Effective Marketing Part III

It’s been a bit busy with the Thanksgiving holiday and I’m behind on my posts. My apologies! Continuing in the series on Going Viral, here’s Part III.

In Effective Marketing Part II, I listed three references and a company. I’ll list those here again:

  1. Crossing the Chasm, by Geoffrey Moore
  2. Tuned In, by Craig Stull, Phil Myers and David Meerman Scott
  3. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout

And the company: Pragmatic Marketing

Effective Marketing Part II covered Buttons. Finding out what the customer problems are and the specific words or phrases that represent those problems, and are the specific words or phrases that customers RESPOND to.

All a Button does is capture the interest of a customer or potential customer, to get them to listen, watch or read just a little bit more. The buttons provided your five seconds of potential fame to deliver your MESSAGE.

The MESSAGE is the solution. It’s what your software does that solves the customer’s problem. It’s phrased in the language and terms that resonate with the customer. Note that the MESSAGE is NOT the problem! It’s the solution, it’s what your product does that solves the customer problem.

The message must be phrased in the terminology, nomenclature and even dialect of your target audience. If you’re marketing to Valley Girls, you’re going to phrase that message in terms and language that they are familiar with. If you’re marketing to bankers, you’d better craft your message in terminology that bankers use.

The BUTTON gets them to listen to the MESSAGE. The MESSAGE is the solution to their problem.

Keep in mind that the message is not how great your software is, or how many cup holders your minivan has. The Message is that your product solves your customer’s problem. The plain Jane way to deliver a message is as simple as, “Our widget solves your problems with tribbles.” (Tribbles are little furry creatures that multiply many times faster than rabbits, from an old Star Trek TV episode.)

If you said, “Our widget solves your problems with tribbles,” and if tribbles are a huge button to your customers, they’ll pay attention. But there’s better ways to deliver a message.

If the problem is a swamped help desk, your message can be, “Fantastico improves PC uptime and reduces help desk calls by 25%.” Notice that it doesn’t say how it solves the problem. It doesn’t describe the feature. There’s no detailed diagram of how the feature functions. It simply states that it solves the problem. If you need to have proof because your audience is skeptical, back it up with detailed description.

The descriptive text that backs up the message is not the message! You could say that your message is a headline, except most headlines are pretty lousy. The message is a clean, concise statement of what benefit you’re providing the customer. It also better be true or your credibility is going to collapse, which destroys the effectiveness of future marketing.

The formula is simple: Problem → Solution. Provide details in subsequent documentation, but stick to the simplicity of Problem → Solution.

Problem → Solution. Button → Message.

Another important point about Messages: get rid of the marketing hyperbole! Customers HATE this. Don’t try to score points with your marketing buzzword bingo—tell the facts straight, speak to your customers. How many websites have you gone through, sifting through the extravagant descriptions of products and services and had no idea what the heck the product is or what it does when you were done?

You’ve gone to all the trouble of doing the required market research, found out what the buttons were and got the customer to listen, then when it’s time to deliver the message that you’ve just spent all that time and money to get him (or her) to listen to, don’t turn them off by trying to impress with your command of linguistic legerdemain. (In other words, don’t do what I just did in this paragraph.)

As the line from the old Dragnet TV show went, “Just the facts, Joe, just the facts.” Tell it straight. If you’ve nailed the buttons and delivered your message as the solution in language the customer will readily accept, you will be successful.

You’re two-thirds of the way there with achieving the necessary components for Marketing to drive viral growth. The next blog will cover the third point of Effective Marketing: Positioning.


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