10 steps to successful marketing: Step 2 – Understand what you actually do

factoryOh, don’t be stupid you’re thinking! Are you honestly telling me I don’t know what I do?

Undoubtedly you know what you do in your office/factory/workspace, but that’s not what makes a successful business: it is understanding what you DO to your customers which really matters. How do you solve a problem for them? How do you make their lives or their businesses better? How do you make them feel?

It’s easy to gloss over all of this and dismiss it as marketing mumbo jumbo. But understanding the impact which your products and services have on other people is important for so many reasons.

For example:

As your markets changes, you will be able to develop new products and services to fill gaps in that market
For example, if you’re a 19th century narrowboat owner and you say that your business is ‘moving goods on England’s waterways’, then the next few decades are going to be tough. But if you understand that your key role is to deliver other’s people’s products to your customers on time and in good condition, then you won’t go out of business when customers start complaining that your boats move too slowly on the canal – you’ll have already started sending things on the newly established railways. Move ahead a few decades, and when your customers complain that the railways don’t go to their front door, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition because you’ll have bought a fleet of Model T Fords. Skip ahead a generation or two, and your airfreight business is still profitably moving other people’s goods on time and in good condition. So what do YOU really do?

Your marketing messages will focus not on your products but their impact
You’ll have heard of ‘sell the sizzle not the sausage’. What impact do your products have on your customers? When you’re putting together a promotional campaign (with a marketing agency in Yorkshire like ELK), you’ll need to understand what would make somebody want to talk to you. We’ve seen so many letters or emails written by businesses which start with ‘I would like to introduce you to our products and services. We are a supplier of…’ Most people will have binned it before they get to the end of the first paragraph.

There’s some discussion on the internet at the moment about Apple’s latest mission statement (google Apple mission statement to find out more), which you’d expect to be uplifting and inspirational. You’d expect it to include references to technology changing people’s lives for the better. Instead it’s just a list of their current products. Some have suggested this is evidence, post-Jobs, of it falling from its position as the world’s leader in technology. Far more people buy Samsung phones running the Android OS, for example, than buy Apple’s iphone. In the real world of small business, where profits are measured in the tens of thousands rather than the billions, it could be argued that this is all irrelevant. ‘I’m a plumber. People understand that.’ Yes, but what differentiates you from the fifty other plumbers in your area? Are you faster, cheaper, more reliable?

So what do YOU do? If you’re not sure, contact us!