7 Marketing Truths You Can Ignore
By: Wendy Dessler
You’ve heard all of the adages when it comes to approaching a challenge: there’s more than one way to skin a cat, different strokes for different folks, or you could put those aside and look at it like bowling. You can get a strike by putting some “English” or “backspin” on the ball and arcing it in from the left or right. You can get a strike by bowling straight down the middle or you can “granny roll” it slowly down the middle. But what works best for one person won’t work best for another, and a misstep always puts you in the gutter.
Certain things remain constant: the ball has to be moving forward, it has to hit the pins, it has to stay out of the gutter, but there is more than one route to a strike. It’s the same with marketing. Now the status quo leads many marketers to believe certain tropes genuinely define successful marketing, but this just isn’t true. They may define it for some businesses but it is not one-size-fits-all.
In this blog, I’ll cover seven common marketing “truths” and the lessons to learn from them.
It’s All About the Sizzle
Sizzle sells the meat because it gives off a smell that acts as an olfactory appetizer. If it doesn’t smell delicious, the sizzle means nothing. For it to smell delicious, the steak itself must be worth eating. The lesson here is that no amount of sizzle (or creative marketing) can offset a lousy product in the long run. The product itself must be substantive. As a marketer, it’s critical that you understand where your product does and doesn’t excel, and that you work with your teams (often product marketing, and product teams) to make sure those concerns are addressed in any future development/iteration.
Benefits Over Features
This is a “bowling ball” situation. You could arc in from the left or right to make a strike; there’s a lot of play. Often a product has previous iterations, and all that differentiates one product from another is features. Features don’t matter if they aren’t a benefit to anyone, however, so your strategy should focus on the benefit of your product or service instead of its features of it. Consider many of the lifestyle companies out there, like Nike and Red Bull. They’ve been selling the same products for years, but their brand story and marketing focus on the benefit of living their lifestyle and that has helped them become successful.
Tell and Sell
If you don’t shut up, you won’t give clients a chance to think about what you’re selling and come to a decision. Savvy buyers will tune you out and put a block up. Telling more doesn’t always sell more. Maybe it can, perhaps it has, but if this is your only strategy, you lose clients. Instead, tantalize them into exploring for themselves by giving just enough information and equipping them with the tools to ask the right questions and do helpful research.
Here’s the thing: with sensually-central marketing, people don’t remember the product, they remember the ad. Switch this for humor. It’s got a broader range, and people remember what the ad was about. Just be sure you’re actually funny and not offensive. If you take risks but get a laugh, it can make you more relevant and relatable to your core audience. As I mentioned in my first point, be careful not to use humor or sexuality as your sizzle and a proxy for the actual value.
Visibility won’t turn a profit unless visibility comes conjoined with utility, navigability, and desirability. One of the best ways to do this is through technological solutions.
It turns out an appropriate and responsive design of your website is essential as responsive design can respond to a user’s device, screen size, and orientation in real-time to provide a fully functional version of a website regardless of whether they’re using a computer or mobile device to access the website.
With over eight billion mobile internet devices out there, such responsivity is integral to profit in the modern age. If your site is merely visible but not navigable, no one will buy anything. To see a profit, you’ve got to have something potential clients can connect with—that means more than simple visibility.
Just Sell Yourself
What if that which constitutes “you” isn’t that sellable? What if you encounter a customer with pointed questions about your products or services? You definitely want to be personable, but such gregariousness should be metered with professionalism and knowledgeability. This is especially true in marketing. A logo and a pithy new slogan may build brand awareness, but it won’t do much to attain new clients or inspire ongoing loyalty in your current ones.
You’ve got to sell value. Demonstrate to clients how what you do can and does save them money. Geico does it in one line: “Save 15% or more by switching to Geico.” It’s a common example because it’s easily illustrative. Find an example in your business that sells value in a similar way.
Worry About Product, Not Tech Trends
This one is slippery. Yes, your products or services must be at the top of their game. But without proper technology utilization, you lose your competitive edge. You want to ensure your marketing efforts have been successful and will be in the future. Don’t just accept common pithy marketing aphorisms based on where they come from, investigate for yourself to find those strategies which best fit your business then employ those strategies.
A great example known to many gamers is the Sega Dreamcast. They made an exceptional product. The Dreamcast was a console gaming system that boasted 128-bit graphics in 1999, a year ahead of Sony’s PlayStation 2. The Dreamcast also came with internet connectivity built in. Today, these things are assumed. Then, they were new.
But because Sega wasn’t properly appraised of the market, or even because they disregarded the data they had collected in that regard, they released the Dreamcast too early, and it essentially flopped. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 2, which was essentially the same thing but built by Sony, is still purchased to this day despite it now being in its fifth generation. Sega no longer makes consoles, they only make games. Questioning themselves and the status quo around the time of the release may have saved them from this fate and changed the gaming landscape as we know it.