How to avoid the first great marketing mistake

A few days ago I wrote a blog called “The secret of the forth discipline of business” where I commented on the complexity of delivering good marketing, and how great marketing starts with answering the four key questions of Why are we in business, what issue to we solve, who has these issues and how to they choose to going about solving them. I also mentioned that this is just the beginning of good marketing. And the truth is that once you have these four questions answered to some level you are on a journey.

My grand father would have said “well, you’re on the first rung of the ladder now”. And I’m sure grandfathers all over the world would be saying the same thing, and they would be right.

Next of course you need to start to tell your message to people. But before you run off and employ some creative agency to craft your message from a template you will be asked to complete (using the answers to the four questions), there is something much more effective you can do (and much cheaper). Call a customer, potential customer or your own sales people and see if the answer to the four questions (lets call this your strategic message) actually resonates with them. Does it get them excited and have them wanting more?

I find the more people you try your message out with the better. Each time you learn how to tell it better. I find personally they I need to tell the strategic message to at least one hundred people before I learn enough myself to be able to get others involved in the creative process. You may find you only need to try it ten times, or you may need three hundred times.

There is nothing more important than getting your strategy right. When you are confident that it works, you will also find that the number of words you are using to tell your story has become less. The best strategic messages become incredibly simple and concise.

It’s easy to spot strategic messages that have not gone through this process. Firstly they are incredibly complex and secondly they make absolutely no sense. If you see words like heterogeneous or scalable in the mix, you know they really have no idea what they are saying. I call these “wooly words”, they mean virtually nothing and are used to hide behind.

If you have a strategic message with wooly words in it, and you go to a creative agency, then they will love you forever. Because if you have no idea what your talking about, then they can charge you a small fortune to create a creative message that you cannot understand, and will be of no value. This means that you will have to go over it again and again, employ more agencies to run focus groups and the gravy train will be long and lucrative.

There are some truly amazing creative agencies out there, and when you have a clear and simple view of your own strategic messages they can really help you develop a powerful and high quality framework to tell your story.

But a company must understand it’s own reason to live, understand exactly what business it’s in, what problem it solves for its market, who has these issue and how they choose to solve them before anyone can truly help you make your message better. (203)


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