Book Review – This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See

By Bennet Owuonda, CHIEF

Our Perceived Reality

People don’t buy the car for the bells & whistles of park assist, power seats, invisible cupholders, mood-lights, panoramic sunroof, or the Carplay experience; rather, they Buy the Feelings that come with owning the car offers them. People don’t buy what you make; they buy what helps them solve a problem that they have using what you’ve made!

Marketing success in today’s world comes from focusing more on the Needs, Values, and Desires of your target customers, rather than spamming as many people as possible with your marketing messages! Marketing & Advertising as we’ve known them in the classical form are Dead!

Most companies who think about Marketing; think it means ads, where they believe that trying to put their product or service in front of as many possible eyes feels like the obvious answer to achieving more sales, right? With the information age in full swing, it’s time for us to consider a broader and more wholistic understanding about What Marketing Really Means Today!

The secret to effective & Innovative Marketing lies in finding a basic Need or Desire that your target customers Want & Create something that addresses that demand! Take any need like freedom, belonging, connection, strength, or adventure and find ways to fulfill that need through Empathy.

You don’t have to steal from your competitors to broaden your market share; instead you need to talk to them by showing Empathy and offering great services. Empathy is at the heart of marking, so once you’ve discovered how to empathize with your customers, you’ve got the beginning of a great Marketing Strategy.

Marketing is the generous act of helping others solve their problems. That’s why you want to reach the masses, except that the masses are the masses for a reason; they don’t want to change & they don’t want your product! Social Media promises interrupting the right people at low costs. However, interfering and creating more noise in the already crowded internet space is NOT Marketing, it’s fighting for attention you don’t yet deserve!

Your prospect customers already exists; and it’s your job as a Marketing Agent of Change to find them (that’s everybody at your company including you!)! Those people currently have values, needs, and desires that you’re trying to attract, but how do you discover the people within organizations who already Want what you’re offering but don’t know it yet because you haven’t reached them?

What you can do is try to understand your customers and their desires better by connecting with them, being their friend, and make them trust you so that they can start sharing with you their Concerns & Deepest Desires. Think about it this way, it doesn’t make any sense to Make a Key and then run around looking for a Lock to Open! Instead, what you need to be doing is to Find a Lock and then Design a Key that opens it!

Instead of trying to persuade more people to listen to you, try listening to them Empathetically. Hear what they have to say and make a product or service that meets the needs of those customers. The ones who aren’t satisfied with what’s already out there today. Make a difference! Make a Change! Make your work count for a group of people whom your skills can satisfy their Wants!

What “Changes” are you Trying to Make?

If you’re in business as either an owner or an employee, you’re trying to change something, so what would you like to change? What promises are you trying to make to your prospects? Who are you trying to change (What’s your market)? In what ways are you trying to change others into adopting a new Growth Mindset?

When we get into business, we begin with a worldview and invite people with similar worldviews to join us! In today’s day and age, DON’T pursue everyone because everyone is average, and you DON’T need to satisfy everyone & offend no one because that’s simply a lost cause. Start instead with the Minimum Viable Market, which represents the smallest number of people you need to cater your efforts towards.

Build something remarkable by making it the leanest & smallest viable version of your product or service (Doesn’t have to be perfect at this stage) then engage with your market to gather feedback, improve your product or service based on hard-evidence, optimize your offering by competing with yourself, and repeat!

Here are five (5) steps to develop an effective Marketing Strategy:

  1. Invent something “Worth Making”, packed with a story worth telling, and contributing to something worth talking about.
  2. Build it in a way that few people will greatly benefit from & care about.
  3. Tell a compelling story that is authentic and matches the narrative of your company.
  4. Create something that is worth spreading.
  5. Show-up periodically and consistently to lead the change you want to make.

To stand-out with your Marketing Strategy in a crowded mob of companies trying to market their products or services, consider the following six (6) approaches to Strategically Market your offerings:

  1. Committed & creative people can change the world by projecting what they’re offering to specific groups of people whom they’re targeting.
  2. You cannot change everyone’s mind or convince them with what you’re offering, so you need to ask for permission first before you could offer change.
  3. Change is best made with intent, consistency, and an open-minded approach to see the world from your customer’s prospective.
  4. The stories people tell themselves are true in their world; whether they’re factual or not is irrelevant, so it’s the marketer’s job to streamline their offering to their customers’ reality.
  5. People can be grouped according to the stories they tell themselves because that would directly impact how you market your products and services to them.
  6. What you say isn’t as important as what others say about you because whatever you claim about yourself is Bragging, whereas, what others say about you is Proof!

By completing the following sentences, you’ll be able to narrow your focus to a group of prospects who would appreciate your offerings:

  • My product is for people who believe that …………………………
  • I will focus on people who want to …………………………………
  • I promise that what I’m offering will help you get…………………

Here are eight (8) steps that will help you develop a pull-based vs. push-based Marketing Strategy for product or service:

  1. Start with Empathy by asking: “What problem can I solve here and for whom?” instead of asking: “What business can I build?”
  2. Focus on the smallest viable market as your Entry-to-Market Strategy.
  3. Match your offerings with the Worldview of the people you’re trying to serve by telling them compelling stories that they want to hear and in a language they understand (This is the toughest thing to do that I’m personally still trying to perfect).
  4. Make it easy to spread; especially if what you’re offering is tangible.
  5. Earn the right of attention & trust from your audience.
  6. Get the right people on the bus (your team) and project their skills in your offerings to customers, and the rest will take care of itself.
  7. Create tension and suspense to make sure that prospects remain curious in an effort to retain their attention and engagement.
  8. Show-up often with humility and do what works by standing-by your promises.

To be an effective marketing specialist without having a marketing degree, match your offering with the Worldview of the people you’re trying to serve. Show-up in their world with a story that they want to hear, told in a language they’re eager to understand, and the sale happens organically!

Why Should Anyone Care about You?

We’re all the heroes of our own stories because we think we’re right! Everybody believes in things that you don’t, and everybody wants things you don’t want! So, how would you build “something better” & “according to whom” because “better” is not up to you, it’s up to the customer! “Better” is subjective because it depends on the Worldview that your prospects have about themselves and the world around them, where buyers choose the best products for themselves, so does that include what you’re trying to market to them?

In a world where choice is abundant and time is scarce, why would people choose you? That’s why it’s important that you begin with a specific problem that needs solving for a small segment of audience, which means going to the extreme and finding an edge for yourself to become Remarkable

In other words, what makes you special from your competition based on your prospect’s point of view? Nobody cares about what you think, so get over yourself and accept it as it is and move on!

In your attempt to market your product or service to your prospect, NEVER change their story; instead, add yours to theirs by seamlessly streamlining into their narrative because you’ll find little resistance that way.

If you happen to be as crazy as I am in wanting to start a new industry by swimming upstream against the current of the status quo, then here are five (5) simple steps to create your own market and dominate it:

  1. Identify: Identify a problem that bothers you to the extend where you want to do something about it.
  2. Quantify: Quantify the problem in metric values to wrap your hands around the problem to articulate why should anyone care about it.
  3. Empathise: Map-out and understand the worldview of the culture you seek to change and avoid confirmation bias.
  4. Hone-Down: Focus all of your energy on the segment you plan on addressing and ignore all else by focusing on building and living a story what will resonate with the culture you are seeking to change.
  5. Deliver: Develop a continues improvement process that allows you to gather feedback, refine your solution, rerelease it again, and repeat so that your offering self-corrects its course over time.

Beyond Commodities

Genuine marketers don’t start with the solution, they start with the problem that their customers are struggling with because they want to make a difference and make things better. If you make something that others make, your value is limited because your customers know more about the competition than you do!

If it can be manufactured in China, get-out of that market because you’ll be “Pushing a Rope”! To “Push a Rope” means to perform a thankless or fruitless task. Ropes, almost by definition, can only be used to pull things, not to push them! The expression “Pushing Rope” means to try pointlessly to do something that cannot be feasibly accomplished.

When you know what you stand for, you don’t need to compete with others because you’ll find yourself competing with yourself. If you merely seek to fill a gap in the market, you’ll constantly be looking for the competition to snatch the rug from underneath you. You need to find, build, and tell your story so that your business is based on Possibilities, NOT Scarcity!

Don’t try to please everyone, instead cater to the needs of a few because the people you serve are going to determine your future. Imagine attracting people who only complain and are only buying from you because you offer the lowest price. If the core reason they shop from you is your low prices, then the moment you increase your prices (that’s an inevitable fact), you won’t have anyone to sell to! Price is probably the worse differentiating factor between you and your competitors

What’s your Story?

Storytelling engages your customers with what your offerings, where it brings them into your world by creating Empathy & Connection to your Brand. Customers who identify with your offering on an Emotional Level are much more likely to turn into Loyal Customers.

Storytelling can go along way for you if done right, so here are ten (10) things that good stories can do for you:

  1. Seamlessly streamlines your Purpose & Vision into your daily activities so that your actions become authentic.
  2. Allows you to inspire others by celebrating your triumph and overcoming hardships & setbacks that allowed you to get from here-to-there (Hero’s Journey).
  3. Deepens your understanding about your unique value & what differentiates you in the crowded marketplace.
  4. Reinforces your core values; especially during setbacks because it reminds you what it’s all about.
  5. Helps people remember you because people can recall stories much more vividly than features or fads.
  6. Encourages you to rapidly respond to customers instead of reacting to the marketplace (Proactive vs. Reactive response).
  7. Builds strong Brand Loyalty & gives customers a story that is worth telling & spreading (Testimonials through word-of-mouth marketing).
  8. Attracts the kind of like-minded employees whom you want to bring onboard to help you propel your mission.
  9. Helps you stay motivated to continue producing work that you’re proud of; especially when odds are mounted against you.
  10. Attracts investors who want to support businesses that represent their owners’ values.

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