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This is the last blog post of 2015.
Over the last month, I journaled my thoughts about necessary steps in marketing strategy that a lot of companies avoid. Here are three excerpts.
CULTURAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND NOT FAKING IT
It's critical that you do cultural research when building the profiles of your target markets. What, in their culture, matters to them? What is optional and what is required in their daily lives? Whether the culture is founded in religion, politics, hobby, lifestyle, region, age, time...develop the sets of priorities and identity factors that matter to that culture.
Then reflect these in your marketing campaigns.
You have to acknowledge that you deeply understand your people, more than any other business. You have to demonstrate with every line, every graphic, every funnel, that you know exactly how they move and how they think--because you do.
You can't fake this one. You can't use generic language and stock photos and data that you got off Wikipedia or whatever. You have to get in on the ground level. You probably started your business while you were already on this ground level, because you're already part of this culture and you wanted to make something great to help your people. If so, awesome.
But if you're breaking into a new market with a new product and you're not part of that culture, you have to get in the field and do your research. And not just research like controlled test groups. Real world stories. Gather as many as you can, experience as much as you can, then identify the patterns of needs in the culture of your target market.
And every year, send employees or yourself into the region to make sure your products are actually doing their jobs, and meeting the culture's missing needs.
You'll read countless articles about what drives a person to buy. Marketing drives up to a certain point...from there, the potential customer's motivation takes over. (Their motivation can be largely influenced by the moment itself, it can be distracted by the environment, or it can be rationalized out of its energy behind the motivation, but we're going to focus on motives today.)
Daniel Pink, the author of several books including TO SELL IS HUMAN and DRIVE, states that there are 3 key motivations that drive a person's behavior and decisions:
1. autonomy -- the desire for freedom over making our own decisions
2. mastery -- the desire to become better at something
3. purpose -- the desire to know clearly why they are doing what they're doing
Marketing's job is to nurture one of these motivations as it relates to the target market. You have to understand which of these three things your prospects desire most (create your customer avatar and do your research!) and then build that motivational message into your marketing experience for them.
Every touchstone should affirm why you are the best solution, how you're going to fulfill that motivation, what avenues (service, product) they will navigate to meet that goal.
Why are lifestyle bloggers and the products they promote so popular? Because they constantly educate a large audience on the mastery of that lifestyle. If you live this way then you fly this airline, wear this clothing line, drink this vodka, use this salon service, donate to this charity.
How does your marketing campaign embrace and affirm one of these key human motivations?
Rewards are a form of marketing that build a sense of belonging. By giving your customers a reward, you are qualifying them and acknowledging them. Rewards represent one of two actions by your company: a thank you, or an invitation.
There are six ways to reward your customers:
1. Incentives -- if they complete an action or commit to you in some form, they get a reward
2. Post-Action Surprise -- after completing an action such as a purchase or opt-in, you send them bonus content or let them unlock a level of service or reward them with a free sample in their shipment
3. Collections -- you appeal to the completist nature and reward them for taking multiple steps or acquiring a set of items with an emotional and physical qualifying gift
4. Lottery -- giving them a chance to win something big. This doesn't have to be money. It could be a benefit that will change their life forever. Money isn't the only reward.
5. Random Reward -- a gift sent that feels "outside the funnel" but it really isn't. This is the chance to demonstrate gratitude and mutual acknowledgement.
6. Gifting -- The company builds emotional or psychological rewards within customers by encouraging them to gift to others. Gift cards, pay it forward, sending a branded card, subscribing a family member to a service, helping them unlock a level.
Which rewards are you implementing?
Are they thank you's, full of gratitude, or are they invitations for a customer to get to a next level of acknowledgement by your company?
You should test both. Which would your prospects respond to better: a thank you, or an invitation?