Marketing your ‘good idea’

Jonny Mole, CEO of Chilli, introduces the concept of ‘audience equity’ and its increasing relevance within the emerging ‘connection economy’. In this three-part miniseries, Jonny outlines how the concept applies to the functions of Selling, Marketing and Recruiting within an ambitious privately-owned business.

In last month’s issue, we discussed the role of ‘sales’ within a growing business, and the fact that, inevitably, for the owner-operator to build an asset that they own (as opposed to a small business that owns them) they must empower others to help build a pipeline and close deals.
We concluded that the trick to sales is often to stop ‘selling’ and start ‘connecting’ – finding common ground and leading with a purpose that you genuinely believe in. We considered that by going back to the beginning, and recapturing the essence of the good idea that got you this far in the first place, you might just uncover the ammunition you need most.

So what about marketing?

It used to be simple. Put an ad in the Yellow Pages and the local rag, get a brochure made up, along with some business cards, and carry out the occasional mailbox drop. If you were a big shot, you could create a memorable jingle and catchy phone number for the radio and head along to the annual industry conference.
If you had friends in the right places, you might even manage to land yourself a write-up in the paper.
Most importantly, you’d look after your customers and shout them an occasional beer – because word-of-mouth and referral has always been the best source of business.
For many years, this was the reality of small business marketing. Sure, there were ad agencies that helped out the big guys, with slick TV and national newspaper advertising, articles in glossy magazines, or billboard campaigns – but these have typically been out of reach for the little guy.
Then the Internet arrived and we all needed a website. Success stories like eBay and Amazon got us all excited, with the promise of a ‘global market’ now within reach, waiting to read your online brochure and buy your product online. Search engine rankings and traffic analysis quickly became a key measure of effectiveness.  
Email marketing took off – the ability to send a marketing message directly to everyone in your address book with one click. Then loyalty programmess arrived, plus YouTube, social media, daily deal sites, QR codes, online video and mobile apps.
Today, as we look at emerging technologies like location-based targeting and alerts, mobile payments, augmented reality, touchscreens and gamification – alongside a whole raft of new tools that enable you to ‘do-it-yourself’ – the options available to ‘get the word out there’ continue to expand.
So marketing has quickly become a whole lot more complex. Offerings of all shapes and sizes have emerged – each promising to be just what you need to get more bums on seats, or move more stock.
Marketing consultants exist to help the business owner negotiate their way through the ever-changing world of media, marketing and promotions. They work with you to develop a strategy and a plan, design a slick new identity, or perhaps build you a website. They’ll then often wish you luck in capitasing on it, or offer to project manage the whole process in exchange for a ‘reasonable’ fee.
There is then the option of ‘bringing it in-house’ – perhaps the graduate who knows it all, or your mate’s good friend who once worked in marketing. There are plenty of budding marketers our there, keen to prove their worth and get stuck into solving your headaches.
Paying fees to a marketing consultant, or wages to an internal marketing resource, on top of the fees charged by the various specialists or suppliers needed to make it all happen (who would typically rather work with the business owner direct anyway) is often a tough pill to swallow.
Despite the complexity, getting the word out there and keeping up communication to remain top of mind and to help feed the sales pipeline, is essential to any business that wants to grow.

So where should the owner-operator start and who should they trust?
Here are three good bits of news for the guy with the good idea.

1. We’re going back to basics.
Communication happens when two things exist: a message and an audience.
With the proliferation of channels and tools now available to send and receive a message – and the increase in ‘noise’ that comes along with it – the clearer the message and the more defined the audience, the better.
Whether its a newspaper, Facebook page, website, speech at an event, radio advert, billboard, or something else, the business owner is not alone in wanting simplicity in the face of increasing complexity.
Start with what you’d like to communicate and who you’d like to communicate it to, then think about the best channel to communicate through – not the other way around.

2. The media playing field is levelling.
For years, mass media enabled those with big budgets to ‘buy’ an audience.
Digital media, in particular, has been influential in the shift towards the rise of targeted media. Think about the ability to ‘fast-forward’ TV adverts, the ability to read news articles online, the rise of smaller, niche media and events, and the increasing amount of time we all spend on a growing number of social media platforms.
All of the above have made it increasingly difficult for larger advertisers to broadcast ‘blanket’ messages and made it easier for those with a clear message to more effectively engage with a specific audience. They’re also available to a much broader group of ‘advertisers’.
These emerging, more targeted, channels are fast becoming the most cost-effective and measurable channels through which to engage with an audience.

3. Authenticity rules.
With the growing amount of choice available in nearly every market in the world, people increasingly want to deal with people they ‘like’.
We live in a world where transparency is growing – in turn it is becoming increasingly difficult to pretend you’re something you’re not. Who you are (your brand personality), how you roll (your brand values) and why you are here in the first place (your brand story) are playing an increasing role in purchasing decisions.
Having an authentic brand essence, other than simply wanting to maximise profits, is becoming a key differentiator for some of the fastest growing brands.

Jonny’s top tips for getting your marketing right

The biggest asset a brand can have is a captive audience – an audience that understands why you do what you do and where you create value. A captive audience can keep your business fed for a very long time, whether it is through buying your product, or referring you to those who will.

Be smart.
Take the time to get good advice about what is working and what you should do next. Be prepared to pay for expert skills. Don’t try and do it all yourself, but also don’t jump at every opportunity that comes your way.

Be patient.
Contrary to popular belief, marketing is not simply a means to generate sales. Take the time to figure out what you’d really like to say, and to whom. Then create the tools and employ the skills to do this properly.

Be yourself.
Share what you really believe, let your personality and your values show and tell your story with confidence. Your brand essence is your biggest asset and it is one of the few things that cannot be copied.

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