Saturday, 26 May 2012

When your marketing is not working

When your marketing is not working: by Jason Li 2012 ©

I have heard different reasons why marketing is not working. These include people trying marketing promotion tactics such as: newspaper advertising, radio ads, leaflets, cards in newsagent windows, networking groups, word-of-mouth through friends, telesales, and so-on and so-on. But don’t blame the graphic designer. He or she is running a business and will help you spend and create any fancy artwork you want. They might not understand marketing strategy, but are amazingly good at design.

If your marketing promotions do not work, it’s normally because you asked the designer to create the wrong thing which you signed off. But now here is a way that you can reduce the chances of getting it wrong so that you are more successful and the graphic designer does not get their reputation tarnished.

All the above are really classified as promotions and part of marketing communications. It’s still part of marketing, but if you generally have a problem with your promotions then it is usually more to do with not doing marketing strategy properly. What you say in your communications is down to what you have strategically offered. If this is wrong, then people who see or hear your message have not found your offer irresistible.

Promotions and marketing communications are really just the message and how you communicate the message. Eg. Buy one apple get one free written on a leaflet. Sometimes, businesses can jump the gun and start communicating offers without working out what is enticing to a prospective customer.

Marketing is the finding out what your target market needs or wants so that you can create a product or service of value that meets the customer needs. Once you have done this, then let people know about it.

Let’s get back to basics

There are two general strategies: low cost supplier or high margin differentiated.

A low cost supplier is offering the very basic version at lowest cost to undercut competitors. Obviously, if you can add in some quality in your offer, for example if you make a cheap biro pen and add a nice smooth pen nib, and can still be cheaper, then do it. Your offer here is to the cheap biro pen market with a nice smooth pen nib so that it is not the same as other cheap biro pens.

A high margin differentiated is an offer of where you create better quality and maximum value than your competitors. But it will cost more due to quality components or expertise. Examples include Mercedes Benz, iPads, or a top lawyer.

Market research

A mix of theoretical and practical research will help.

Let’s say you are a landlord. You can ask at the estate agent questions to get an idea of who is your tenant type, or how to change your property to suit tenant types.

Ask good questions such as:

“From your experience ‘Miss estate agent’, what three things would a doctor want to feel comfortable living here?” You could directly ask a friend who is a doctor or a doctor who is looking at your property.

“When do students normally look for accommodation?”

“How many professionals would you say rent in the city?”

For more on working out your customer see quality, price, delivery.

Niche and market segments.

Yes there is a large market out there. You could say you are a landlord and want to rent out a four bedroom house with garden in the city. At first logic you would think there’s a million people in this city and they all need to live so we are in business. But then you do see houses that do not fully rent out, so the million people in the city means it’s a certainty guarantee does not wash.

You might notice that certain properties suit a certain type of tenant. Let’s say that the typical tenant for your property is a female in 20s with an office job earning £20k plus. This is your niche, your segment of the market, your target market. The whole market are all the tenant market types, and particular types are segments such as 20s office professionals, or 40s office professionals, or students, or doctors.

Work out which segment would suit your property and be the most attractive in this niche.


This is where you can create and highlight where you are blindingly obviously different from competitor offers.

Let’s take a landlord trying to put on a house for rent. There’s no point just putting a four bedroom house and garden for rent on the market. The garden might suit 40s+ office professionals. So find out what 40s+ people like to do in the garden. Make the garden a place where they can sit on a bench and read a book, or an area to grow their own plants etc. If you have doctors then have book shelf furniture and a nice office desk if you are a furnished property. If you are renting to university students then point out how you are close to student bars, the library, local supermarket, cheap shops, playing fields, condom machine (even students can afford a romantic meal at the local cafeteria with a partner and more).

Another example is offering to manufacturers a unique service where you are the only intellectual property lawyers in the city.

Unique Selling Point (USPs)

What is unique that you have that attracts customers to your products and services.

From the above differentiation, there will be features or benefits that your property has that others in the city cannot offer, or only a few can. Such as a flat with a balcony that overlooks a beautiful park.

Value chain

The value chain are other parts of your business that adds value, not just the product or service that the customer can only see or feel. So you can create more value for the tenant too. Not just based on property. Here are some examples.

The estate agent provides 24/7 service, so if the tenant has problems such as boiler not working, then a property manager will come around within 3 hours.

The finance team take monthly direct debits so the tenant does not have to go to a bank to withdraw hundreds of pounds rent.

For £20 an hour a maintenance man can come round to help on lifting or fixing things like cabinets.

The house has wireless so tenants can be on the internet in their own rooms.

Promotions and Marketing Communications

Now we know what our target market wants and we are clear what our offer is. Now we can start working on promoting the product to potential tenants.

So we have gone from just plain spending lots of money on leaflets and newspaper ads saying four bedroom house with garden looking for tenants to a targeted marketing communications at prospective customers who will find great value in the offer.

Execution and Implementation

There is a lot of theory and ideas here. But this is essential to providing a structure in how to provide the right kind of value to the right target market.

The hard part is now for you to do it. Doing it is the part that makes all the difference. I am happy to give you the ideas that have worked and for you to fill your cup with knowledge. Now you have to put aside a couple of hours and work on the above ideas to make a difference to your business.

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