What if you built a house and the foundation was cracked? Or not installed properly? You’d see cracks. The floors might not be even. You’d be making constant repairs, spending money to fix the resulting issues while never fixing the actual problem. Eventually, the whole house would fall apart.
Marketing is like that house. We often see clients or potential clients who come to us searching for a fix when the harsh truth is, they need a new foundation.
What is the foundation of your marketing?
Your business’s foundation is what you stand for, why you started, or what you’re trying to do (aside from earning a living). All roads lead back to that.
The foundation of your marketing starts with that: the why. We recently sat down with our salesperson to re-examine our unique value proposition here at our marketing agency. Your why should be in that statement — and should be an explicit part of your marketing. The foundation of your marketing includes:
- Who you are
- Who you are not
- Why you’re different
- Why you do what you do
- Whom do you serve/whom do you not serve
- What value you offer your customers/clients
- Why I should work with you or buy from you
Knowing all this will help you build the foundation of your marketing. The language you use to describe the above points becomes your culture. That language is used on your website, brochures, by your sales team, and everywhere.
How to Create Your Marketing Foundation
That all sounds easy enough, right? Well, sort of. Digging into that feels like work — or a bit like therapy. You’ll need to schedule some sit down with the owners, managers, and team. Someone can take the lead at the whiteboard.
How can you answer the questions above? What do you tell people now about your company and what you do? What words do you use? Which words should you all avoid? You may need multiple sessions, but in the end, you should produce a statement or two that summarizes all of this and becomes the foundation of your marketing.
That statement isn’t necessarily the same as your tagline, but it might be close. You’ll likely create versions of it for your sales team to use while networking and other variations for your brochures. The point is that the core of who you are and the why is in there.
Common Marketing Foundation Mistakes
Catering to everyone. Many companies want to serve everyone. And, as you may have heard, by helping everyone, you serve no one. Sure, McDonald’s can serve a cheeseburger to Bill Gates and the person who earns $12,000 a year. But for most businesses, especially small, growing ones, it’s best to define who you are. People often choose brands that “get them” or align with their beliefs and values. America has so many people; you can’t mean the same thing to each person.
Sounding like your competition. Marketing agencies are everywhere, even here in Raleigh, so we really had to dig in to figure out what makes us different. You might face the same challenge. What words does your competition use? What words do you hear in your industry all the time? Avoid those if you can. This article in Entrepreneur explains seven factors to help your brand stand out.
Unwillingness to adapt. People tend to stick to the same way of doing things and sometimes it isn’t effective. Be willing to change something if it isn’t initially working.
OK, this sounds great, but does it matter?
Yes, it does. Think about the cornerstone items in your marketing, such as your website. The colors you choose, the statements you make there, the font — all of it expresses something about your company and tells customers who you are, what you do, and why to pick you. In crowded industries, you need to make it immediately clear to visitors that you’re the right fit — or not — for them.
At a marketing conference we attended a few years ago, one of the speakers talked about this. She uses her clients’ fans to help find what’s different. What do your fans say about you? Why are they willing to leave reviews and refer business to you?
Let’s use a dentist as an example. A dentist may say to us, “I’m not getting any new patients.” Dentists are a challenge because one might argue that most dentists are the same. Plus, most people don’t love going to the dentist. While the office location is one of the critical factors for people choosing a dentist, your dental practice must somehow stand apart from the others in the same five-mile radius. How are you doing that? Your marketing foundation is the key.
Back to the wasted money.
Without that foundation, you’re “just another dentist.” You’re spending money on direct mail around your office, social media ads, and your website looks great. But what really is going to make me choose you over someone else? Rather than spending all that money with minimal success, you should go back to your foundation.
Once you have that foundation, you can change how you approach marketing strategies such as those direct mail postcards. And that’s when you’ll see growth.
Confused? No problem. Just contact us for help!