The People, Place and Things of Marketing
Did you as a kid ever play with the writing activity called Mad Libs? A silly story is created by filling in missing keywords. Typically you’d play with a partner and, without reading the story, ask for the specified words… “I need a verb, a number, an adjective, an exclamation.”
You would fill in the missing words provided by your partner and, when finished, you would read the story aloud – often with hilarious results. (The secret was to pick words that were as gross as possible).
Here’s an example of a Mad Lib style story I created a while ago related to brainstorming.
A similar process of filling in the missing content works in developing your strategy to reach customers effectively.
If you want to reach customers in a meaningful way you need to:
- Reach the right PEOPLE/POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS (who),
- with a specific NEED (why),
- seeking a relevant PRODUCT/SERVICE (what),
- by conveying a meaningful, relevant MESSAGE (how),
- in the right PLACE (where) they’re willing and able to pay attention.
- at the right TIME (when),
- using the right TOOL(S) (how)
Fill in the blanks for the following questions:
(Sometimes it is easier to answer NEED first then CUSTOMER)
1. PEOPLE: Who are we trying to reach?
2. NEED: Why do they need something?
3. PRODUCT/SERVICE: What do we offer that satisfies that need?
4. MESSAGE: What is the meaningful, relevant message that will pique their interest?
5. PLACE: Where is the right place these folks are willing to pay attention?
(at work, through the mail, online, at play, while out shopping, when with friends, etc.)
6. TIME: When are the able at this PLACE to be receptive to this MESSAGE?
7. TOOLS: What is the right tool to share this MESSAGE at this PLACE at this TIME?
Example: Tennis Shop Offering Lessons:
I run a sporting goods store and, based on feedback from customers; we are going to add tennis instruction to our services.
Who are we trying to reach? – We know from speaking with our customers that it is mostly our older female clients who buy tennis shoes who are looking for this service. The way they shop with us we know they’re willing to spend money on a quality product. We also understand they are a very busy group.
Why do they need something? – Again, from listening to this customer we understand that they are tired of losing tennis matches at the country club, they are skilled players but want to be better, and they need a boost. We’ve heard complaints that the area doesn’t have good instructors.
What do we offer that satisfies that need? – We’ve determined we should provide tennis instruction. However, we also know this group is very busy. We’ll offer pre-lunch 50-minute coaching sessions – with a focus on “how to think like your opponent.” Finally, we’ll make this a women-only event. No men allowed! This may also create a clubhouse feel for the group that participates.
What is the meaningful, relevant message that will pique their interest? – Hmmm… We’ll have to come up with something clever, but our signage should promote…
- Emphasis on honing skills – we don’t want to promote beginner’s tennis,
- Being a more confident player,
- 50-minute sessions easily fit into someone’s busy schedule,
- Of course, we’ll also have price, time, date, place, deadline, and how/where to enroll, and
- Maybe we’ll promote the fact we’ll have limited slots – keeping the instruction small – but also this could build a sense of urgency to sign up.
- Let’s promote “women only” as well.
When we design our final sign, we’ll create a hierarchy of information. Some information should be large “Hone Your Tennis Skills Like A Master!” for example… Just like signage on your building. We’ll draw them in closer to our content with a headline, then when they’re interested / up close – the smaller print will provide the details.
Where is the right place these folks are willing to pay attention? – Inside our store is the PERFECT place to start. But we also know these people are: At the Saturday Farmer’s Market, at the Country Club, many of them also shop at Trader Joe’s and get coffee at the Starbucks on the waterfront.
When are the able at this PLACE to be receptive to this MESSAGE? – For sure, when they’re shopping for tennis gear and when they’re playing on the courts on the weekends.
What is the right tool to share this? – What is the right tool to share this MESSAGE at this PLACE at this TIME? – With everything we outlined above, a couple of ideas include…
- Flyers that we could hand out to people at the Farmer’s Market.
- Since we have a good relationship with the country club owners, maybe they’ll allow us to have flyers on the check-in counter and in the ladies locker room?
- We know there are a group of women who practice on the community courts. We can laminate a few of the flyers and attach them to the fence at the entrance of the courts. (We’ll get permission, first).
All that said, the easiest and most powerful way to build awareness is among our current customers in our store. We know them. They trust us. They know and trust each other.
Wait! Here’s an idea…
We’re going to create a referral program where – if someone recruits two people to attend the lessons, they get their lessons for free. Furthermore, we’ll give the recruits an extra value (free lunch, maybe?) as an incentive for signing up.
To do this, we’ll print coupons that have three parts. One section for the person recruiting others and one each for the recruits!
In fact, we’re going to re-work this. Let’s make it at lunch time as a luncheon and learn. First, we learn and play together; then we enjoy lunch. We’ll have it catered and turn it into a social event. Wow, this just got fun and is going to be fun and engaging for those who participate.
We’ll update our messaging above to include “Tennis Luncheon” somehow.
As you can see, by using this fill-in-the-blanks survey approach it makes it easy to think about the relevant details of effective communication. Furthermore, it helps build ideas.