I was in Dallas a few months ago sitting in a cafe with three people having an energy-charged conversation about small business, customer experience and marketing. One of the brilliant people at the table is our guest expert today, Eric Fletcher. Eric has an unassuming air about him, but watch out – he’s a sleeper! Full of fantastic ideas and the determination to make them a reality. He is currently the CMO of a prestigious national law firm and in his former life he was an agency director, broadcaster and consultant. He is a regular contributor to Social Media Marketing Magazine and I enjoy every opportunity I have to chat with him.
Eric, welcome back to March Marketing Madness.
Spreading Your Game Changing Message
No business person I know has small ideas or modest messages. The opposite is almost always true. In fact, the coal that stokes the fire of entrepreneurs and small business leaders everywhere is out-of-the-box thinking that gives birth to innovative products, services and solutions. And it is this kind of thinking that has the power to change the face of neighborhoods, communities and entire cultures.
But let’s talk bottom-line execution. Communication, advertising and marketing demands time and costs money. Significant amounts of both. And for many innovative business women and men, the scope of the idea and the resources available to market it are, all too often, not at all proportionate.
So, in the real world, where entrepreneurs and small businesses play a major role in fueling the economic engine, how do we construct a marketing strategy big enough to reach its intended audience? Or is game-changing marketing reserved for a select few with big-time budgets?
Here’s the good news: marketing success is not inexorably tied to budget. In fact, rarely is budget a critical success factor when it comes to successful marketing.
Now, before your skepticism (or outright doubt) prompts you to exit this post (and before Alicia wishes she could rescind her generous invitation and cordial introduction), let me get to three practical issues that Do define marketing success.
You Will Be Successful In Marketing If…
1. Can you name your TARGET audience?
Admittedly, it is much easier to skip this step, and employ a marketing strategy that insures your message reaches everyone. (Who wouldn’t like to have everyone as a customer – right?). But this is (obviously) resource intensive and is almost always an exercise in futility.
A strategic approach begins with specific target identification. Cookie-cutters are rarely functional; however, generally speaking, the more compressed your timeframe AND/OR the more limited your budget, the more specific you should be able to get with target identification –right down to actually naming names of your desired customers/clients. Need to move 5 units in thirty days? Be able to list the individual names of 15 potential customers, focus on connecting with this list, and you’re on your way to a winning initiative.
There are a number of factors in the equation – timing and length of your effort, the cost of your product or service and the size of your budget are just three. But a strategic marketing plan begins with target identification. Without it, you may as well take to the street with a megaphone.
2. Do you know your TARGET audience?
More specifically, do you know what they care about with respect to your service, their schedules and habits. Do you know their economic realities, and the relationship (in their minds) between price, quality and service? Put simply, this is where you get beyond the name, and learn what makes your buyer tick.
Consider the late 1950’s story of the man who built (literally) a better mousetrap. Tired of cleaning up the mess created by conventional spring-loaded traps (got the mental image?), his new and improved version lured the unsuspecting rodent inside a mini-mouse-sized-dome. The inevitable attempt to free cheese not only triggered a death blow; it sealed the opening to the dome, keeping the mess contained inside.
Only one problem: the marketer did not know his target audience. In the late 50’s in the United States women did most of the shopping for household goods And even though men might have cleaned up the resulting mess – as was the case with the inventor– a cleaner mousetrap was not important to the individual making the purchasing decisions, even though it came at an only slightly higher price. The better mousetrap was a miserable failure.
Know what your target cares about, and you have the foundation for a connection. Find a way to connect over what keeps them up at night or drives them crazy, and you’re on the cusp of marketing success.
3. Can you engage your TARGET audience?
Powerful communication takes place in the context of shared experiences. Walt Disney understood this. An empire was built because he promised his audience a magic experience.
Most of us aren’t marketing a land complete with castles where fairytales can come true; but the principle is no less magical. Engage your market. Share in the aspirations.
It is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook have, to a degree, leveled the marketing playing field. Invest in this three step process, and the shape of your business will begin to change.
Who is Eric Fletcher? Eric is the Chief Marketing Officer of McGlinchey Stafford PLLC, a national business law firm with nine offices in six states across the U.S. A former broadcaster, advertising agency creative director and partner, and professional services consultant, his communications, marketing and business development career spans more than twenty-five years in business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing and sales endeavors. In the professional service consulting arena Eric led successful targeted pursuits for as much as $350M.
A little more than a decade ago the primary focus of his work began to shift to the development of strategic marketing, communication and business development initiatives for business law firms. In this environment, his approach to client team initiatives has produced a better than 15% year-on-year growth rate.
Eric’s approach is rooted in strategic targeting, and the belief that, at its core, successful business development and sales is relationship-based, rooted in the art and discipline of dialogue. His great interests – family, friends, music, (even basketball), and the pursuit of what really matters – provide the best learning environment in the world for his professional adventures.
Eric is an Advisory Board Member for Hildebrandt Institute’s Marketing Partner Forum – the legal industry’s leading marketing thought leadership group. He contributes a regular column for Social Media Marketing Magazine, is a member and contributor for The Social CMO, and blogs about strategic marketing and values in today’s marketplace at http://marketingbrainfodder.blogspot.com.
He and his wife, Darlene, and their nineteen-year-old daughter, Lindsay (a freshman at Baylor University), reside in the Dallas, Texas area.