In a lot of ways, marketing is nothing if not a communications medium – the same as anything else.
The delivery mechanism may change – one day it’s a Facebook post, the next day it’s an entry to your business’ blog, the day after that it’s a video uploaded to a service like Uscreen – but the fact that you’re opening a direct (and hopefully honest) line of dialogue between you and members of your target audience remains steadfast.
This is certainly not a new idea… but one of those parties happens to be a whole lot more important than the other.
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Far too many marketers still don’t understand the actual relationship that they’re tapping into every time they release another piece of collateral into the world.
They see something like a video as a benefit to themselves – a way to raise brand awareness, increase engagement or promote a new product or service – to the widest possible audience.
But what they’re really looking at is a benefit to the consumer – or at least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. In truth, marketing isn’t about you or your business at all. It’s about your customer first and foremost – always has been, always will be.
The sooner you remember this, the sooner you start generating the results you need when you need them the most.
Start With the Needs of Your Customers and Work Your Way Backwards
The next time you sit down with a tool like Visme (which I founded) to design that great new presentation, you should do two things. First, take out a piece of paper and a pencil and write down all of the objectives you need that collateral to accomplish.
Maybe you’re trying to raise awareness, maybe you need to generate more leads. Regardless of what they are, write these goals down on a piece of paper.
Then, set that paper aside.
Those goals are important, yes – but they’re all secondary objectives. The two things that you should concern yourself with FIRST are the answers to the following questions:
- What do my audience members WANT or NEED?
- How will this presentation or visual graph or video or blog post give it to them?
The answers to those questions will help to contextualize the project you’re about to start working on within the value that it will ultimately provide – not to you, but to the people who will actually be consuming it.
Your audience has a particular type of problem they’re dealing with, it’s up to you to solve it. Your audience has a pressing question on their collective minds, it’s up to you to answer it.
These are what the real, primary objectives are when you sit down to create anything that is ultimately designed for human consumption.
If you start with your own internal goals and work your way to your customer, you’ll probably end up with something that looks terrific – but that also rings false to a huge swath of the population. Because when you’re being self-serving or cynical, people can feel that. Rest assured, they won’t forget it.
When you start with the customer and work your way back to the collateral, suddenly you’re reinforcing the image you were trying to convey in the first place – that of a company that sees customers as more than just line items on a balance sheet.
The Intimacy Factor
Also consider the fact that the mobile world we’re now living in has opened up a whole new level of intimacy into the marketing equation. A few decades ago if people wanted to be exposed to advertising, they essentially had to go out of their way to do it.
They had to watch their favorite show on TV (when it aired, no less!), read a magazine or drive past a billboard.
Now, you’ve got a direct connection to anyone you want on what is essentially a 24 hour a day, seven day a week basis.
So it is of the utmost importance that you do NOT abuse that connection.
If you aggressively launch a new campaign for mobile devices at 7AM that is literally just a straight tool for selling, guess what? You’ve abused this connection and people are going to stop paying attention to you.
Suddenly, one of the most powerful tools in the history of the industry is essentially cut off from you because you didn’t understand how to use it properly.
But if you focus on improving their lives and making them easier, or more efficient, or more enjoyable in some way, you can absolutely bet that people are going to be willing to keep coming back for more.
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The Perspective is All That Matters
Yes, a well designed piece of marketing collateral checks a lot of different boxes all at once – all of which are hugely beneficial to your organization and its long-term goals. Once that great new Infographic goes live, suddenly more people than ever are aware of your next new product or service.
People are talking about it and you’re increasing engagement across the board. A number of sales are probably going to be directly attributed to that great new piece you just published.
But this isn’t the primary objective of marketing at all.
Only by remembering that marketing is about your customer – meaning that their lives should be better in some way, no matter how small, after digesting your content than they were before – will everything else fall into place.
Marketing used to be about straight selling, but those days are long over. Make no mistake: this is the perspective that your customers want you to take when it comes to the relationship you’re trying to forge with your audience.
The sooner you understand that, the better.
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