It was from my landlord.
The envelope was correctly addressed and it arrived on December 24th.
Inside was a pleasant, traditional Christmas card showing a painting of an outdoor scene of a cabin in the snow. Smoke curled from the chimney. An orangey glow in the front window told of comfort and relief from the cold.
I opened it and read the message: “Have a Merry Christmas,” it said, in plain type.
My landlord hadn’t written anything. He hadn’t even signed it.
As I dropped in into the recycling bin, I wondered why he’d bothered to even mail it.
What’s this got to do with you and your marketing?
My landlord evidently had very little (or maybe no) interest in delivering a genuine holiday greeting to me. He seems to have only been trying to fulfill a holiday-time obligation as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
It was unmistakably all about him—his time and his convenience. A Christmas card should be sent for the other person (or should at least give that impression).
And it’s not different with a marketing message.
Now, I am not implying that you would ever be as indifferent as my landlord was, but sometimes, as business owners or marketers, we may send out marketing communications—emails, sales letters, etc.—that, in one way or another, are about us and our products or services. When we do that, it creates various effects:
- The recipient thinks “spam” or “junk mail.”
- They throw it away/delete it without reading all of it.
- They feel disregarded.
- They resent having their time wasted.
If what I am saying seems confusing, I understand. Obviously, you market and promote for the purpose of selling your products or services. So why wouldn’t your marketing pieces be about your products or services?
Of course you have to talk about what you’re selling but the most successful direct marketing starts out paying a good deal of attention to the customer—their needs, problems, and concerns (often referred to as “pain points”).
This is not news. It’s a fundamental of direct marketing: Customers/prospects don’t care about you or your product; they care about solving their problems and fulfilling their dreams.
Yet I see this fundamental being violated all the time.
Here’s one small example: I received a connection request recently on LinkedIn from someone I did not know. Within an hour of accepting their invitation, I got a message from them. They thanked me for the connect but the majority of the message was all about them and their business:
- “I am looking to connect with…”
- “I am really into…”
- “I specialize in…”
- “My idea client is…”
Granted, her message wasn’t overtly trying to sell me anything but it did have a call to action. (“I’d love to talk. Here is the link to my calendar to set up a time that is convenient for you.”) So, it could be considered a small bit of direct marketing.
I was a bit put off by it, simply and only because it didn’t seem to take much of an interest in me.
Now before anyone (particularly the person who sent me the message) protests, let me just say that any marketing is better than no marketing. So, if you’re promoting your business—in any way—you have a certain degree of my respect.
However, effective marketing is the best kind. And the most effective is about the customer and their pain points.
How Do I Do That With My Marketing?
You have to be the audience you’re writing to.
I spent 20 years of my life working in the industrial and automotive industries. Now, I write a lot for industrial and service businesses, tool makers, and similar clients. My experience has given me a good understanding of that audience.
When I am hired to write for an audience I am less familiar with, I do research:
- Customer demographic and other info from the client
- Online forums about the product or topic
- Amazon reviews about similar products
- Online reviews of competing products/services (Yelp can be handy this way) to see what people complain about
A mediocre writer with a good understanding of his audience will always have better success than a “rock star” writer who is less familiar with the audience.
Do enough research, and you can start to take on that audience’s viewpoint. You can understand their attitudes, their biases, and their emotions about their problem and its solution. We all have the capacity to do this.
When you “get into their head” this way, you get a better understanding of how to talk to your audience about their pain points. You know better how to position the benefits of your product or service in relation to those pain points.
All of this falls under “about your audience.” Only after you’ve spent a decent amount of time (or paragraphs) talking about them would you begin to talk about you or your product or service.
People are as cynical as ever about advertising but a well-done direct marketing piece quickly gets past the reader’s cynicism because it talks about their primary interest: self-interest.
As consumers, that’s what we all run on.
So if you’re going to market directly to prospects or customers, always write or speak to them about what matters to them—their concerns, problems, dreams, or fears. Then show how your product/service solves their problem or fulfills their desire.
Need help reaching your audience? I can help you with that. Call me: 323-646-2469 or email steve (at) stevewagnercopy (dot) com