Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are Your Marketing Materials Selling the Wrong Things?

By Stacy Karacostas

A while back I was working with one of my consulting clients, and realized I was once again staring at what I've found to be an all too common marketing problem.

This problem is especially rampant in service industries. But I've seen it with products too.

What's so interesting is that this one, innocent mistake causes you to immediately be guilty of multiple marketing sins (If you haven't read my f*r*e*e report on the 7 Deadliest Small Business Marketing Sins, grab it here:

Once I explain it, if you've been making this mistake you're going to hit yourself on the head while howling out a big, fat "DUH!" But before I do, let me ask you a question

What do prospects really need to know to hire you?

Well, let's start by thinking about what you would want to know

"If you were looking for a chiropractor, bookkeeper, massage therapist, or other service provider, what would you need to know in order to choose them over anyone else?"

Chances are it would be things like:

•A bit about the types of services they offer
•If there is anything unique or different about what they do
•Whether or not the specialize in, or have experience with, your particular issue
•Who else uses them and have they been satisfied
•What you can expect and how long it will take
•How they are better or different than the competition
•Where they are located, their hours and how soon you can get in
•If they accept credit cards or your insurance
•What to do to make an appointment

What you probably don't want or need to know are the basics like:

•What is massage or chiropractic or bookkeeping
•The history of massage (or chiropractic, or bookkeeping)
•Why you need a massage therapist, chiropractor or bookkeeper

Yet time and again this is exactly the type of info service providers focus on in their marketing.

The result is that they end up spending all their time and money trying to convince people they need a particular service. What they should be doing is trying to convince prospects to hire them in particular.

Let's go back to the client I mentioned earlier The one that got me started on this train of thought.

When I first started working with her many months ago, she sent me her brochure to critique. As part of that process, I asked her to describe her ideal client.

She's a massage therapist, and her answer was "Active people who enjoy regular massages and understand that massage is a preventative measure. So they come in regularly for maintenance instead of just showing up when they are injured and in pain, then stopping when they feel better."

This is smart. Because it's going to be much easier to convince someone who already believes in massage to come to her. As opposed to having to convince someone who has never had a massage to try it for the first time.

Yet, except for a few testimonials, her entire brochure was devoted to explaining the basics of massage and why it is good for you.

Of course this makes no sense. If the people she wants to attract already understand the benefits of getting regular massages, and are just looking for the best provider, she's wasting paper (and money) with this brochure.

Because here's the thing

If someone is looking for a massage therapist, chances are good they've already decided massage is for them. Maybe they've had massage before. Or their doctor or someone else in their sphere of influence recommended it.

When they pick up her brochure, or go to her Website, they don't want to learn more about the wonders of massage. They're already sold on it. Instead they want to know why they should choose her as their new massage therapist.

In other words, they want to understand the benefits of getting massages from her, not the benefits of getting massage.

Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs are guilty of the same thing with their marketing. They just explain why you need their type of service, but they never explain why you should choose them instead of the guy down the street.

Are you selling the right thing?

You need to decide whether to spend time and money convincing people they need the type of services you offer Or convincing them to hire you in particular to provide that service.

I highly recommend focusing on the latter. It's cheaper and easier, and you're far more likely to get the kind of clients you want.

So worry less about explaining the basics of what you do, and focus more on the unique benefits of choosing you.


Practical Marketing Expert, speaker and author Stacy Karacostas specializes in taking the stress, struggle and confusion out of growing your small business. For more down-to-earth, business-building wisdom that's sure to save you cash and bring you clients, grab a copy of her free report "The 7 Deadliest Small Business Marketing Sins Are You Guilty?".

Stacy Karacostas. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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