My marketing process
When I do any kind of marketing project, I always start at the product. This is traditionally the part of the process where I lose clients because it involves putting on a very critical eye and looking for flaws. If I am working for a restaurant, I like to go in with a few friends, order a meal and take a look around. I will evaluate the quality of the food, the service, and whether the decor matches the food and the price. Or, if I am working with a software/web/mobile application, I will sign up for the app and start working with it. At first, I will just try to complete some simple tasks with it, but later, I will do my absolute best to break the app.
I start off at the product because I know that the experience of using a product is the most important marketing tool in a company's arsenal. Good products lead to good word of mouth. Word of mouth is amazing for two reasons:
- It is free. Technically, it isn't free, but a good experience is incidental to running a good business.
- It is way more effective than any kind of ad that anyone could ever write.
After I have critically evaluated a product, I take a look at how that product is communicated with the outside world. I like to start off with a website and move outwards into things like signage, current advertisements, and public relations. I will also spend many hours with Google to find out what other people are saying about the particular product or service. This step is important because:
- Communications need to match the product. If you claim that your calendar app is easy to use, it sure better be. If you claim to serve the best burgers west of the third meridian, you had better make a damned good burger. Consumers are used to ads and have developed a very strong bullshit detector.
- Communications need to be clear about what the product is and what problems it can solve.
- It gives me a sense of who a particular product or service is targeted to.
After I have evaluated the current marketing condition, I like to do more research. I like to validate whether there is actually demand for a product or service. Then, I like to check out all of the competition to see what they are doing and how they communicate it. And then finally, I like to try to find a niche where a particular product or service can fit.
Once I have completed that research, I like to write a report. Writing reports is mainly for me, but many of my clients find them very useful. For me, writing about something is the best way to learn about something. It primes my brain and, most of the time, if I write 2,500 words one day, by the next morning, I will have two or three brand new ideas.
My reports tend to be fairly broad and full of wild ideas. This is by design. Traditionally, when I sit down with a decision maker and talk about the report, a large part of the conversation is about why certain ideas won't work. The joy of this is that talking about why something won't work is an excellent brainstorming tool that usually leads to coming up with the two or three brilliant ideas that make the difference between a good campaign and an extremely successful campaign.
At this point, I go back to my laptop and write a very concrete marketing plan. This marketing plan contains three things:
- A concise summary of the product, its strengths and weaknesses.
- A concise marketing strategy.
- Specific tactics, time frames and budgets.
And then, it's time to implement!