When you start your own company, you often feel overwhelmed with all the decisions you have to make and all the different areas in which you need to become an expert. It is important for a new business to promote its product or service. But most small-business people don’t have the time or money to consult an expensive marketing agency to come up with a great idea for an advertising campaign. SCORE NYC mentor and marketing and consultancy expert Lee Simonson advises start-ups to follow the four simple steps of this strategic marketing model to get to the fifth step: marketing and advertising.
Step 1. Define Your Ideal Customer
The first question to ask is, who is your ideal customer? Try to describe them in the most specific terms possible. Gender, age, income, location—all of these aspects are important in creating the picture of your ideal target customer to refine the strategic marketing model for your marketing campaign. Remember, “everyone” is not your customer!
Step 2. Identify Customer Benefits
Now that you’ve found your ideal customer, dig a little deeper into their motives. Why do customers in your business category choose one store or brand over others? What are the benefits consumers derive from shopping in that category? For example, we know that supermarket shoppers choose their store looking for the following key factors: location, selection, price, cleanliness. Another example is the radio station business. Say you are launching a rock music radio station. Listeners choose their favorite station based on the music first, then entertaining DJs, fun contests, and fewer commercials. In Step 2 of your strategic marketing model, you must identify those three or four key benefits.
Step 3. Create a Benefits-Competitors Matrix
Now that you’ve established the main benefits your target audience is looking for, do your marketing research. Create a matrix that lists your business and your main competitors in rows, and the main benefits in columns. Let’s use the radio business as an example in building our strategic marketing model, listing its key benefits. Imagine that you are competing against two other stations in NYC.
Put yourself in the mind of your target customer and rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, yourself and your competitors in each of the key benefit areas. Remember, you are trying to be objective, so try to rate from your customer’s point of view. Here’s what our matrix looks like:
Since you’re a new station, you have a pretty decent idea of the type of music your target audience likes. Still, you lack feedback and experience, so you give yourself a 5 (average) for that. You’ve invested in personable DJs, so that would be a 7. You haven’t had a chance to find partnerships or sponsors, so you can’t do a lot of contests yet. That would be a 2 for you on that benefit. Last but not least, since you’re a new station, advertising firms and bigger companies haven’t found you yet, so you don’t play a lot of commercials. Since most people don’t like their music to be interrupted, this is a true benefit for your station, which explains why you give yourself a 9.
Note: The number of benefits sought and of competitors will differ by industry and company.
Step 4. Identify Your Position
As you review your benefits-competitors matrix, do you see a benefit where you rate higher than everybody else? If so, you have found your “position,” a key benefit around which you can build an advertising/marketing campaign.
In this example, if you owned a radio station and your grade for running fewer commercials beat the competition, then THAT is the benefit to focus on. When Lee Simonson owned a radio station in NYC, that was exactly what he did. For all of his station’s advertising and marketing, he summed up its superior—fewest commercials!—position in the slogan “Nobody Gives More Music.”
Why choose just one benefit? Because today’s consumer is bombarded with thousands of commercials and brand choices daily. Concentrating on ONE benefit that you know is important to customers in your category is smart marketing.
And what if you can’t find a benefit that beats your competition? Then you have your work cut out for you. To create your strategic marketing model, look at your operation and try to improve all the key benefits in your category. Focus on one benefit where your competitors do not score particularly well. Refine it to the point where you deliver it better than anyone else. Then, go for it!