This is the first in a three-part series.
Part 1: The Message (Today)
Part 2: The Media: The Complete (Thumbnail) Guide to Choosing the Right Media
Part 3: The Tactics: Promoting Your Business: Use the Right Tactics
Before tactics, comes the message. More important than where you promote your business, is what you say about your business. More specifically, how you approach potential customers with your message.
Business owners are on a continuous quest to find the right place to promote. An endless parade of media sales reps are more than happy to tell you that (insert media choice here) gets the best results. Amazing, isn’t it? radio, TV, yellow pages, newspaper, billboards, cable, etc. all get great results. Except for you. That’s because you’re looking in the wrong place. You’re looking at the medium when you should be looking at the message.
Getting the Message Right
A common scenario is for a media rep to sell you some advertising and then say, “So what do you want to say?” (This should have been the first question) The answer is your brand promise. You should not advertise or promote your business unless you’re doing so to communicate your brand promise. It takes discipline to stick to this rule. Most advertising consists of messages about product, price, service or events. But no promise. That’s why most advertising money is wasted.
[Brand Promise: What you promise to deliver above and beyond the product or service you happen to sell.]
You want to do two things with your message: create a brand identity and be remembered. Wait! Isn’t promotion about building traffic? Getting butts in the door? Yes, but only over the long-run, not today. Advertising is not cocaine. You don’t do it to get an immediate high. For proof, see your local automobile dealers.
Promoting your business is about building a long-term relationship with potential customers. Advertising is courtship. Let’s look at some examples of typical messages and what a business should say instead:
Interior Decorating Center
Brand Promise – To find each homeowner’s individual decorating personality and decorate a room specifically for that personality.
Typical Promotional Message – In business for 26 years, our decorators have combined experience of 135 years, come in to our store now for $100 off.
The Right Message – You have a unique decorating personality. We discover your individual decorating personality, design a room that fits perfectly to that personality. You get to show off a room that is uniquely designed for you.
Brand Promise – Accessibility to advice.
Typical Promotional Message – Look at all our items on sale! We’ve been in business for 25 years. The best people and the best service.
The Right Message – We help you be the handy man. Everyone who walks through our door gets help from one of our hardware advisors on the floor. You won’t have to look for them, because they look for you.
Brand Promise – You will be excited about your truck.
Typical Promotional Message – Window tinting special! Spray in bed-liners, grill guards all at lower prices than the other guys.
The Right Message – Your truck will look like no other truck in town. You will be so excited when you leave that you will have to show off your truck. Then all hell will break loose when your friends see you driving up.
Communicating the right message to promote your business is tough. It takes long-term vision. The trick is to court your customers into a relationship, not knock them over the head and drag them in to your store. Over time, you build an identity that has value.
Yes, this is the way you should have been advertising and promoting your business for the past five years. If so, you would be in a different place today. But you can start now, and things will look very different in a year. The only question is; Do you have the patience and discipline to stick to your brand promise message?