As CEO of Optimal Targeting, David is known to be the go-to expert for all things marketing. He is a wealth of knowledge and doesn't hold anything back!
I had the opportunity to meet with David and draw out some of his best insights.
It was fascinating for me to discover that almost everything we discussed fit into a neatly defined system. David shared a four stage process for building a marketing strategy. It's easy to understand and easy to follow. It's also very practical, with lots of insider examples.
But don't let the simplicity deceive you. This work is foundational and important even for you smart people :)
Before we dive in, let's start with a quick overview:
- Discover why you belong.
What is your unique selling proposition?
- Craft the story of why you exist.
What is the story you are telling the world?
- Create a marketing strategy.
How do your marketing channels relate to the brand story?
- Make a lasting impression.
Are you telling a consistent story with every customer interaction?
Ready for the good stuff??
In David's words:
1. Discover why you belong.
When you enter into business you have to understand where you fit into the market. Does the market even need your service?
What is your unique selling proposition?
When opening a local brick and mortar business, it is a little easier to see if you belong. You can say, "There's no other pizza stores at this location. I'm servicing this area.” However in the world of online commerce, everything is global.
I once had people who came to me and and said, "We're going to create a search engine to compete with Google." And I said to them, "Well, do you have something to offer that is better than Google?" The answer was no. They simply said, "Here's $40,000, go invest it. All I need is one percent of the market, and I'm rich."
But they didn't realize that you can't even get one percent of a market if you don't have a reason to be there. You need to have a niche. You need to have a unique selling proposition. You need to be doing something better than somebody else. And you if don't have all those things, you don't have a reason to exist.
There are lots of people who think that if others are successful in a particular industry, they could for sure do it, too. They realize too late that they need to have a strategy planned out before they jump in. It’s important to always be thinking, “What am I trying to achieve here?”
There is nothing wrong with having a plan and the plan failing. You tweak your plan, pivot, and try new things. That's the right way to do it. But a failure to plan is a plan to fail.
People often come to us at Optimal Targeting after their business and website is all set up. They say, "Here. Market my company." In reality, there is so much more work that needs to be done before we can market. If we would skip the stage of developing a unique selling proposition, it will cost them so much more money long term. Therefore, we always start with positioning the company and differentiating it from it's competitors. Only then can we market it to the world.
At Optimal Targeting, our unique selling proposition is delivering quality marketing advice on an expert level. We want to be seen as the authority in the industry.
When someone is looking for a cheap job, they will not send it to us. But if they're looking for quality work and want it to get done well, we're the right address. People feel comfortable spending a large amount of money with us, because they trust us.
2. Craft the story of why you exist.
Establishing a brand story is the secret to all effective advertising.
Ask yourself, “What is the story you want to tell to the world?”
Make sure that your advertising and social media stay true to that brand message.
Business owners can sometimes get sucked into the cycle of advertising sale after sale. If you speak to them they would say, "We're an upscale boutique." So I ask, "Why are you telling the story that you're cheap? Why are you telling the story that you're a discount brand? Why are you telling the story that you don't offer quality service? The marketing that you're doing is hurting your image."
I see lots of people doing print advertising who are only thinking about the ad today. They don't think about the story that it's telling for the long-term.
It's important to be telling a story on social media, too. If you don't have a strategy in which you're telling a story, you're really wasting your money. Because people are going to see you, interact with you, and gain their own stories about what your business represents.
You need to clearly understand what your business represents before you can go market. If you skip this step you can easily destroy your brand identity.
The story that we are telling at Optimal Targeting is that we're a high-level boutique agency and we're able to provide for you high-level service.
When we want to do marketing and drum up business, we won't put an ad in the paper saying, "Our services are now 20% off." That would cheapen our services and attract the wrong type of people.
3. Create a marketing strategy.
Your overall marketing strategy, across all channels, should be telling the story of your brand.
Always ask, "How does my marketing support to the brand story?"
Here are two ideas with great examples of how we implemented this strategy in real companies:
Use a relevant tag-line.
PishPosh Baby, a company that sells baby gear, sets themselves apart from the big-box retailers by saying, "We're moms. We get it."
Come up with a creative PR campaign that demonstrates your company's unique strengths.
Brilliance.com told the story of their quality custom craftsmanship by showing how they can diamond encrust the hottest gadget on the market. They then were able to leverage that story to get media attention.
At Optimal Targeting when we want to do marketing we arrange events.
We partner with Google and have a representative come down and speak with us at an event. We host it in a nice restaurant and charge a lot of money, establishing that we're an authority.
We also give out free passes to people that we know. The goal isn't to make money from the event. It's just to show that there's value in what we're delivering. We want people to understand that if they're not paying full price, it's because they have a relationship with us. Not because it's a cheap event.
Using events like these to market our company is great, because even the people who don't attend, see us in a different light. They notice that we did an event with Google. They know that we charged $300 and had 75 people attend.
We focus our marketing strategies on the story that we're trying to tell.
I'll drive into Manhattan to speak at a small conference, even though it kills my whole day. I will do it because it portrays the story that I want to tell.
But the marketing we do is not for today, it's for the future. There are people who come to me today because they saw a seminar that I did three years ago. This kind of impact could never be achieved by a print ad that focuses on today.
4. Make a lasting impression.
Every single interaction that the customer has with your business should be delivering a consistent brand message.
For example, if you shop at an upper-class grocery store, somebody carries your bags to the car and helps you pack up your car. This tells their story of extraordinary customer service. In a cheaper store, nobody is helping you with your bags to the car. You’re lucky if they even bag it for you.
If your brand story doesn’t align with your business model, your marketing Will Become disjointed and seem fake.
Without thought, your employees could easily be telling a very different story than the one you really want your business to represent.
Your design can also misrepresent your business. If you're doing design that's below the level of what you're trying to portray, you're going to come across as cheaper and not with the times. You could say, "Look, this is what I could afford right now." It might be better not to market at all, if the image you're putting forward is one that's going to hurt your brand and not help it.
At Optimal Targeting we work hard to ensure that our marketing is true to our business model.
We know that based on our brand story, our clients will expect us to have a nice office. They will want to be able to come in and meet us personally. If they have a problem, they need to be able to pick up the phone at any time and have us there to answer.
As our conversation came to a close, I asked David to tell me about the one big mistake that business owners make when it comes to marketing. A mistake that easy to avoid, if they would have only known...
Here is what he shared:
Don't forget to track the results of your marketing efforts. Set up Google Analytics on your website and make sure to keep record of all your campaigns. This way when you're ready to bring in the experts, they will be able to build upon all your hard work.
Thank you, David, for sharing all these valuable insights. You make learning fun!
To inquire regarding Optimal Targeting's print and web marketing services, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-987-7700. You can reach David personally at extension 103.
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