Social Dimension to Your Market

People with shared worldviews tend to cluster together and become sensitive to what is new in the group.

The Social Dimension

Let’s think about your market and how they relate to each other.  Are there places where they meet?  The aim is not so much to go there yourself, although it may be a good place to develop business relationships.  The aim is to work out how the group develops and maintains its worldview.

They police new ideas, behaviours or products.  If you offer a solution to a problem they share, they must find your solution acceptable.  Some groups may be open to change and so to give something new a try.  Others may resist change, preferring old views to changes that might threaten their interests.

Groups willing to try your approach may move quickly to decide it is not for them.  Others reluctant to try at first, may find it is for them and adopt it wholeheartedly.  You can’t control what happens but you can be aware of what is happening.

 Defining People Like Us

  1. Where do your market meet? Socially or for business?  Online or in-person?
  2. What do they need, fear or desire?
  3. Are they likely to try new things or resist change? How likely are they to stick together when welcoming or resisting change?

Cultural Change

How do you, as an entrepreneur affect cultural change?  You may wish to look back to your promise.  You aim to bring change to your market and this means changing the groups within which your market associates.

It is tempting to think groups never change.  But isn’t it likely they have never encountered an opportunity to change?

Is it possible you are not courageous enough to offer them what they really need?  One day, someone will have the insight and courage to do just that.  Could you be that person?

So, review your offers and ask yourself whether you have an offer that fully addresses the needs of your target market.  Are you playing safe or offering a genuine radical alternative?

Following this eleventh post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Add worldviews to make these avatars!

Using Worldviews and Avatars

To define your market you need three things: their problem, your niche and their worldview.  This post will help you understand worldviews and avatars.

Your Market Definition

Let’s review each of these in turn:

  1. Your market’s problem – this is the problem you solve and so your market is the people with the problem! If there is no problem, there is no market.
  2. However, there will be competition for this market and so you need to decide your niche. Your niche is external factors you impose on your market to narrow it down to something you can target.  For example, you might choose to market those with the problem who live locally to you.  The factors you choose for your niche are sometimes described as demographics.
  3. Perceptions of reality differ. Your market’s worldview is their perception of reality.  Their problem may reflect a perception that needs to change.  Your marketcomprises people who share perceptions and your task is to name just what it is they have in common.

How to Identify Their Worldview

  1. Consider your market and ask: what are the perceptions they hold that might reinforce their problem? How must they adapt to solve their problem?
  2. How does your choice of niche help you understand your market’s worldview? Or does it hinder your understanding?
  3. Is there anything else they have in common that might help them view your offer positively?

Market Avatars

A clear understanding of their worldview is likely to give you an edge over your competition.  It helps you speak from heart to heart and move them to find out more.

It is a good idea to create one or more avatars.  You should not have too many but perhaps your market divides into a few distinct groups.  Your avatar shares the problem, belongs in your chosen niche and experiences their world through their worldview.

Give them a name and be specific.  You may include details that are not strictly relevant but help you relate to the avatar.  You address your marketing copy to this person as you write it.  This helps you bring warmth or humanity to your copy.  Anyone reading the copy will pick up on the warmth without being aware of the avatar behind it.

Following this tenth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

graphic representation of market research

Do You Need Market Research?

Marketing has changed so much over recent years and so you almost certainly don’t need market research.  You do however, need something else.

What’s Wrong with Market Research?

By market research I mean things like demographic data, focus groups and statistics.  These are not without value.  If they are to hand they may help but I would not go out of my way to find them.  Why?

  • Whatever your chosen business, you have competition from people offering something similar to you. They access the same information and draw similar conclusions.  Unless you spot something new in the statistics, you do not bring anything different to the marketplace.
  • To be successful as a coach, consultant or freelance, you need to understand how culture drives your marketing. Successful marketers build relationships with their market and this requires a different approach.

This means selling for money without caring no longer works.  You must care about your customers.

Caring for Your Customers

  1. How do you practice curiosity about your market?
  2. How do you show your market you care about them and their problem?
  3. What insights about your market do you have that give you an edge over your competitors?

Walking in Someone’s Shoes

The key to this is to learn to practice empathy.  Can you see the world through the eyes of someone different from you?  Think of someone who is different, the more different the better.  They need not have anything to do with your market.  Spend a time consciously viewing the world as they might see it.  This should ideally be several consecutive days.

The aim of this exercise is to learn what it is like to walk in someone’s shoes.  Can you do the same for your own market?  They may be more like you than the subject of the exercise.  Do you find this makes it easier or harder to empathise?

Following this ninth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

open hand - what do people want?

What do People Want?

Successful businesses are aware of the wants and needs of their market.  Broadly, wants are desired and needs are necessary.  The original Maslow’s triangle shows needs at the bottom, eg food, accommodation, safety and then spiritual values at the top.  What do people want?  As they become wealthier, people tend to move up the triangle.  You must fulfil each level before you move to the next.

Maslow’s Triangle for Businesses

You may be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  The link goes to a version that applies what businesses supply to Maslow’s triangle.  The idea is once you complete a lower level, the needs kick in from the next.  So, it is something like this:

  1. Functional needs – these are the technical fixes every business needs. Most marketing solutions are at this level.
  2. Emotional needs – these are elements that enhance life by meeting immediate emotional needs.
  3. Life changing needs – these are needs that meet aspirations, eg the changes that people need to make as they approach retirement
  4. Social impact needs – this is about changes in the wider world.

I first encountered Maslow during the 1980s and I remember the story of a nun who, upon seeing the triangle for the first time, commented that it is upside-down.   Once you know your social impact needs you need to think in terms of the changes you need to make, then the emotional needs you need and finally your technical requirements.

It’s easy to focus on the functional and fail to ask why we need to function.  Too many businesses, community and political projects are efficient but not effective.  Motoring down the wrong road at speed is not about making meaningful progress.

What Does Your Market Need?

  1. Think about your market and decide which level they primarily work at? For example, a financial adviser works mainly with people at the life changing level.
  2. Now think about your business. What level do you major at?  Many marketers offer technical fixes at level 1 and yet their market may need adaptive fixes at level 3.
  3. If your business straddles more than one level or needs to, what are the implications for your marketing?

How to Help People Work out What They Want

If your business majors at the functional end, you sell to anyone who rolls up and says they need your product or service.  Perhaps it is not in your interest to find out whether they need it.  That is unless at a later date they decide it does not work and complain.

A lot of online marketing depends on people who do not know what they need, opting for solutions that may be relevant but are not necessary.

Businesses that operate at higher levels are more likely to work out what their customers need.  The customer may not be ready for this but a skilled business owner guides them.  Your challenge is to work out where you are and how crucial to long-term success the way you package your offer is.

Cheaper products are not too crucial.  If someone finds it is not right for them, they can bear the loss.  Expensive products need more care in sales and after-care.  You want customers who use it successfully because your reputation is important.

Many businesses have a mixture of low-end and high-end products and use this business structure to build long-term relationships with their customers.

Following this eighth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Walking the tightrope: always be testing

Some Reasons to Always Be Testing

The key to successful marketing is imperfect action.  I subscribe to slow marketing but not so slow you never make any changes.  The key is to slow down thinking but act quickly and decisively.  So, you must always be testing; trying new things.

What Does Testing Mean?

Online marketing is full of opportunities to measure and test.  There are many testing tools available, eg Google Analytics.  Used properly these are helpful tools but not everything benefits from this approach.

The term “always be testing” applies to a more general approach.  Whenever you try something new, you should understand it is something you are testing.  Whatever action you take to get your offers into the world is a test.

This is a positive mindset.  The results of a test has value.  The fact something did not work, you lost money or looked a bit foolish, is all experience you use to improve your next offer.

Marketing methods are iterative, trial and error.  The alternative is to wait until you have a perfect offer and marketing campaign.  You will wait for a long time.   Trial and error is always faster.

Practical Risk Taking

  1. Think about your life experience. When have you moved quickly with success?  Was it the success you expected or something new?
  2. Think of all the reasons it is a good idea not to take the initiative. Look at them and ask: are these good enough reasons to not take action?
  3. Is there anything in your life more important than your fear of taking action?

You and Your Fear

Perhaps the biggest fear coaches have is they are not good enough.  It is a big responsibility, helping someone overcome their fear.  Your fear could reinforce theirs and result in a terrible catastrophe.

Yeah.  So, you think you may be worse than you think you are?  Isn’t it possible you are better than you think you are?  Consider the possibility your problem is not fear so much as selfishness.

You are brilliant and want to keep your brilliance to yourself!  There may be people out there who suffer because you do not offer your services to them.  How can I possibly know that?  There is only one way to find out.

Following this seventh post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.

Positioning yourself on a axis, what we desire and avoid.

Something to Remember when Positioning Yourself

Positioning yourself in the wrong way is easy.  Your focus needs to be on your market and their needs.  Forget your market and you position yourself according to what you enjoy doing or to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

Your Identity

The big challenge is not so much finding a position as maintaining a consistent identity once you take up the position.  Your market will not necessarily hear or understand you the first time.  Or the second!

This does not mean you have to say exactly the same thing every time but you need to deliver a coherent message over time.  Your offers evolve as your understanding of your market and its desires increases.  But your overall message to your market must remain consistent over time.

So, today is as good as any other to start delivering a consistent message to your market.

Questions about Your Position

  1. How successful have you been in delivering a message that is both distinctive and consistent?
  2. How does your message show empathy for your market?
  3. Where you have a clear position, what are the opportunities for collaboration with competitors?

How to Focus on Your Market

Nothing beats knowing your market.  Make a list of their needs or desires.  Remember you are listing the needs of a particular market, not the needs of people in general.  Choose two of those needs and draw them as axes on a graph.

See if you can place yourself on these axes.  Where do your competitors fall on the graph?  Do you have a degree of separation?  Note your competitors aren’t really competing, they serve a different group of people.  If there is little or no separation, change one or both axes.

Find a couple of needs that give you separation from the rest of the marketplace.  Position yourself so that you stand out from the rest for a particular market.  Aim to get your message across to those people so they know you are addressing them and like what they hear.

 

Following this sixth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.  Most weeks you receive an email with helpful news or pointers to how you can tackle these questions.