I was listening to a podcast once and the host was interviewing a ‘serial entrepreneur’ who had started and sold over twenty successful businesses. As the interview reached its conclusion, the host asked the interviewee for three tips to help listeners improve their businesses.
“Oh, that’s easy,” replied the guest. “Tip 1: Sales & Marketing; Tip 2: Sales & Marketing; Tip 3: Sales & Marketing.”
In other words, the interviewee credited much of his business success to getting the sales and marketing right. (And I would have to agree with him.)
But where do you start if sales and marketing isn’t your strong suit?
Here follows my advice.
Please, please, please – for the sake of your business – start by getting your positioning right.
Positioning yourself and your business effectively for the market(s) you seek to serve is foundational to your marketing success.
Get your positioning right, and you’ll far more effectively reach those whom you seek to serve.
Conversely, get your positioning wrong, and you could end up wasting a whole lot of time and money.
PATIENT, PAIN, PRESCRIPTION, PROGNOSIS
To get on the right tracks with your positioning, ask yourself these four basic questions:
Who are you seeking to serve (i.e. who is the Patient)?
Why do they need your help (i.e. what Pain is the Patient in)?
How exactly can you help (i.e. what’s your Prescription for the Pain the Patient’s in)?
What benefit will the customer derive from working with you (i.e. what is the Prognosis)?
Most businesses in my experience lead with Prescription in all their marketing collateral – website, social media profiles, content, brochures, advertising, etc. – and while the Prescription is of course important, the Patient cares more about the Pain they’re in and the Prognosis of your treatment. Leading with Prescription can leave your prospective customers thinking you don’t really understand their problems – a bit like visiting a doctor and him / her immediately administering a shot without first finding out what’s wrong with you. Instead, leading with Pain / Prognosis can leave the Patient feeling like you understand and empathise with their pain – which is a huge marketing positive.
My advice, then, is to lead with Pain and Prognosis in all your marketing collateral.
(Psst! If you’d rather entrust your positioning to an expert, contact me.)
Getting your positioning right may very well revolutionise your message across all your marketing collateral (website, social media profiles, content, brochures, advertising, etc.) – and getting it right could save you considerable time and money.
Let’s talk content as just one example. Many people I speak to struggle with content creation. But I can assure you that if you know who your Patients are and the Pain they’re in that you can help solve, content creation becomes a whole lot easier.
So in terms of content, my recommendation is to start creating content that ‘probes the pain’ of your Patients.
For example, I know a bit about LinkedIn. But LinkedIn isn’t necessarily the perceived pain point for the majority of my customers (patients). The pain for the majority of my customers is a lack of clients. So my content consistently seeks to address those challenges, not (just) provide LinkedIn tips and advice (although they may be closely related).
Note that the goal of organic LinkedIn content (for example) is not to sell (directly), but for the publisher to become top of mind for an area of expertise over time, to build rapport and conceive trust. Trust always precedes transaction, particularly with organic content.
(I follow this unspoken rule: Organic for Trust; Paid for Transactions.)
If you completed the Patient / Pain / Prescription / Prognosis exercise that I mentioned earlier in this article, you’ll be better placed to go in search of more Patients who may be struggling with similar Pains.
LinkedIn Search is great for this – but a word of caution. Use LinkedIn Search regularly on the free version of LinkedIn, and you’ll inevitably hit LinkedIn’s Commercial Use Limit. If you do, you may wish to upgrade to Sales Navigator (a whole other subject that I won’t go into here).
For example, if you serve accountants, you’ll find thousands of them with LinkedIn Search. Once you’ve found them, you can follow them and start engaging with their content. Alternatively, if you’re sharing valuable content yourself that would benefit accountants, reach out with a connection invitation and explain that other accountants are finding your content helpful.
Just don’t commit the LinkedIn cardinal sin of connecting to immediately pitch! It’s the most common complaint I hear from LinkedIn users and it’s a sure fire way of burning a bridge to a potential customer before it’s even built.
If you don’t have the patience for organic trust building and want to pitch your services right now, I would recommend three alternatives to the aforementioned LinkedIn cardinal sin:
- Write a letter or send a postcard;
- Phone them and try your luck!
BONUS – PRODUCTISATION
If you’re a service provider, you may also wish to consider productisation – particularly if you want to escape the time-for-dollars trap.
Productisation is the process of turning your service into a product that you can market and sell at scale i.e. if you’re a photographer, could you create an online course to teach others the basics of lighting, focus, composition, etc.? Or perhaps you could create a membership community to teach a large group week-by-week?
In other words, if your time-for-dollars delivery is expensive, productisation can make your service much more accessible to a wider audience at a much more affordable price. And because it’s a product, it’s scalable.
Connect with me on LinkedIn.