yesterday, in part 1 of this post we started working out the marketing puzzle. today, let me tell you a story…
an awesome customer – owner of the wooden toy co. – says “i need help! i need some clever marketing ideas. i am having trouble getting the word out about what i do to the right people. i feel like i just don’t stand out.”
i always start brainstorming and planning with a whole wack of questions:
- describe your brand: unique, quality, affordable
- describe your most awesome customers: well anyone with kids really. ages 0-10. even grandparents, aunts and uncles, babysitters…
- describe your product: we sell handmade wooden toys, they are all made locally, great quality – really durable.
- describe the competition: this is the hard part. we are competing with big brands like toys r us and walmart, it is really hard to compete with their low prices and huge brand recognition
- describe YOU: well i am not really part of my brand, i have tried to keep things really professional, no one wants to hear about me!
so at this stage, we start digging deeper.
tell me more about why you got into this business in the first place. what is your “why” – what ge’s you excited?
i guess i got started selling this stuff because these are the toys i really wanted to buy for my kids when they were little and they were so hard to find! i wanted the sort of toys i loved playing with when i was a little girl, stuff i can remember playing with over at my grandparent’s house… the toys had been in our family for ages! i didn’t want to buy the cheap crap at walmart – made in china with who knows what in the paint and plastic. *shudders* plus i really wanted my kids to know the joy of imaginative play. i didn’t want them sitting in front of a TV screen or computer game all day long. i wanted them to grow up like my brothers and sisters and i did – creating an entire universe around our simple wooden toys. i guess i love the simplicity of it, i love the traditional style of play where kids actually have to go outside and make up games and entertain themselves and play nicely with their brothers and sisters! plus i feel like this sort of play is more educational – though the kids don’t even realize it. they are having too much genuine fun!
tell me more about your customers? think of a customer who is just awesome – she absolutely adores your products and raves about you to your friends. selling to her is easy because she is already sold. what does she say about your products?
well she is a bit like me i suppose, she also really wants her kids to experience imaginative play and has those same values of simplicity and family togetherness i suppose. sometimes when we talk i sense that buying these toys actually makes her feel like a good parent – she doesn’t let her kids sit in front of the tv and she feels like she is offering them a more worthwhile and educational childhood. i think she also feels like a better consumer - she isn’t buying crap that is going to end up in a landfill, it can be passed on to her grandkids. plus she loves that the toys are made here, not in some sweat shop.
hmmmm, at this stage we are able to really start working things out…
your ideal customer isn’t anyone with kids. it is the mom who doesn’t mind spending more to buy local, to buy handmade, to buy from a small biz because she feels like she is being a good parent and a good consumer – it makes her feel good, it eases her guilt, it may be even makes her feel a bit superior to other parents.
the thing you are REALLY selling is not a wooden toy. what you are really doing is tapping into the need to do the right thing and best thing for our kids, the need to put something better into this world than cheap crap, those values of simplicity and traditional learning & play, the nostalgia we have for what life used to be like for kids.
so your competition is not toys r us or walmart at all. the people who will shop there are not really your ideal customers, they don’t have those values and aren’t interested in paying more to get those benefits. don’t worry about those brands – focus on your ideal customer and your unique brand.
because your brand message isn’t about: unique, quality, affordable– those are things most businesses say about themselves, and those words barely stand out. your brand is: imaginative play, educational play, simplicity, traditional, nostalgia
in an effort to “be professional” and compete with those big brands, you have wiped all the personality out of your brand. i can tell by talking to you that you are really passionate about this, and get really excited about the toys you sell and what they mean to the families you sell to.
you need to add more of THAT into your brand – more of your own spark, your passion and purpose and what you care about. and you need to take that brand message that we have just worked out and shout it from the rooftops. make it the core of every single thing you do. when you do you will attract more of the people who care about those same things.
and at this stage the client says “omg. i feel like all the pieces of this puzzle finally fit together. i am so excited about this now! i have all of these ideas!! what if we…”
and that is where the marketing magic happens – all of the brainstorming and planning gets easier and more fun because our brand is now so much more than a logo – it is the center of everything.
as we talked about in part 1 of this post: branding, marketing, and selling are inextricably linked, and this example shows how clarity is the first step to working it all out.
but there are actually 5 key things you need to think about:
clarity – you need to really understand what it is you are REALLY selling, you need to know exactly who your ideal customer really is, you need to have a clear and specific brand message.
consistency – once you know exactly what your message is you need to communicate it with every single business activity or strategy or interaction.
repetition – and you need to spread that message over and over and over again with your marketing – this creates brand recognition, builds trust, and builds loyalty.
exaggeration – the marketplace is noisy. it is not enough to have a great tagline and pop your logo on everything. that stuff is only a tiny piece of your brand… and the result is probably a bit bland. unremarkable. un-noticable. once you figure out what your message is, you need to be over the top with adding your brand to your marketing & sales... exaggeration takes your clarity & consistency & repetition and pushes it further.
simplicity – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every marketing & sales strategy you use. you don’t need to do everything and be everything and compete with everyone. stick to the core of your brand, stick with what you want to be known for and what you do best.
amplify your brand. master your marketing. these are the 5 steps that i would love to see every micro biz owner taking.
(note: the story above is not about any one actual business, rather it is a simplified version of what i do with my customers in my workshops and one-on-one sessions. the businesses change but the process remains the same – we all need to start with our brand. when we do everything else becomes easier.)
if you are like me, you want to SHINE, to feel authentic AND successful with your marketing, join us for the amplify your brand. master your marketing. online workshop. i would love to help you make those marketing wishes of yours come true!