Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marketing isn't hard. We Just Make it Hard.

“Hey Jim. I’m wondering if I can ask your opinion on something?” I get these emails all the time. The most common questions I’m asked? “What do you think of my pricing” and, “How do you feel about my (insert one here) logo, branding, new site, etc...

There are two things that I tell everyone. Number one... Never ask my opinion on something if you don’t want the truth. My friends tell me I should come with warning flags. It’s true. I should. If you ask me what I think and I think something is bad I’ll tell you that. That’s the first thing I say. Here’s the second.

What I think doesn’t really matter all that much. Why? Well unless your optimal client is a 40 something year old, bald, slightly overweight, harried executive who drives a Ford Pickup Truck, is married, has two boys, one in high school and one entering college, who rarely shops, is obsessed with camera equipment but not many other electronics and who spends about 50% of his life on planes and in hotel rooms, my preferences about your branding, pricing and logo aren’t going to do you much good. Frankly, neither will any of the other photo “gurus” who make at least part of a living giving advice to other photographers.

Here’s a better idea. It’s a piece of paper exercise. A sit down with a cup of coffee and an actual piece of paper and a little time exercise. A close your eyes and dream a little exercise.

I want you to think of your ideal client. Form a picture of that client in your mind. Think a little about who they are. This is the client you most want to serve... Now, on your piece of paper write down ten specific traits about this client. Ten things that define who they are.

Here’s an example: “Mom, between 25 & 35, married, works part time, loves her kids, drives carpool, shops at target, listens to hip hop (when no one is looking), is comfortable in her own skin, reads mystery books.” Now give her (or him) a name.

Here’s a little known fact. There is no person named Tommy Bahama. He’s a persona. He’s the outgrowth of a much more detailed exercise just like the one above. Every decision the successful retailer makes is vetted by Tommy. “What would Tommy think?”

Once you’ve picked out your ten traits, think of a few clients who match those traits and make them your own personal captive focus group. When you want to make changes, etc., email them and ask what they think. Their opinion is much more valuable than mine.

Take that piece of paper and pin it up wherever you work. Any time you are working on something related to marketing, take a moment and read those traits again and ask him or her in your mind what you should do. You’ll be surprised how much clarity this will bring in your business decisions!

In the next couple of days we’ll talk about Logo Myopia and a series of other challenges small businesses face. Marketing isn’t hard. We just make it hard.

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