One of the most difficult parts of marketing your company is articulating its vision — and making it stand out. In your head, everything makes sense: you understand the product, who it’s meant to serve, and what sets it apart. But consumers aren’t telepathic; truth be told, what you see in your mind might be a completely different image than what other people see. Those “other people” can encompass many vital figures in your business’ growth: sales associates, audiences, competitors, and more. If your business is flattening, it may be because there’s an issue with positioning, messaging, and competitive differentiation.
Positioning involves the clarity of knowing your target audience; messaging is how well you articulate and market it to them, and how you make your work stand out. Competitive differentiation comes into play when companies seek to understand and rival competitors. If these elements have not been prioritized, or if you agree with any of the below statements, you might need to pause and reassess your marketing efforts.
To know your audience, you have to know what they are typing in and looking for in search engines. If the keywords on your website do not align with the ones would-be consumers are searching for, you will have a much harder time clinching those sales and building your audience. To create website copy or initiate a communications strategy without taking this step is like cooking without gathering the right ingredients: you have to know what ingredients, or keywords, should go in before getting started.
Part of building a trusted, strong company means staying humble, and that can mean periodically asking yourself, “Why should consumers come to me instead of one of our umpteen competitors?” Messaging and positioning needs specificity. Understand what sets you apart — and celebrate it! Similarly, if a specific need arises and its services still fit under your mission statement, adapt and expand. Keywords and competitors evolve, and if your company stays stagnant, it won’t grow as readily.
Wondering if your audience knows what you offer? There’s one easy way to find out: to discover what your base really knows, try sharing a survey. Put together a quick questionnaire and publicize it in an e-blast. Stress that it’s a brief activity, and incentivize it with a company gift card or a cash reimbursement for their time. You’ll want to ask targeted questions that allow survey takers to say what they think you offer and who you serve. Use a blend or multiple-choice questions (which give way to helpful statistics and analysis) and open-ended ones (to hear personal accounts and anecdotes from your customers). Synthesize, learn, and pivot.
This might seem like a silly one, but there’s truth to it. Friends can be a gauge for your work’s messaging, which reminds us of two important elements of building a sturdy brand: those speaking on behalf of a company should be able to distill its mission and work into a pithy sentence, and people will remember what makes companies stand out. To be able to efficiently communicate what you do and who you serve is key not only for friends being able to grasp your work and speak about it eloquently — that messaging is also your silver bullet. Equip your sales associates, representatives, and employees with the gift of being able to soundly storytell your work to make new connections. If everyone’s on different pages, your customers will smell it and be equally confused.
Tight positioning and exact messaging mean you won’t get lost in the crowd. Audience cultivation and marketing is a thorough art backed by research and competitive differentiation. To see how your company can grow with these tools, download this second part of our 7 STEPS OF MARKETING, a guide that walks companies through the seven steps of successful marketing. Each step builds on the last, and at the end of the journey businesses won’t be the only grateful ones: customers will be as well because they’ll more coherently understand a brand and want to support it. If you are feeling like you need a professional to help you through this process, we invite you to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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