Machen MacDonald: Which half of your marketing works? |

Machen MacDonald: Which half of your marketing works?

Every successful business owner or professional salesperson will agree that marketing is a cornerstone to growing and sustaining a thriving business.

Do you know if your cornerstone is a stumbling block or a stepping stone to creating more business?

In college I had a marketing professor that told me marketing is nothing more than telling your prospective clients what you do over and over and over and over and over again. He added many more “and overs.” However, I would add that you need to repetitiously communicate the derived benefit or positive impact your prospective client will experience as a result of doing business with you versus your competition.

It is crucial to differentiate yourself from the sea of sameness known as your competitors in your industry. I am blown away by business owners and sales professionals who cannot articulate their value proposition and what differentiates them from their competitors.

Usually, they respond with such lame answers like – we are trustworthy, honest and we’ll work hard for you. Give me a break, that’s just the ticket to get in the game of doing business. Do you really think anybody is going to consciously choose to do business with a company that is not trustworthy, dishonest and lazy just to save a few bucks?

Test your value proposition by performing the name swap test. Imagine you have a full page advertisement that is adjacent to your competitor’s advertisement in the phone book or in the newspaper. If the company names listed at the top of each of the advertisement were swapped, could your ideal prospective client distinguish the meaningful difference between the body of your advertisement and your competition’s? I would hazard a guess that they could not because both would say pretty much the same things.

So, how do you differentiate yourself? Here’s a hint – it’s all about effectively communicating what you really can do better than anybody else and how that translates into a meaningful experience for the client. It has nothing to do with facts or features of your products and services.

A question to consider is, what forms and frequency of marketing and promotion are you employing in your business-building strategy now and is it working?

The goal is to get your target market to know you, like you and finally trust you enough to exchange their dollars for the perceived value they feel they will experience from your products and services. Ultimately, the best marketing you can do is to exceed your customers’ expectations.

Exceeding client expectations positions you for the best type of marketing that exists – receiving a referral or recommendation.

On your way to working exclusively with referrals, other powerful marketing strategies include speaking at events, conducting workshops and attending networking events such as chamber mixers, tradeshows or leads groups. Be prepared when networking. Become proficient at articulating how you enhance the lives of your ideal client. Be interested in whom you are communicating with rather than trying to be interesting.

Other marketing, if done mindfully, that can be effective includes client appreciation events, targeted direct mail and advertising in newspapers, radio, directories and trade journals. Be clear of the purpose of your advertisement. Do you seek to create top-of-mind awareness in your prospects and customers or to compel them to take action and buy from you through a discount or incentives? Social media is quickly becoming a viable resource as well to drive prospects to your business.

A business owner is well served to hire a professional marketing firm that can help design an effective marketing message and formulate a strategy that coordinates and aligns that compelling message by effectively leveraging events, advertising, public relations and promotions. It’s not an exact science. You will need to continually test and tweak your marketing to dial in an effective campaign.

One more thing my professor shared with me – only 50 percent of marketing works…we just don’t know which 50 percent.

Make it up, make it fun and make it happen!

Machen P. MacDonald is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley. Contact him at (530) 273-8000 or visit

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