Here’s a question: what’s the point of marketing?
What’s your answer? I’ll give you a clue: there’s only one correct answer. I’ll tell you in a moment.
First, I’m going to have a little rant. Just to warn you. But I have a valuable point to make, so stick with me…
Most marketing is a bloody stupid waste of time and money.
No, wait! It is. That’s why I’ve written this book. Because I don’t want your marketing to be a waste of time and money.
Most marketing doesn’t have a purpose. It’s content for the sake of content. Meaningless chit-chat. ‘Clever’ adverts with no reason to respond. Rambling, self-indulgent brochures with no clear message. Beautifully designed HTML emails with no purpose. Fancy letters with no strong call to action.
And, of course, advertising to ‘raise awareness’.
The big brands do it all the time, so small businesses watch what they’re doing and do it too. Because that’s the way advertising is done. Right?
This purposeless advertising and marketing is a total waste of money for small businesses (and for large ones, but more on that another time). If you indulge in it (because it is an indulgence), you might as well put your money on the horses.
Because it’s impossible to measure. If you’re doing this type of marketing, you have no idea if what you’re doing is working. If it’s bringing in sales (which it almost certainly isn’t).
So what’s the point of marketing? That’s right: the point of marketing is to make a profit. Even if you’re a charity or a non-profit, you still need to make enough money to invest back into your organisation.
You’re not Coca-Cola; you can’t afford to splash money on lots of white space with your company name and logo all over it. You can’t afford to ‘raise awareness’ of your business.
You’re a small business, and every penny you spend on marketing has to increase your profits, or it’s wasted.
What you need is direct response marketing. Marketing that works hard for you. Marketing that gets results.
To get results, you need to start thinking about marketing and advertising differently.
I can describe advertising for you in three words: salesmanship in print.
John E. Kennedy, a former Canadian Mountie, described advertising this way in 1904 when he decided to enter the advertising industry.
He was right then and his definition is still right today, 110 years later.
What does that mean for you?
It means that your marketing has to take the place of your best salesman – and if you don’t have any salesmen, your marketing has to be your salesman.
If you were talking to a prospective customer, what would you say to convince them to buy your product? That’s the job your marketing and advertising has to do.
Let me give you an example of a brilliant piece of salesmanship in print. This is a letter by Gary Halbert, one of the most successful direct mail copywriters of all time. It’s called the Coat of Arms letter, and you can download it here. Study it. Write it out by hand. Using this letter, Gary Halbert built a hugely successful business that he eventually sold to Ancestry.com for an obscene amount of money.
Your marketing must put forward all your best arguments as to why someone should buy your product. It must clearly show your prospect what’s in it for them. And it should overcome all your prospect’s objections to buying. Then it needs to ask – strongly – for action.
There’s a lot more to say about all this, and I will – but for now, I’d like you to ask yourself this every time you write a piece of sales and marketing copy:
What do you want the reader to do when they’ve finished reading?
If it’s not a specific action like pick up the phone and order, click through to a website, or buy online, it’s a waste of your time.
Start with your homepage. What do you want your website visitor to do when they’ve finished reading your homepage? Does the copy on the page encourage them – compel them – to do that? If not, start with that question above and rewrite it.
Remember while you might think you’re in the travel business, the accounting industry, you’re actually in the marketing industry. You’re in the marketing of travel industry, or the marketing of accounting industry. Once you get your head around that, you’ll find increasing your profits much, much easier.
Because if you can’t market your business, you can’t do it. If you’re struggling with this marketing idea, my book, Business For Superheroes can help. You can get your copy here.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.