Friday, February 15, 2013

What is your BIG message?

Before you start your marketing plan, there are a few things you need to be very clear about.

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What do I really have to say to them?
In fact, always start there. The other things will flow from clarity in these two very basic areas. You would be surprised how much marketing, advertising and overall communication is sent out every day without a handle on these basics.

What is your BIG message? You may have a thousand benefits that crush your competition, but one specific advantage should stand out. Here are a few things to remember;
  1. Price is seldom enough. Having great pricing is important, but it won't drive most decisions.
  2. Your BIG message should be based on the wants, needs, desires of your audience. 
  3. The marketplace, in almost every instance, is infinite. Seriously, no matter what you do and where you are, your potential customers have almost unlimited (AKA Internet) options. You have to break through with compelling, solid reasons for them to choose your product or service.
  4. Your BIG message should clearly show how your product or service is a better choice than your competitors'. 
An example of a BIG message could be something like: 
We provide detailed care instructions and ongoing "tech" support with every exotic plant we sell. 
In a market where most exotic nurseries probably advertise primarily about varieties (and customers may need a little reassurance that they really can be successful with delicate plants), after-purchase support could be a differentiator.

So, to get to your BIG message,   
  1. Think about your target customer. (See "How do I get started?" blog, 2/14)
  2. Think about what they really want from you. (beauty, fame, great dinner, success with tropical plants)
  3. Think about how your product or service helps them achieve their goal.
  4. Write down no more than 2 sentences that describe the feature you offer that pushes them toward their goal.
Remember, this is not about what you want to tell them. It is about what they need to hear in order to choose your product or service in an infinite market. 

This is what is sometimes called your Value Proposition. Now, step back and read your Value Proposition as if you don't know anything about your product or service. Email it to your Aunt who isn't clear on what you do and see if she can rephrase it. When you are sure it is very clear, put it aside for a few hours and read it again. Your business is evolving. Make sure you keep your Value Proposition clear and current. 

Now, make a stream-of-consciousness list of other benefits you offer. Price, delivery, proximity, quality, uniqueness, healthy/environmental/socially conscious choice, customization, large number of options, guarantees, certifications, etc. You get the idea. Put down everything.

Go back to thinking about your customer and what they really want and put these benefits in order of importance to them. Think about this Value Proposition and this Benefits List in contrast to what they are doing now and to other available options. Does it make a compelling argument for choosing your product or service? 

If not, it's time to step back and rethink. If you aren't convinced that your product or service is the clear winner, what can you do to improve your position in the market?

NEXT: First steps for your Marketing Plan.

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