If I asked you what’s the most important part of your marketing, what would you answer? Would you choose search? Social? Email? Remarketing? Display? What if I told you the answer is none of the above? Search, social, email and the rest are excellent marketing tools. They help you keep in touch with your customer and help your customer remember you when they’re ready to buy. But, they’re nothing more than tools. So what’s the “must have” in marketing?
What you really need to focus on first in your marketing is your story. And everything that follows–search, social, and so on–needs to revolve around either a.) telling that story, or b.) making it easy for your customers to tell it for you.
Crafting a story isn’t easy. But it’s critical to the success of your marketing and e-commerce efforts. A big part of the story is your unique value proposition (also often called a unique selling proposition). In either case, it’s what makes you different/better than everyone else out there.
The world’s greatest brands understand this. Look at Nike. What’s their story? Performance in sports. Period. Look at Apple. Their story? “We make insanely great products.” Google? “Organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Even Walmart has a story: “Everyday low prices on the things you need.”
And this isn’t just for large, multi-national brands. Great local brands and startups get it, too. McSorley’s Old Ale House in New York City has been around since before you were born. And that’s their story: a traditional New York pub that remembers the way New York used to be. Trunk Club, which targets fashion-conscious men without the time or desire to shop, tells a great story: we take all the effort out of buying new clothes. Portland’s Powell’s Books, a succesful independent bookstore, wins in an era when Border’s failed because of its focus on its story: We’re not just booksellers, we’re book lovers.
So, what does any of this have to do with online marketing?
Ask any search marketer and they’ll tell you: brand terms convert best. But why? Because the customer has figured out that the brand satisfies their desires. Email marketers will tell you how effective email is at bringing in business. Of course, only people who care about that brand–or, more accurately, its value proposition–subscribe to their emails. E-commerce experts will tell you again and again, customers usually don’t need a reason to buy; they need a reason to buy from you.
Customers want to understand your story, what makes you different, why they should care about your offer. Otherwise, you’re just another small voice trying to be heard among the roar of modern marketing.
Of course, don’t just make up any old story you feel like telling. Customers can spot authenticity–or the lack of it–miles away. Instead, focus on what got you into business. Why do you do what you do? You’re clearly trying to fill a need or solve a problem for your customers. Think about why that matters to you and to your customer. Build on that.
Then when you go to build a great social profile for your business or start a new search campaign or send another email, you’re not just adding to the noise. You’re reinforcing your story and providing clarity for your customers about why you matter.
And, ultimately, getting your customers to understand why you matter to them is the most important part of marketing, isn’t it?