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The one thing that determines the success or failure of your marketing

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Marketing, Advertising, Small Business

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Wow, pretty grandiose title. But this is one area where understatement just won’t do. If more companies understood this one concept, their marketing would actually stand a chance of doing its job.

Before we get to this big idea, though, let me define what the job of marketing actually is. Ultimately, it should be designed to convince people to do business with you. That’s it. Every thing else related to marketing should all be done with that end result in mind, because that’s where it should all lead. Product, pricing, placement, promotion, and people need to all point in this direction. Every campaign aimed at increasing mindshare, raising product recognition level, penetrating new markets, or any other specific short-term goal is designed to convince people to do business with the marketer. Or at least it should be.

So how do you do that? I’m not going to talk specific tactics in this article, but rather about the common unifying concept, which if understood, will direct a marketing campaign to success. The idea is actually so simple that you might be disappointed. But it’s so powerful that it will determine the outcome of your marketing.

Here it is: everything you do in marketing should clearly and explicitly tell the consumer how you will make his or her life quickly and dramatically better. If you can communicate that concept in a way that the consumer believes, and more effectively than your competition, you’ll never lack for business.

The problem that the overwhelming majority of businesses I work with have is that they are approaching their marketing from the wrong end. They’re focused on their company and their product rather than their customers. The ask questions like “How can we show people how great our product is?” rather than “How can we show people how much we can improve their lives?” I often get initial disagreement from company owners and managers when I first propose this. To most of them it’s a completely new concept. They have, since the beginning of their business life, been trying to figure out how to outshout the competition. The problem is, they’ve been shouting the wrong thing.

For those who disagree on this point, let me make this statement: the consumer doesn’t care a bit about your product or service. They really don’t. They care about what your product or service does for them. Or in other words, how it makes their life better. The product or service is just a means to an end. Most marketers have gotten comfortable with the idea of selling benefits rather than features. But let me take that one step further by introducing a concept I call the Ultimate Life Benefit (ULB). The ULB goes beyond selling benefits. It shows the consumer how his or her life will be quickly and appreciably improved. And most products have many ULB’s.

To get to this way of thinking, list the benefits of your product or service and then ask yourself “And then what happens?” For example:
Feature: SPF 90
Benefit: Protection from sunburn
ULB: Your kids don’t suffer pain or skin damage. They are happy and healthy.
See what I’m getting at here? If you just go as far as selling the benefit, you haven’t communicated to the consumer how his or her life will clearly be better. The benefit is “Protection from sunburn.” Go ahead and tell the consumer that they’ll be protected from sunburn. Repeat it as many times as you like. Shout it loudly. You’ll get some results, but not great results. Shift your message to showing the results of the benefit, and the mental connection is made quickly and completely in the mind of the viewer. Show them exactly how your product delivers the benefit and produces the ULB and you’ve got them.

The trick here is to show exactly how your product or service leads to the ULB. Don’t just say or imply that it does, but rather demonstrate it explicitly. Don’t assume that the consumer will make the mental connection. I don’t know about you, but most people are too busy to figure out what advertisers are trying to say. Next time you’re watching television, pay attention to what advertisers are showing you. Most national advertisers are showing ULB’s. One of the most frequent and most obvious is commercials that show how using their product will make you more attractive to the opposite sex. Use this razor and get the girl. Use this mouthwash and get the girl. Drive this car and get the girl. Wear these clothes and get the girl. You get the point. The successful ads are the ones that make the connection clear. Car commercials are another good example. They don’t just say that the car is fast. They show you how you can enjoy unlimited freedom with that kind of horsepower. Jewelry advertisers don’t just talk about the total carat weight of their diamond jewelry. They show you the reactions of your friends when they see your new necklace.

A lot of advertisements miss completely, though. The advertiser is trying hard to get us to associate their product with something. But they fail to communicate it in a way that causes the viewer to make the mental connection. The commercial makes no point and is quickly forgotten.

Even the most mundane product can benefit by incorporating a persuasive ULB. Whatever you sell, there are benefits to it. Take copier paper for instance. Your paper may cost less, or cause less jamming, or maybe it’s brighter and sturdier. Whatever it is, it has a benefit. So then what happens? If it jams less, then you can concentrate on the important things, instead of continually fixing the copier. You get more work done, you make more money or get a promotion or whatever you choose to show. The benefit is that it jams less. But the ultimate benefit goes beyond that.

Every product has at least one ULB, most have quite a few. Find them and communicate them to the consumer, and they’ll have no reason to resist. They’ll see that it’s in their best interest to do business with you. And once that happens, just make sure you’re stocked up.

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