I know that you must have been told that marketing is all about gimmicks, tricks or tactics. That it is all about being smart, right?
The moment you begin to see marketing as simply being smart with your target customers using all forms of gimmicks, tricks or tactics to cajole them into buying, then you’ve got it all wrong.
And just so you know, the fact that some companies get away with this form of marketing doesn’t validate it in anyway.
As a matter of fact, it’s the quickest way to devalue your brand and lose the trust of potential customers. It’s a short term solution to a long term problem.
The 3 Levels Of Market Engagement
Gimmicks, tricks and tactics are quick fix approaches to marketing. They may get you the attention of the market, but they can never get you their affection. It’s one thing to be known [attention] is another to be liked [affection] and a whole different thing to be trusted [conviction]. These are the 3 levels of market engagement; each describes the kind of relationship a brand has with her target audience.
Using gimmicks, tricks and tactics alone will only get you to the first level –attention. Which simply means the market knows you, they are aware your brand, product, service or company exists. It doesn’t mean they like you, or trust you or will even buy from you. Being known alone doesn’t guarantee sales. Making the sale is more complicated than that, forget all you’ve been told –sales is NEVER made in an instant!
Customers follow a certain buying process before making a purchase decision, I have written about this before, read more here. However irrational or emotional this buying process takes is irrelevant, what matters is that a buying process occurs before the purchase decision is eventually made.
This is why relying on only gimmicks, tricks or tactics alone is not enough to influence a purchase decision. Marketing is all about INFLUENCE, nothing more, nothing less. It is a game that is played not in the market as many erroneously believe, but rather it is a game played in the MIND –the mind of your target customers!
What many entrepreneurs often overlook is the fact that buying is a DECISION and one that solely rests in the hand of the target customer to make. And when decisions are involved, you can only fool people once, twice or thrice at most. Before long, your gimmicks, tricks and tactics will become a trail that you leave behind and the market starts to avoid you like plague.
Why? Because decisions are personal and emotional, people don’t want to feel cajoled or manipulated. People want to own their decisions and this is why they resent gimmicks, tricks or tactics. No wonder they say salesmen are slimy, because of the gimmicks, tricks or tactics they employ to make the sale by all means. But if your marketing is done right, selling will be less slimy.
The Kind Of Marketing That Works
To get past attention and win the affection and conviction of the market, you need to seek to influence rather than manipulate your target customers. I know what you may be thinking; influence is NOT the same as manipulating.
Manipulation is negative and influence is positive. Manipulation seeks to take advantage of her victim such that he/she will unknowingly act based on false information. While influence seeks to empower such that he/she will knowingly act based on authentic information.
The key difference between influence and manipulation is this; authenticity –are you equipping your target market with authentic information that enables them make the right buying decisions? Are you honestly doing all the best you can to help them solve their problems? Are you making promises you can keep or just saying whatever it takes to make the sale?
Decisions, be it a buying decision or any other form of decision is based on available information. People make up their minds based on what they know per time. If as a marketer, the information you provide to your target audience is false or incomplete and they base their buying decision on this information, then you are manipulating rather than influencing them.
The moment you deny a person the right to know what they ought to know in order to make a decision, then you’ve manipulated them. Manipulation is about using people rather than leading them. Your task as an entrepreneur is to lead your target audience rather than using them. Business is all about win-win relationships; it’s hinged on mutual benefits.
And here’s how to create that win-win relationship that will influence your target market to make the right buying decisions;
1. Begin With Why?
Market The IDEA And Not The Product!
Influence just like marketing is a mind game; the head [reason] and the heart [emotion] must buy in first before the body will follow. You can’t get the hand or leg to move to buy until you have first gotten the head and heart to believe in what you are selling. This is why great companies and great leaders always begin with why?
Beginning with the ‘why’ is how you get your target market to believe in your brand, company, product/service. If marketing is all about influence, influence is all about making people believe in you, your cause, vision, mission or idea. Creating and communicating a shared belief based on certain core values is the foundation of marketing that works.
It involves selling people your idea first before you sell them your product/service. It’s how you get them to connect first with the brand both emotionally and logically long before they make a buying decision. To get people to buy from you, get them to buy–into you, your cause, vision, mission, purpose, message or idea.
The mistake many marketers make is that they begin their marketing with the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. They start by telling the market what their product is and how it works; “our product/service is the best in the market because it has this and that features and this is how it works, so buy from us”.
Going back to the 3 levels of market engagement I mentioned above; attention, affection and conviction, beginning with the ‘why’ is how you win the affection [emotional buy-in] and conviction [logical buy-in] of the market. People will not only get to know your brand, they will like and trust it because it portrays certain values they strongly believe in.
Think about brands like Apple, Google, Virgin, Harley Davidson, Nike, Starbucks, MTV, Oprah, or Disney; they all portray certain core values that resonate with their target market. These core values are what creates a sense of shared belief in the mind of the customer. When it’s time to make a purchase decision, they rely on this shared belief to guide them in making the right choice.
2. Put The Customer First
The Key To Influence Is Putting The Other Person First.
It was the great Dale Carnegie that first wrote in his classic; ‘how to win friends and influence people’ that being genuinely interested in people is one sure of influencing them. Nothing can be truer. When it comes to influence, you simply can’t afford to be self-centered. I have often emphasized this; customers don’t care about your brand, company, product/service until they know how much you care about them first.
They want to know how much you know about them, how much you know about their situation, aspirations, needs, wants, problems, challenges, expectations and many more. They want to know that you care about them first and not about how much you can get from them. They want to be at the centre of your marketing. They want everything you do as a company to revolve around them!
How do you pull this off?
- Get to know everything you can about your target customers [situation, aspirations, needs, wants, problems, challenges, expectations and many more] through research and personal observations.
- Backed with the knowledge of your target customers, create a big picture [vision, idea, USP, message, brand story] of a preferable future.
- Backed with the knowledge of your target customers, create a product/service or a combination of products/services that will serve as solutions/answers to their needs and wants.
- In all your marketing, consistently communicate why it is very important for you as a brand/company to help make the big picture a reality in their life/business.
- Describe how this big picture is going be made a reality through the combination of products/services you offer as a company.
Touch people’s heart before asking for what’s in their hand.
There are so many boring brands out there that don’t do anything inspiring; they just go about business as usual. One great way to influence the market is to inspire it; do something above the norm, do something that wows the market. Do something that makes a difference.
What do consumers do when they are inspired by a company? Trust me, there is an ROI –return on investment for inspiring the market. According to Forbes Amerca’s 25 most inspiring company, a survey conducted revealed this;
“The survey found that 81% of respondents say they would recommend the company to friends and family. Seventy-eight percent would be loyal to that company, and another 72% would share their experience with others. More than half (55%) reported they would spend more on a company that inspires them.”
In what ways have you been influencing your target market?
What is the big idea, the ‘why’ behind your brand, company, product or service?
Do you always put your customers first? What practical steps do you take to ensure the customer always comes first in your business?
Is your company inspiring? If yes, in what way or ways are you inspiring the market?
Join the conversation, share your comments below. Can’t wait to hear from you, thanks!