My Uncle Fred was the first true marketing wizard I ever met. As the proprietor of Farris Food Market on the east side of Youngstown, he knew how to cast a spell. I was seven years old, but I noticed his craft and I had lots of questions.
“Why does it smell like peaches when I walk in the front door?” I asked one August.
“Because people like that smell,” my uncle advised. “It reminds them they wanted to bring peaches home.” I wondered how he knew they wanted to bring peaches home.
Everything Uncle Fred did, from his colorful hand-painted signs to his offer to cut and provide a free tasting of the watermelon you wanted before you bought it, was part of the magic.
He knew what I learned much later: Great marketing is about knowing what consumers need, desire and want — sometimes even before they know — and helping them understand you can provide the solution.
Steve Jobs and Apple are great examples. While others may have had the initial concept of hand-held devices to provide communication, information, and entertainment, Jobs knew Apple had to present the iPod, iPhone, and iPad as lifestyle choices in order to bring them mainstream.
As odd an individual as he was, he understood people and their motivations and desires — the desire to connect, move and grow.
Good marketers know to conduct initial research, but marketing wizards seek to really know and understand their customers with ongoing engagement.
Marketing wizards know that most customers aren’t looking for a nice shovel — they’re looking for a nice garden, a new pipeline to bring water to their home or a beautiful tree to shade their back yard.
Wizards of Marketing have learned that the buying experience is critical. If you want to repeat sales, the buying experience has to be as satisfying as the final product or service being sold. Obstacles and barriers that prevent, reduce or slow down purchases have to be identified and removed.
Wizards will tell you that your message must at first stand out so it can be noticed. What good is a great message that goes unseen, unheard or unread? And differentiation is essential. What good is a product or service that only mimics the competition?
Building a community of followers — fans if you will — can be tricky, but it can be done if they know you understand their problem, and perhaps share that problem, and that’s why you seek to provide a solution.
A legion of fans can build your company and keep it strong. The wizards know they must build this fan base without giving away their position as the authority or solution. They understand that some ego-driven fans can go from providing input to demanding changes.
Wizards understand that while all elements of marketing must be tended, the message is more important than most components. This is often obscured because of the multiple delivery channels that continue to crop up. From mass media to social media, new channels are created and expanded almost daily.
Wizards know that once you find a good channel, you must deliver and repeat your message. Repeat, repeat, and repeat again. No matter who the audience is, repetition improves response.
More than any other component, the brand messaging is considered the mantel upon which every other aspect of the marketing relies. Can we change the tag line? What about the main offering?
Wizards know that messaging should evolve as the brand and the market evolves.
Seth Godin, one of my favorite marketing wizards, uses Facebook as an example of how the message can change. The reasons for signing up went from “this looks kind of interesting” to “this might be helpful” and now “I’m the last person on earth not using this.”
Consider these timeless truths. They are not spells. But when you understand how to use them, you should be able to create some magic for your brand.