I have looked at many ideas about what the essence of marketing is, and I have learned that at base, marketing is behavior modification.
This is because when we reach out to our markets, we are asking for specific behaviors. In broad terms, the behavior we ask of our markets is one of the following:
- Do something different than they are now (start using our product/service, or choose it instead of the one they’ve been using).
- Keep doing what they’ve been doing (continue to choose our product/service instead of switching to something else).
- Keep doing what they’ve been doing (choosing us), but choose a new option (an additional product/service or upgrade to the next level).
All marketing efforts are variations on these themes, and they need to be framed in the context of showing that we have what the market wants.
If we’re asking for a different behavior, we have to show why switching to our offering is the best value for the client/consumer. In political campaigns, this is the position of the challenger who has to make a case for why change is the voters’ best choice.
If we’re asking for a continued behavior, we have to show why the status quo offers the best benefit. For candidates, this is known as running on your record.
If we’re asking for an upgrade, we have to spell out why the new option is an improvement on the market’s previous choice while retaining the original advantages.
When we use the right ask as combine it with the two questions all marketers must answer (“What’s in it for me? Why should I pick you and not the other guy?”), we have a very good chance of improving our success rates.
With this approach, you focus on the consumer, not on yourself or your organization. It becomes much clearer how to frame your messaging to get the response you want.
Examples of this can be seen on the home page of sites we’ve visited. When we search online to find answers to a problem and get to a page that sounds like it might help, we often get a wall of type that describes at length how wonderful the site owner is, but doesn’t explain how they could address our problem. So we click off the site, never to return. Yikes.
If you’re trying to figure out which approach is the best one for your marketing, it is best to treat this exploration as a team exercise, whether the team is your staff or close associates or clients. And it often helps to have an objective provide you with that objective ear.