My 6 Core Principles of Marketing
How do you know if your marketing is effective? How can you tell a good idea from a bad one?
In the hustle and bustle created by demand for volume and promo sheets, it’s easy to lose sight of what guides us in marketing. What is it that makes what we do good and worthwhile?
In times like these we must reflect on our core principles of great marketing. These differ from person to person, but I have six principles I revisit often to stay on track. They keep me centered and ensure my marketing never strays too far. Without further ado, here they are.
1. Consumers make emotional buying decisions
Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
Emotion is the main driver of the buying decisions we make. Why does everyone buy an iPhone? It’s probably not because they did an in-depth comparison with Samsung. It’s more likely because it made them feel cool and hip. What do you think drives this emotional connection? Marketing!
Marketing needs to connect on an emotional level. If you take one thing from this blog, let it be that emotions equal effective marketing.
The question is, how can you drive emotion through marketing?
You do this by making your content, design, and brand promise all about your prospects. Apple tells people that they are rock stars. Nike tells people to “Just Do It.” They are calls to adventure. It’s asking people to realize their full potential and the power residing within them.
“Best Quality Since 1905” doesn’t inspire anybody. Telling people your company is “cutting edge” doesn’t either.
Don’t tell people how awesome your product is. Give your audience an emotional experience.
2. Great design supersedes great copy
2014 results show that over the last 10 years, design-led companies have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 219%.
I brought this idea up to my team, and there was a lot of balking and good debate. Let me just say, great copy is of the utmost importance! Bad copy can turn away a buyer or researcher pretty quickly.
However, I believe it is important to create a mild hierarchy between design and copy, placing design slightly ahead (keep in mind I’m more of a copywriter without much design ability).
Consider this: 88% of users will never return to a website that offers a bad user experience. 94% of first impressions are design related. People will never get to great copy if your design creates a bad user-experience or isn’t pleasing to the eye.
You have to fight when people try to add copy that affects design in a negative way. You have to believe that adding text about one more feature isn’t as important as a clean, simple landing page.
Copy and design are both extremely important. But don’t let design suffer in the name of content. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words.
3. Nobody cares about your brand as much as you
This created some controversy on my team as well. People do care about brand names. But they care about themselves more. I frequently hear clients talk about telling their story or letting people know what they are about. Sadly, people really don’t care that much about your story. They care about their story.
You need to give your audience a story they can make their own. This process is called neural coupling. We all do it. When we watch a movie, we subconsciously place ourselves inside the story imagining ourselves as Luke Skywalker. If you make your marketing brand-centric and about how wonderful you are, people can’t place themselves inside the story. You need people to imagine how awesome they will be, not how awesome your product is.
People do care about brands, but in a self-centered way. Brands are simply elements of their story, making them more of a hero. Craft your brand around this idea. People don’t love brands. People love what brands can make them into.
4. Keep it simple and concise
Simplicity is paramount when it comes to marketing. If a prospect doesn’t understand what you’re selling, or what you’re saying makes them feel dumb, they won’t buy from you. Think of your message as a melody or a pop song. Sure, Mozart is great, but trying to hum an entire concerto of his from memory is tough. But if I ask you to hum “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, you will probably nail every note. That’s because it’s simple and memorable.
Your message, product, brand promise, user experience, and website need to follow the “Uptown Girl” model. Make them simple and memorable. Somebody should be able to say what your product does in one sentence. When prospects visit your website, they should know the value you offer in five seconds.
Don’t intimidate prospects by hyping how complicated your product is. Fight the urge to present an entire catalog. Stop bragging about how many products you have. This is just overwhelming to most people and makes them less likely to buy.
Check out this study about the paralysis brought on by too many choices. People are more likely to show interest in a large selection, but less likely to buy. There is some intricacy between information and choice overload, but as a general rule, keep it simple.
5. Friction is the enemy of decisions
Are you making your audience jump through hoops? Not a good idea. Satisfaction with the customer journey is more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction. The more friction you can remove from the conversion/buying process, the better.
Is the mobile experience on your website painful?
Are there too many fields of data required on your forms?
Do you make prospects re-enter information you already have?
Are your informational materials confusing?
Is it hard to find product information?
If you can remove friction from the customer journey, do it! The above questions are a great place to start. If you answered yes to any of them, you have friction that needs to be removed. Ease of conversion is key to customer loyalty and high conversion rates. If you redirect a prospect to 20 different landing pages, they will probably abandon the process.
The demand for ease and a frictionless experience will continue to rise as technology becomes more intuitive and integrated into our daily lives. Don’t get left behind.
6. Everything is accountable to the “win”
This one should be a core principle for life, but it especially applies to marketing. Define what it is you want to accomplish or what it is that makes your company money. Everything you do should be held accountable to whatever this metric or outcome is. Once identified, work backwards from your goal in incremental steps.
For instance, my goal is to drive revenue for my company. One way I do this is by sending leads to our business development and sales team. They aren’t outfitted to handle inbound calls; which means they need qualified lead forms. The goal of most of my marketing campaigns, therefore, is form conversions.
Clicks, impressions, likes, and open rates are merely metrics that guide me toward getting more form conversions. They aren’t goals unto themselves. I don’t care if we got “a ton” of clicks. I want to know how many qualified leads gave me their information. If just a few people did, I want to know why, because that means my campaign wasn’t successful.
You need to apply this logic to all of your marketing efforts and how you work with vendors. Find out what makes your marketing successful and makes your company money. Then hold everything accountable to your win.
My challenge to you
Discover and define your core principles of marketing. Keep them close to you as sail the seas of advertising.
Never stop fighting against those who seek to jumble your landing pages, add more text to your banners, and complicate or convolute the clarity of your story. The road to effective marketing is filled with naysayers who want one more redirect, the word “cutting edge” plastered everywhere, and worst of all, one-pagers that say everything you do.
Don’t let co-workers bring in noise that doesn’t contribute to the goal. Make your goals visible and easy to understand.
If you fight against this friction, if you fight to create emotional experiences for your audience, if you fight against that which doesn’t contribute to your goal, you just might discover the revenue.
Find your principles and keep them close. Good luck and godspeed.