Marketing strategy always changes as technology evolves. But the underlying principles remain steadfast, grounded in consumer psychology. These 10 entrepreneurs share their No. 1 unchanging marketing rule:
1. Grab attention.
You’ve probably seen the statistic about the average attention span being less than a goldfish because of today’s evolving digital world. Regardless of whether the statistic is true, it’s imperative that your marketing captures customers’ attention. Here’s how:
- Tease. Get people’s attention by highlighting a problem they’re facing.
- Please. Illustrate benefits and solutions using magical transformations, testimonials and multi-functionality, if possible. Testimonials are essential. In today’s world, peer-to-peer information strongly influences people’s purchasing decisions.
- Cease. Give people an irresistible offer that they can’t refuse.
—Kevin Harrington, inventor of the infomercial, pioneer of the “As Seen on TV” industry, and original Shark on Shark Tank with a $450 million net worth
2. Speak their language.
Learn to speak in a language people understand, not your preferred method of communication. I created a “PASE” system to categorize people’s preferred thinking, speaking and understanding into four areas: Practical, Action, Social and Emotional.
- Speak slowly and logically without hype to Practical people; they just want the basics.
- You can be slightly louder and more aggressive with Action people because they like to be motivated and pushed.
- Social people like laid-back friendly conversation without much pressure; over time, if they like you, they’ll do business with you.
- With Emotional people, be careful not push them too much. Use phrases like “How does this make you feel?” You don’t need as much logic and definitely shouldn’t be aggressive.
—Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to many multimillion-dollar businesses, has built an eight-figure online empire
3. Be relevant.
Most marketing focuses on pushing people. You’ll become more relevant by meeting prospects at their current mindset: They’re either on the sidewalk (just getting to know you), slow lane (follow your work) or fast lane (ready to buy). Step into the shoes of each type of prospect, and ask yourself:
- How can I add value to each type of prospect?
- How can I make them more invested in my offer?
- How can I transition them to become paying customers?
Then tailor your marketing experience so they’re adamant that no one else is better qualified to solve their problem.
—Scott Oldford, founder of INFINITUS; helps six-figure businesses scale to seven figures using online marketing
4. Create products you love.
My company doesn’t engage in market analysis, focus groups or fancy research; rather, my personal desires and frustrations have instigated every single product we’ve ever made. For example, I love tuna salad but cringe every time I’ve needed to apply commercial mayonnaise made with refined vegetable oils like canola. (This was the impetus for creating our Primal Kitchen mayo and salad dressings.)
We prioritize designing an outstanding product, then aspire to create a market by explaining its health benefits. For example, detailing the antioxidant, immune-boosting benefits of avocado oil (the base for our mayonnaise and dressings) versus the health hazards of consuming mainstream products containing refined high polyunsaturated vegetable oils.
Education-based marketing is our No. 1 marketing rule: It wins, time after time, and always will. Focus your attention on adding tremendous value to your network, not on trying to “sell them.” Be 100% focused on solving problems for your prospective clients. Lead with the problem, meet your prospect in their hurt, and showcase your solutions to bridge the gap between where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow.
6. Profit over prettiness.
Standing out, being noticed, becoming the talk of the office water cooler—I know why so many people look to their marketing efforts to serve as some magic bullet. The truth is, in today’s crowded world (online and off), it’s simply too expensive to make this happen. Instead, focus on demand-generation marketing—giveaways and quality blog content, for example—to get customers excited about your products and services long term.
7. Give people what they want.
Content is still king. We have shifted from pushing out keyword-rich content for ranking to intention-based content. We leverage customer questions and FAQ information to create content for the questions people are asking versus just trying to rank for keywords. Giving people what they want allows us to keep our edge, no matter how quickly things evolve.
—Gary Nealon, president of Nealon Solutions and The Rox Group; five consecutive years on the Inc. 5000
8. Get social.
Have your finger on the pulse of what your audience is doing; mine are all on social media. At almost 1 million followers, I can’t imagine operating my businesses without Instagram or Snapchat. Even if Snapchat and Instagram die off, there will be another platform to take its place in marketing directly to your consumer—and you’d better be on it, because your customers will be. I stay engaged with my followers and customers by posting daily social media content. Variety is key to keeping your audience engaged. People seem to resonate best with tutorials, giveaways, inspirational quotes and “outfits of the day” lifestyle photos. Taking a day off social media would be the equivalent of closing my business for the day.
9. Go where they are.
For me, the one thing that never changes is knowing my audience. Marketing is about getting people in the frame of mind to say yes and encouraging them to take action. If I don’t have a clear understanding of their needs, fears and values, it becomes nearly impossible to create a sense of urgency in them or even reach them. To illustrate, if I were trying to reach a largely senior audience, social media and email might not be very effective. This audience might be best reached through traditional mail, television and print advertising. So although things continually change, knowing your audience will not. Identifying and knowing who your audience is, and how best to reach them, is the key to success.
10. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
You’re smart enough to know your consumer and what they want. What’s tricky is basing your marketing decisions on hard facts, rather than on how you feel in the moment. It’s easy to get emotionally attached to the outcome of a marketing campaign. Previously, I found myself expecting each day to look the same, and I would make the mistake of feeling unsuccessful if it fluctuated. My most successful marketing campaigns were when I made decisions based on long-term, solid numbers. Decisions based on data will give you the power to replicate and scale what’s working in your business while phasing out what doesn’t work. It will also keep you from tinkering with what “ain’t broke.”
This article was published in May 2017 and has been updated. Photo by Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock