These three marketing hacks will help you quickly focus and move your marketing efforts in the right direction.  A ‘hack’ is a creative and effective technique for getting things done. While you read, apply these hacks to a real-life marketing situation you are facing right now– from the launch of a major initiative to a simple campaign.

Marketing Hack #1: Before thinking about the amazing things your product does, dream about amazing ways people are impacted by your product

A reflex marketers often have as they sit down to plan marketing communication is to focus on what our product/service does.  Since good products and services can often do many things, the temptation is to list those things, as if a long list is a better list. (“It slices! It dices! It chops! It minces! It grates! It filets! It writes your kid’s term paper!”)

What your product does only matters to the extent that people are positively impacted by what it does. Focus first on defining the ways people are impacted by your product or service, and let that be the framework of your communication strategy. Then, focus your description of what your product does directly on the important ways people are better off if they buy your product.

For example, let’s say you are marketing health club memberships. As you create your marketing campaigns, don’t just focus on listing your club’s amenities, services and lists of classes. Focus on why those things matter to your members. Are you able to describe the impact you have on people, in a clear and compelling way?

Marketing Hack #2: Think about the customer actions you want your marketing effort to inspire, and focus your communications on encouraging those actions

A simple, yet often ignored, principle of business is that you don’t create your profits, your customers do. You only make money after your customers take action, such as learning about your product, asking questions about it, trying it, buying it, upgrading it, buying it again, telling friends about it, etc.

Effective marketing communications motivate customers to act in ways that drive your business results. By focusing your attention on identifying the actions you want your customers to take after interacting with your marketing communications, you will be able to focus those communications on inspiring those actions.

When I review companies’ marketing plans, I often see plans that are long on the actions marketers are going to take, but rarely descriptive of the actions they want customers to take. Remember — customer action is what creates your results.

Continuing with our example about marketing health club memberships, let’s say you know that new members who take at least two personal training sessions in their first month are more likely to be active, paying members a year from now than new members who never engage with a personal trainer. If this is the case, focus your communications and promotions on encouraging members to take two training sessions, even if you have to give them away. After all, two free sessions don’t cost the club $100; they earn the club thousands of dollars.

Marketing Hack #3: Before you write copy, imagine what you want customers to think after seeing your message.

As any parent or teacher knows, just saying something does not mean you have successfully communicated it. My years of market research have proven to me that there is often a large chasm between what a company says in its marketing communications and what customers think after being exposed to those communications.

In Hack #2, above, we discussed how customer action drives your results, and why you should focus your marketing efforts on encouraging those actions.  As you plan your communications, imagine what your customers would need to think in order to be motivated to take those actions.

Sticking with our health club example, what thoughts or beliefs would encourage a new member to sign up for, show up for and eagerly participate in a personal training session. Write down, in the customer’s words, ten or more statements of what he or she would be thinking or saying if they believed you were the perfect club for them to join and that your personal training sessions are valuable for them. Then, create your campaigns in a way that is directly focused on encouraging customers to have those beliefs.

Marketing is tricky, and often practiced in ways that are ineffective. These hacks can help you create effective marketing programs in ways that are clever, ingenious… and quick.

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