Hey readers! Quick notes before we jump in.
This is a post I have been wanting to write for some time. The way I understand the word marketing, I think business, sales, entrepreneur, products and brands. For e.g. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Apple, Tesla. After running an actual business (ANTSAND), studying and applying marketing, I realized marketing is more than what meets the eye.
Who is this post for.
If you are like me, and want to understand the science, ideas and art behind how Coca-cola, Walt Disney or Apple, do what they do to have such raving fans, this is a must read. Whether you are starting a business or a seasoned veteran and you want to understand marketing, online marketing or digital marketing at a much deeper level, this is for you. Even if you are not in business, and you want to be more marketable, be it finding a new job, finding new friends, or getting high quality dates, you can apply concepts from this post.
This is not a post on how to get more traffic to your website or how to convert them to customers. This post goes way beyond that. After understanding the principles of marketing, not only will you be able to expand your perspective and identify your ideal customer, you will learn principles that will help you attract those customers to your products and services. If you have been trying to sell your products to everyone and anyone, this post will explain why such a strategy is not only ineffective it is also a liability to your company.
This is also not a post on SEO tactics, boost page ranks on search engines or trying to dominate your market kinda blog post. Such tactics rarely work, and most often misguide the user. This post goes way beyond that, to a point where if you apply these principles, SEO will take care of it self.
In this post, we will dive 1st into, why most businesses fail, and how we can avoid such fate. Then we will create your business road map, and see how it fits into the real world. Once we define what your business road map is, we will then go into what is marketing, the mindset, behaviors, tactics and strategies. We will start with fundamental concepts and go further into how these concepts can be applied to your business.
In the roadmap section we will go into why you are doing what you are doing, and how to accomplish your 'why'. Then we will dive into the mindset of a great marketer and their thinking principles. In the marketing psychology section, we will try to understand human psychology, what makes us buy and why we buy things. When we reach marketing strategies, you will be able to apply all these concepts and strategize your marketing efforts using education and other tactics. Finally we will end with the actions you can take and how you can integrate all these concepts into your business right away. This blog post will be filled with visual elements to make the reading easy, fun and enjoyable.
Marketing is a huge subject. When I first started ANTSAND
, a few years ago, I had no business experience. Being a programmer, I always felt marketing and sales were for the outspoken personality. I also thought marketing was sales and sales was a low end job. Only those who could not find a proper job would get into sales. Little did I know, my understanding of sales and marketing was just wrong.
After starting my business, I had to write software, do marketing, do the sales do the closing and every role my business needed for it to survive. Not easy. With a lot of trial and errors, researching and understanding how the best in the business work, how they execute things, and how customers and people perceive their brand, I started to get a feel of what marketing is. I started to implement few of those concepts into my personal life and business, and it changed how my business works. If there is one definition that I believe what marketing is to your business, it is this.
"Everything you do in your business is Marketing"
When I say everything, I literally mean everything. From writing software, to talking to customers, to meeting with clients to closing a sale, to customer support and building a brand, is all marketing. Yes, even writing software is marketing. When a user uses a piece of software, if it does not do what they expect it to do, they will have a bad impression of your product. Without understanding how your users are going to use your software, you software will most certainly be useless. By having a marketing mindset, you have a better chance of writing software that people want and are happy to use. This is why everything in your business is marketing. This applies to all types of business. From retailers to carpenters. I just happen to be in the software industry, hence many of my personal examples in this blog will be related to software.
Your Business Path So far
For most of us, this is how society tells us how things work. And for many of us, we believe this equation to be true.
Unfortunately, there are multiple layers that are abstracted in the above picture. This makes a good Hollywood or Bollywood movie, but not a game plan for success.
This is how reality actually works:
Think of the circumference of the circle as all possible outcomes for your business. Your journey to starting a business starts at the center. Almost every point on the circumference will result in killing your business. If we clump all the ways in which you can make your business profitable, and compare it to all the ways you will end up killing your business, you will realize, that ratio is very tiny. One might say this is being pessimistic, but this is reality.
Our goal for this blog, is to have mental tool kits, to prevent us from killing our business before it is too late. Most business owners have had multiple roadblocks before reaching success. In this path to profitability, you can reach a point which has killed your business, but the experience you have gained will always remain with you. Therefore your path does not restart, it just continues. But most give up.
The longer your path, the longer it takes for you to reach success.
Why am I telling you this? We need to study companies that have had immense success, reverse engineer their game plan and see how we can apply it to our lives. We also need to study companies that did not succeed and add that to our game plan of things "not to do". Having both list, we can devise a powerful marketing plan, that can increase our chances of success.
Our aim is to make a profitable business. Even if you get investors to invest in your business today, eventually, you still need customers to pay for your products or services. The end goal of every successful company is to have enough customers that support the well being of the company.
A profitable business is when customers pays for services and products, and that money pays for all the company expenses + extra money for the company to invest in savings and growth.
This is what we want to achieve. A Profitable business.
Our goal for this post, is to give you the mindsets and tools to reach your business success as quickly as possible. This is not a magic pill. Most likely you will have to push way outside your comfort zone to achieve a profitable business. You might have to overcome your fears to get things working. If you do not overcome your fears, there are good chance it will come and haunt you. The willingness to "do whatever it takes" is key to succeeding with marketing and your business. You will often have to step outside of your comfort zone to succeed and you will have to face and overcome your fears of embarrassment, rejection and pushing people.
You build a product and customers will magically come. NOT TRUE. This is a major blind spot for most business owners, and you need to understand this from the get go.
Another thing to note about business success is, it is very different from job success. Job success is about reactively doing work, business success is about pro-actively getting customers. Job success is about pleasing your superior or doing things your superior has told you to do. Business success is all about getting customers and retaining them.
To boil things down, every action you take, has a higher chance of killing your business compared to making it successful. Your competition wants to kill your business, some other company from another sector might disrupt your industry, market timing, luck and your own bad decisions are all forces that are trying to kill your business. Hence it is silly to invent success. Rather, we need to model success.
This is a post about marketing. The purpose of marketing is to create a successful and profitable business. Let us dive deep in to what defines success and reverse engineer our way to start creating a profitable business.
Your Business Road Map - Defining your Business and Marketing Success:
There are 4 layers to this question: The Why, the how, the What and the When.
The why is a more philosophical question, but gives meaning to why you want to start a business. It give you direction, purpose and strength when you need it the most. If you are trying to get into business for the sole purpose of making money, it will reflect in the company you run. Customers will sense it, and it will cost you in the long run. Taking time to define your 'why' will give you direction. The mission statement reflects what your company needs to do to keep it running.
Mission statement of companies
- High level vision of ANTSAND: ANTSAND's mission is to give people tools to become more valuable to society. To help business owners grow their business online
- Facebook: Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
- Tesla: Tesla's mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. ...
- Coca-cola: To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions.
- Lenovo: Our mission is to become one of the world's great personal technology companies. We aspire to achieve this objective by leading in three key areas: Personal Computers: Lead in PCs and be respected for our product innovation and quality.
- Apple: Steve Jobs' mission statement for Apple in 1980 was: "To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind
- Microsoft: Microsoft's corporate mission is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
- Dell: Dell's mission is to be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve. In doing so, Dell will meet customer expectations of: Highest quality.
- Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
- Amazon: Our vision is to be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
- Google: To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Ever since its beginnings, the company has focused on developing its proprietary algorithms to maximize effectiveness in organizing online information.
- Walt Disney: Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom motto is “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” Disneyland (in California) motto is “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
- Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” The company further states that everybody is an athlete, based on Nike founder Bill Bowerman's statement, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
- Space X: It was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars.
- WalMart (under Sam Walton): "To save people money so they can live better.” This statement reflects the ideals of the company's founder, Sam Walton. Strategic decisions in the business are a direct manifestation of this mission statement, which is synonymous to the company's slogan, “Save money. Live better.”
- GE: GE's mission is to invent the next industrial era, to build, move, power and cure the world. GE imagines things others don't, builds things others can't and delivers outcomes that make the world work better.
- Toyota: "To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America." Vision Statement: "To be the most successful and respected car company in America."
- The Toyota brand is changing its U.S. advertising tagline to "Let's Go Places," replacing "Moving Forward," its slogan since 2004, Automotive News reports.
- Brendon Burchard: Live Love Matter
When you read the 'why' of the above companies, you can almost sense why they are successful. Their why was a grand goal in the beginning, but over time, most of the above companies are living their 'why'. Your 'Why' defines everything.
To learn more about figuring out your 'why', read, 'Start with your why' by Simon Sinek.
After, you define you why, your next step is to define your 'how'. It will give you direction as to how you are going to accomplish your 'why'
To support your 'why' you need a sound business plan. Without having financial support, you most certainly will not be able to accomplish your 'why'. This is why you need to define your 'how'. Your 'how' is nothing but a sequence of steps your business needs to transition through, to reach its mission.
Step 1: Build and maintain websites for small business
Step 2: Create ANTSAND's digital blogging platform and give business owners tools to create powerful and engaging blogs
Step 3: Grow ANTSAND's digital platform and give tools to local businesses to grow their business online
Step 4: Grow ANTSAND and give every one powerful tools to become more valuable to society
Each of the steps have to be profitable. If it is not, you will not be able to move to the next stage. Trying to solve all the steps in the 1st stage, will sure kill your business. It is important to break things down and make each step as simple as possible.
Similarly for facebook, google, microsoft, tesla, spacex, etc. This applies to all successful companies.
You need to define your 'how' in such a way, that you are able to start a profitable company today to reach your mission of tomorrow. Iteration is key.
The next step is "What"
The "What" is the exact or specific product, service and idea your business needs to produce, for customers to buy.
For ANTSAND the specific product and services that are offered at stage 1:
- CONCEPT2DESIGN - convert a template to a functioning website - starting at $650
- ANTSAND BLACK - Giving local businesses a senior marketing team for quarter of the cost - $4000/month
Once ANTSAND get's enough customers to fund ANTSAND's next dream, ANTSAND can invest that money to develop ANTSAND digital platform even further. At stage 2 the 'what' is a bit different
- Provide ANTSAND's Content and Blogging platform to local businesses to grow their organic reach - starting at $250/month
And from there, to the next stage
- Provide ANTSAND's marketing platform to local businesses to grow their organic reach, customer base, sales and revenue - starting at $350/month
And so on and so forth. None of this is written in stone. Your what will keep changing. Your price range will change, your offer will change your product or services will change. But it is a good idea to map things out, so that you know what you are trying to do, and where you are heading.
This approach is similar even for the big brands:
Everything is Timing. According to Daniel. H. Pink, in the book When, there is a proper time to do anything and everything. There is a time to find customers and there is a time to spend in R&D. There is also market timing. Sometimes you are trying to sell a product or a service to a market that is not ready for such a product or a service. Or you might be trying to sell a product or service that is outdated. When you do your 'What' and when you execute your 'how' is more important than anything else in business.
Have a look at this TED talk, that describes the importance of 'When' in a business. How 'timing' was critical for youtube and airbnb's success.
'Why' your mission or purpose,
'how' as your strategies
'What' as your actions to take and
'When' as your period to execute all of the above
To solidify your "Why", "how", "what" and "when" is the 1st stage of marketing.
In the next section, we are going to bridge the gap between your 'why', 'how', 'what' and 'when' with how the world interacts with your business.
Defining Marketing and Bringing your business plans to the real world.
Till now, we have only been talking about plans and ideas. None of this is meaningful, till a customers interacts with your company and purchases a product that satisfies their wants and needs.
This is what your company radiates.You radiate your 'why' your 'how' and your 'what' through different channels. The whole goal is to attract customers through different means and turn them into raving fans.
To attract customers to your brand, products or services, we need to change perspective. You need to look at your company from the eyes of your customers. And here in lies the secret to success. As we mentioned earlier, there are more paths that result in killing your business than making it succeed.
Without understanding how the outside world views your company, you are destined to kill your business.
The ability to understand and view your company from the eyes of your customers and build your products or services accordingly is marketing.
By seeing your company through the eyes of your customers, you are able to view your blindspots. It is these blindspots that will kill your business, and we need to uncover as many of them as possible. Marketing done right, will help you uncover your blindsopts.
Introduction to Marketing
Marketing is all about getting customers for your business. If you do not know how to get customers, you do not have a security or stability in your business. Without customers, you do not have a business. It is that simple.
To get customers, you need to interact with people. You need to get out and find people who are willing to buy your product. Most business die because founders spend precious resources such as time, money and energy on everything but getting customers. And no business can survive without customers.
There are 4 keys to marketing success. To succeed in marketing, you need to know, the marketing actions to take, advertisements to design, the software to make, the content to write, the brand you need to build, the products you need to make or the services you need to offer.
To understand how to take such actions, you need to have a strategy. Why are you doing the things you are supposed to do? How will those actions result in more profit?And how can we create systems and process that can automate your marketing?
To create a good strategy, you need to understand human psychology. Why do people do what they do? Why should they buy your product or services? What are they thinking when they interact with your product?
To understand human psychology, you need to have a marketing mindset. The mindset, will help guide you in the right direction, so that you can understand your markets psychology, devise a strategy to market your product and create your marketing action to sell and close potential customers.
So far we haven't really defined marketing. We have stated some phrases here and there but nothing too concrete. And to be honest marketing is an umbrella word. It encompasses numerous things in your business and collectively we call all those things as marketing. Things like,
1. Getting customers
5. Upselling & Re-Marketing
9. customer acquisition
They all can be defined as marketing in some way or form. As we dive deeper, you will get a firmer grasp on what it really means and how you can apply it.
Let us move on to defining marketing mindset.
Step 1: 12 Key Marketing Mindsets
Why should we focus on marketing mindsets?
How you think about an area of business or success, determines how you approach it. If you have the wrong ideas you will make serious mistakes. Mindsets acts as rules or frames to use for thinking about a topic. Use them like guidelines.
Marketing Mindset #1: Marketing is the key money maker in your business. Most things in your business cost money, marketing is one of the few things that get money to your business.
Mindset #2: Marketing is not something you do once. It is a process. It can be from putting up a website or running an ad, to creating complex systems and funnels. Creating a compelling product that sells itself to high quality customer service is all part of marketing. It is an ongoing process of continuous improvements.
Think Kaizen: Continuous improvement.
Mindset #3: Marketing begins with understanding the needs and wants of your customer. In the beginning it might be guess work, but eventually you need to get right into the needs and wants of your customers, understand their view of the world and sell your product or services accordingly. You need to probe your customers, interview them, understand their emotions, find out what keeps them awake at night and extract real data. Customers do not know what they want, and it is your job to probe them.
Mindset #4: Customers hate to be sold, but they love to buy. In the modern world, shopping is like an activity. People love to shop. You do not have to talk potential customers into buying your product. Rather, give them what they need so that they can convince themselves to buy. Allow your customers to have the pleasure from buying from you. Allow them to feel the success of solving a problem, satisfying their wants, fulfilling their passion, getting a desire. Give them what they need, so that they can do this.
This is not intuitive. This is because most business owners do no take the time to understand the other person. They just dive into their day to day work. In this case reflection and consideration can really help. Understand the other person, and give them what they need, for them to buy.
Mindset #5: Marketing is about triggering actions. Human beings, do not make, most of their decisions consciously. Underneath, we make decisions irrationally and then reason our decisions through logic. When we talk about triggering action in marketing, we are talking to our customers lizard and chimpanzee brain, the part of the brain that is essential for survival and giving that part of their brain what it is looking for. It is not necessarily trying to appeal to logic and their logical mind.
Mindset #6: Everything is a test. We like to think what ever we do is going to work, in the 1st try. What we do not realize, your result will most likely be something you did not expect. Most likely in a bad way. It can be very painful when it comes to business. When you spend money on an advertisement, or an ad and it does not give you the results you expect, it can be painful. More importantly, when you keep running it and it costs you a lot more money you miss the opportunity to try something that could work better. You are compounding your failures rather than compounding your success. When you compound your failure, that is when you wake up in the future and you are really bumbed out.
Instead of spending all your time, effort and money on a single activity, spend a little and measure how it performance. Keep iterating and testing, till you find your winning formula. Throw out the formulas that do not work, and keep the formulas that work.
Mindset #7: Run your marketing like a business. Most people run their marketing with their intuition. Marketing is the key money making activity in your business so run it like a business.
Mindset #8: Understand your customer better than they understand themselves. Become a professional, customer understander. Not superficially. Not guessing what customers want, not just asking them couple of questions, run some quick survey, but to really dive deep into their fears, their desires their fantasies their aspirations.
Find the pictures that they make in their mind. Learn the words that they use to describe their situation. Figure out where exactly they imagine themselves being in the future. What are they doing inside of their minds and emotions. When you understand your prospects and customers better than they understand themselves, you will be able to communicate with them better than anyone else. You will be able to persuade them better than anyone else. You will be able to create products, better than anyone else. Ultimately you will be able to build deep relationships with them and you can offer more and more products and services and build profitable lifetime relationships.
Mindset #9: Successful marketing is ultimately a successful marketing system and sequence. You want to build a machine that allows your customers to get a consistent, predictable interaction and predictable result, from coming to you, be it, interacting with your website, your business, your products your services and your upsells. Just like you can walk into a mcdonalds or starbucks in any part of the world and get a consistent french fries or a consistent cup of coffee, you want to build a marketing system so that a customer can come to you and get a consistent experience.
Mindset #10: The success of your marketing, is proportion to the perceived value that you create for your customers. Customers want massive value. You need to connect all the dots and show them how it is going to solve their problem.
Mindset #11: I am now a marketer, not just a business owner.
Mindset #12: Find customers where they are, not where you want them to be, and do not expect them to find you. You need to find them both, physically and psychologically. You need to speak to them in their language. You need to make it comfortable meeting you.
Below is an infographic that summarizes the marketing mindsets.
Now that we have a basic idea of what marketing is, and how to think about marketing, let us go deeper into the psychology.
Step 2: Marketing Psychology
In this section, we will go deep into understanding our primary motives that drive us, the part of our brain that triggers our thoughts, our emotions, decisions and actions. By understanding the science behind how we humans behave, your marketing efforts will be way more effective.
From the "inside" it usually appears that our thinking, decisions and actions are "rational". But from the "outside" it usually appears as "irrational". We humans do things for our own reasons, and not your reasons - and rarely are these reasons "rational". If you look behind most thoughts, feelings and actions you will find survival, reproduction and status drive us. Be it to get them or to prevent ourselves from loosing them.
To understand why we do what we do, let us dive deep into our 2,00,0000+ year old brain. Our brain has evolved slowly. There are 3 main parts to it.
Reptile, Mammal and Thinker. The challenge is our 3 brains are not very well integrated. The older brains seem to rule the newer.
This 3 brain or Triune Brain was 1st proposed by MacLean
Physical -> Flight or fight (lizard / reptilian brain)
Emotional -> Focused on what other think (money / limbic brain)
Logical -> the part of the brain you want to work the most (Thinker / neocortex)
We humans are also built and wired for a time that does not exist anymore. Today, we do not need to hunt for food (for the most part) and we are not going to be attacked by a lion or tiger. Times have changed but our wiring has not. It is still built for the outside, fight or flight world.
Due to the way we have been programmed, we are twice as motivated to avoid pain as we are to get pleasure. Tests have shown that we humans will pay twice as much to avoid pain as get pleasure. The "problem/fear/pain" aspect of what you sell is likely TWICE as important as the pleasure aspect.
When we have a need, our entire thinking & deciding process changes. We activate our reptilian brain. When our reptilian brain is in control, a person who is experiencing a need, a craving, a desire, a fear becomes a "different animal" - so to speak. When under the influence of a need, we become single-minded in our quest to satisfy it. Especially when it is about survival, sex, or status. General rule of thumb here, the stronger our need, the more we behave like an mindless animal. If the needs gets so strong, that it pushes the button of survival, reproduction or status and we see the opportunity to gain or assure survival, reproduction, status or to not lose it, we will act in desperation. When we need something, we are in a state of desperation. When a human being goes from a state of no needs to a state of need, the way our mind and body works also changes.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is used to study how humans partake in behavioral motivation intrinsically. Maslow used the terms "physiological," "safety," "belonging and love," "esteem," and "self-actualization" to describe the pattern through which human motivations generally move. This means that in order for motivation to occur at the next level, each level must be satisfied within the individual themselves. Furthermore, this theory is a key foundation in understanding how drive and motivation are correlated when discussing human behavior.
There are various other models, that try to explain human behavior. When a person is trying to move up the maslow's hierarchy, they may try to do what ever it takes to get to the next level. By understanding where your customers are, in this journey, you can market your product accordingly.
We humans are also very bad at figuring out how much things are worth. Money, value and prices are very confusing to humans. We are constantly looking for cues, criteria and comparisons to understand how much products and services are "Worth".
All of this adds up to prospective customers who needs clarity. You cannot hope to cut through this inner and outer noise without FOCUS. You must know what you are offering, who is it for, and what the benefit is to them, then present it to the IRRATIONAL human mind.
Let us move on and see how we can apply these models to your marketing efforts.
What are your customers really buying and why?
Most people are not prospects because they are not motivated. It is virtually impossible to sell products to people who have no motivation. You dramatically increase your chances of success if you are selling to motivated people who have a need. Prospects who are not actively looking for a solution are not prospects. Only if they are motivated and they want to solve a need or a problem they are facing, you will have a better chance of turning them into customers.
Don't sell to random people who are not motivated. it is virtually impossible to sell to people who are not motivated.
It is also important to remember, people do not buy products or services. They buy results, benefits and solutions. Most business owners think that they are selling a product or a service. Most customers think that they are buying a solution, a result or the avoidance of pain.
When you are trying to sell your product, what are you selling? Feature, advantages, benefits, results, solutions or relief?
Most people sell features, not benefits. A good way to catch your self from selling features is to ask, what is the relief your customers get with your solution?
At ANTSAND, our customers are not really looking to get a website or to fix their broken website. What they really want is to build a brand and get more customers and grow their revenue. A website in my case is a feature, generating revenue and a brand name is the result. Know the distinction well. In the website industry, because many agencies do state they can grow your revenue, the next question you should ask your self is "so what, prove it".
When customers understand the result your product offers, the next thing that is running through their mind is "So what. Prove it"
Your prospects are subconsciously always asking these questions.
- Will this really give me what I want?
- If I do this, will it be worth it in terms of my time, convenience or capital?
- What will other people say? Will they approve or disapprove? Will it mean pain or pleasure to me?
- Do I really need it now?
Stop selling logic. Customers do not really care about the quality, the product or anything else. When they do pay attention to these things, it is only to increase their chances of getting results, solution and relief.
When I first bough a vacuum cleaner a few years ago for around $50, it could hardly vacuum my floor. The result I was looking for was a clean floor, I would feel welcomed in. Unfortunately that vacuum cleaner was not able to deliver the results I had in mind. Years later, I bought a $600 vacuum cleaner, and it immediately gave me the results I was looking for. I went for quality, not because I care about the quality, but because it was able to give me the result I wanted. It was able to prove to me the solution and relief. That is what quality under the hood really means.
The reason why results is what drives us, is due to our 3 brains. We feel motivated when we are moving up the hierarchy of needs. It is an emotional thing, and not necessarily logical. To become good at selling result and benefits, you need to step outside your mind and get right into your prospects mind.
Marketing is entering a conversation that the prospect is already having inside their own mind.
As a rule of thumb:
- Look for customers who are motivated
- Look for customers who are looking for you
- Look for customers who have a few perceived options
Now that we have a better understanding of how we human think and make buying decisions, the next part is to figure out what is it that your customers really need. How can we discover their needs and understand their needs better than they can understand themselves.
Discovering customer needs
For the most part, customer needs are often hidden. You mist DIG. We like to assume we know what other are thinking and feeling. For the most part, we are really bad at such prediction. Do not guess what your customers are thinking or feeling. The price of a mistake when identifying customers needs is high. But the reward is great. The probability of identifying your customers is very low. So start talking to your customers one on one.
The fastest way to discover needs you can fulfill is to ask. You will learn more by talking to prospective customers in a few minutes compared to thinking about it all day long. Ask them, what are their fears, frustrations, wants, aspiration, etc
When you ask these question, what you are really looking for are emotionally needs that are going unmet. As you are researching, focus on the needs that are going unmet. A need that is being unmet is more powerful than a need that is being met.
Understanding human psychology is a complex topic. We have barely even touched the surface in this post. But we also have enough information to now move on to marketing strategies.
Step 3: Marketing Strategies
As you can see, we started this post more general and now we are moving onto the specifics. We have been trying to build the right foundations, so you can start to become an effective marketer. In this section, we will start to create your ideal customer by creating a customer avatar. We will also learn how to use education in your marketing, how to position your brand and company, how to present your services and products using a value ladder and how to attract your ideal customer by giving a lot of free value. We will take all the concepts that we learnt, from the mindset and psychology section and will apply these principles to our strategies and actions.
Creating your customer avatar
When starting to create a customer avatar, you should start by asking, what are the commonalities of all your customers? Who are they? How old are they? Are they male or female? What words do they use? Take time to find the particular commonalities that make your customers uniquely similar. One thing that stands out with all my customers is that, they have stopped trusting any web developer or web design agency because of bad experience. They have a skeptic notion as most agencies do poor work and charge a fortune.
These are the frustrations, I hear from most of my clients:
- Our last agency used some template and charged us a fortune
- We don't trust anyone in Vancouver with our digital presence, as they outsource the work to someone in some other country
- We want a custom software to be built for our website, but most developers we meet are not really developers.
- We want our website to convert better, but we don't know how
- We like to improve our rankings on search engines but we have no expertise
- We have a few updates to make on our website but don't know how
- Our website keeps getting hacked. How can we make it more secure?
Pick qualities that are common and have meaning and value. Discard the information that is irrelevant. What we want to avoid is, marketing your product and services to everyone.
Everyone is not your target customer.
Marketing to everyone is a waste of time, money and energy. It is like a drone. It goes right in one ear and right out the other. Most signs, most websites, most television ads, they just drone on in the background, we do not even hear them. It just looks like visual, audio mental clutter to us.
On the other hand, if you can figure out who your customer is specifically, if you can figure out their fears and their frustrations individually, if you can climb inside of what it is like to be them, to a point where you start feeling the feelings they feel, making the pictures that they make, if you can get their unique language, because you have listened to them, you have talked to them you are starting to become a very effective marketer.
Go out and learn the words and phrases they use, when they describe their fears, their frustration, wants and aspiration. Instead of you being another annoying marketer or sales person who is trying to sell them something and trying to get them to buy, something that they do not need, by understanding your customers deeply, you start to sound like a trusted adviser, like a friend who understands them.
You must sound like you are entering into a conversation that they are already having inside of their own mind. The further extent you can take this, is when you script out the actual dialog you have with your customer. Sit down and script down at a human level, talk to them and let them talk to you, like they would talk to a friend
Let us take the time to create an avatar. Define your avatars characteristics, common themes, stories and phrases, and finally write down the scripts and dialog that would actually happen from the point of meeting to the point of sale.
This is how ANTSANDs' customer avatar looks like.
After creating an avatar, you now know what your marketing message is going to be. You know whom to target, what pain points your customers have and you are able to understand their pain points better than they understand themselves.
Moving on with our marketing strategy, let us focus on how we can use education in our marketing.
Marketing as education
Most people who are experiencing a need, have very little knowledge about their problem and how to solve it successfully. Even though there is so much information out there, most people are in 'quite desperation'. Many of the times, customers do not know what they want, or are not able to really understand their pain points. They do not really know what their actual problem is. They just know, they have a fear, a frustration or a pain. OR they might have gotten into a situation where they have a want, an aspiration, a desire and they do not know how to get it.
To solve this problem, start to educate as you market and sell your products and services. Education can help both, help people solve their problems and help them see their problems. When you start to use education in your marketing, you also start to build trust, which is very essential for a customer to take action. People are not going to invest their time, money and energy into something, unless they feel you have some level of credibility for them to trust you. Education can help build that credibility.
There are numerous way to promote your content. One of the forms of education marketing is called "content marketing". It is usually in the form of an educational tip, article, blog post,or a video. This particular post is a great example of using education in your marketing. You can use education in your marketing as part of your sales process. When I write a piece of content, I like to write in a way that I would want to read it, and I can apply what I teach. With this mindset, I know I will be producing great content that will benefit everyone.
Use content as a process in your sales funnel. When you write content, you still need to apply all the principles we have been talking so far. You need to write content for your ideal customer, identify their pain points, their aspiration, their fear, their motivation, and write content that talks only to that individual.
Before creating your education material ask these questions:
- Does my prospective customer have mis-information or lack of information that is dangerous to them?
- What information, if my prospective customer were to learn, would help them see how important it is to solve their problem now?
- What type of education material I can create, that can help educate and sell my products and services?
Positioning your brand, product and services
Positioning is a game you plan in the mind, not a game you plan in reality. You don't position your brand by comparing your products or services to others. You position your product by creating a new mental category that it can be 1st in.
Trying to compete with an existing market is going to be a tough ask. Try to create a sub-category in a market that already exists and position your products and services accordingly.
Let me give you 2 examples of categories uniquely positioned by ANTSAND.
Trying to compete with well established agencies is a tough game. Instead of competing with them directly, at ANTSAND, we just create sub-categories that we can work with.
For the website maintenance product, this is how we positioned ourselves.
Urgent fixes, do not pay agency prices and get it updated right now. Starting at $49. No monthly maintenance fee.
What already exists are services that fix worpress and other types of websites using monthly maintenance packages. What we try to offer is one time, pay as you go. Like a fast food restaurant. Simple, quick and efficient.
Another service that we offer is our CONCEPT2DESIGN
. Predefined custom layouts we have created, that users can use to design their website, and we can convert these layouts to a fully functioning website. A simple do it yourself editor. Most customers do not know how much a website will cost, how much each section in their website is worth, so we created this beautiful editor that tells the customer what exactly they are paying for. An unmet need and want.
At ANTSAND we even offer ANTSAND BLACK, a premium product that helps our customers have a senior marketing team for quarter of the cost. This too is a unique proposition we are able to position ourself as.
Positioning is a minds game. What is an unmet need your prospective customers have, that you can create a unique mental category around it?
Value ladder marketing
Value ladder marketing, is similar to dating. You do not ask a girl or a boy to marry you on your 1st date. Neither should you try to sell something to someone who has barely even understood what you and your company is trying to do. Customers are people. They want a long term relationship. Build trust, educate and move them up your value ladder. Create a marketing experience that feels like building a relationship with a new friend.
Blogs are a great way to start your marketing journey. Be it in the form of video or written content. It help you build trust with your audience, giving them enough value, that they will feel trusted in doing business with you. Instead of you trying to sell your high end products to your customers 1st, give them your low end, product. It still needs to satisfy your customers needs and give them value. If they are satisfied, gradually move them up the value chain. Small actions steps results to bigger results in the long term. Think long term.
The basic model is to first get a lead. Then you try to convert those leads to subscribers. This could be in the form of a blog post or newsletter. Then we try to convert these subscribers into customers. You have a customer when they actually give you money. When they give you money, you want them to purchase more of your products. This is an upsell. Finally you need to give tremendous value to your customers that you are able to retain them for the long term.
You can get leads using SEO, content marketing, youtube video, social media marketing, paid advertisements, word of mouth, joint ventures and partnerships. Once you have a lead, you can convert them to subscribers by offering something valuable in return. Be it a free video, pdf document or ultimate guide. After you have captured their email address and details, you can continue to educate your subscribers and sprinkle in a sales pitch once in a while. As you keep doing this, you will be able to move your leads through your value ladder.
Below is an example of the ANTSAND's upsell value chain.
This post is filled with examples using ANTSANDs' marketing strategies, ideas and tactics. You can take these examples and apply them to your business.
Give away value for free
Today, the cost of giving value is almost 0 dollars. You can create a video, write a piece of content and publish it online almost free of cost.The more free value you give, you start to build exposure into the market place. It helps your brand to build trust, build a strong relationship with your potential customers. Yet, most business owners do not give any value for free. You might feel it is counter productive and why waste time on giving stuff for free.
Think of giving free stuck, like free wifi in starbucks. With the free wifi, you feel starbucks is not just a coffee place, but a place to socialize, to work or relax. It adds a more welcoming feeling. You form a strong association with coffee and starbucks. As you stay longer in starbucks, you eventually start to spend more money on food, coffee or pastries.
The free wifi at starbucks is similar to your free blog article, ultimate guide, free tools or video content that give tremendous free value to your potential customers. Make them feel welcomed, build trust, build a relationship. Overtime, this trust and relationship will pay of in huge magnitudes. Coffee shops that did not offer any free value, are almost out of business or struggling to survive. On the contrary, starbucks is dominating the market and will continue to do so. Do not underestimate the value of giving away things for free.
When you create a free product worth $100 to $1000+ tell everyone about it. Use social media, influencers, marketers and tell them about your new free product and ask them to share it with their audience. You want to get your free stuff to as many people as possible.
This conclude our marketing strategies section. Now we move on to the next section of our marketing, marketing actions. .
Step 4: Marketing Actions
We now are moving to our last step, marketing actions. We will talk about the different ways in which you can take actions right now to market your product and service using the frameworks we have mentioned above.
Based on this picture, as you can see, there are numerous ways in which you can market your products and services. From social media, content marketing, webinars, presentations, paid advertisements are all ways in which you can promote your product. But the most powerful marketing channel is word of mouth. Nothing beats word of mouth marketing. If you look at the most successful companies today, they have used their products and services to do the marketing. Because their products and services solve an actual need, and give customers the results they are looking for, people start to rave about their product.
Examples like facebook, google, twitter, snapchat, Tesla, SpaceX, are companies that spend little to no money on advertisements, but spend a lot of money on making their products great. This is the ultimate form of marketing. Make great stuff. Nothing can stop you, if what you make is outstanding, and your customersget the desired results they want.
At ANTSAND, the major product that we are developing is the ANTSAND digital marketing platform. When we bring new customers to use our products and services, we provide them with our platform. We keep testing and improving it to make the experience better. Most of our customers website is now powered by the ANTSAND platform. Their website is safe, secure, fast, looks beautiful, easy to update and it helps them get the result they are looking for, from their website.
Tying up everything we have talked about so far, coming full circle, how are you going to integrate your why, how, what and when with these marketing strategies?
In every stage, you need to make your potential and existing customers move up the value ladder. you need to position each of your service and products in such a way that they remember your brand. You need to make sure each of your services and products solves a need, a frustration or gives them their aspiration they were long seeking for. Talk to potential customers and make an avatar in each of your 'whats'. As you transform your business, your customer base should constantly expand. In the beginning, you will have few customers and your products will serve few people. Over time, you must try to expand your reach.
Putting it all together
This post has been a very comprehensive post on marketing.The goal of this post is to help you reach a profitable business as soon as possible. By following these guidelines in marketing, you have a better chance of selling your products and services. Create your roadmap, your customer avatar, your value ladder, the free value that you want to give away and target the right customers who are motivated and have a need. Go out and interview your customers, have a conversation with them and discover their needs, wants, frustrations, pain points and aspiration. With this information, you can create a very compelling marketing campaign. All of these marketing efforts will pay off. You will have a higher chance of creating a profitable business, if you follow the exercise in this post.
Please comment below if you have questions, ideas or how you can apply it. At ANTSAND, we apply everything we preach and teach. What we put out is based on our experience, our failures and success. We love to be transparent, as it really brings out the best in us.
We will soon be creating a $5 monthly marketing package for our readers. You can pay us for one cup of coffee every month, and in turn we give you strategies, ideas, tactics, mindsets and exercises, you can apply in your business immediately. If you want to know more about it, just type in the comments below, "Coffee with ANTSAND". We would love to hear your feedback.
If you want to read other blogs that might interest you, have a look below.
More Stuff from ANTSAND
Business, UI and UX:
My mental maps for success:
If you are a programmer, you can read more on our Programming blogs:
Wait Buy Why
Books -When - Daniel Pink
Stary with your why - Simon Sinek
Positioning: the battle of your mind - Al Ries, Jack Trout