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If you’re like most entrepreneurs or new marketers, you’ve probably spent a lot of time Googling questions like:

“How do I pick a marketing strategy?”

“Where should I start with my marketing plan?”

“Which marketing tactics work the best?”

“Which social media platforms should I be on?”

“How do I rank #1 on Google?”

If that’s been you, you probably now realize that there are no one-size-fits-all answers to any of those questions. And, though you’ve come to that conclusion, you might still be looking at what everyone else is doing with their marketing and trying to replicate it to find your own marketing stride. However, because marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all game, what works for someone else probably won’t work for you too. You’ve got to make your own groove. Here’s how.

The thing is, you need to really¬†understand¬†your audience. You need to know their pain points. You need to know what emotions they need stirred up or soothed. You need to know how to give them VALUE. How can you address their problems? How can you give them inspiration? How can you show them that they can be what they want to be? At the end of the day, marketing is not about what you’re “supposed to do to be seen”, but about what you’re contributing that’s of value to your audience.

Value is what makes your marketing work. Value is what will eventually bring you to the top of a search engine… Google is a smart company – they make sure their users are really getting their queries answered, not just fed a bunch of keywords. Value is what makes you stand out from competitors.

How do you know what kind of value to provide?

You need to find out what your potential customers actually want. Ideally, the best way to do this is to actually ask them. Send out a survey to your existing customers. If you can, ask them one-on-one about their buyer journey. Find out what they were looking for when they found your product and why they decided to pick you. Ask them how your product or service has actually been helping them. This kind of information is priceless. Just because you think you know why someone would want your product doesn’t mean your right. There might be so many more reasons that you haven’t thought of and so many more problems that your product is actually solving for people that you weren’t even aware of! The more problems you solve, the more value you provide. If your company is new and you don’t have customers to ask these questions to, try showing your website or product to friends and see what kinds of questions they ask you about it. Ask if they would use your product and how they think it might help them. Their answers might surprise you! Listening is key.

How do you translate this information into marketing?

Once you have a clear idea of the pain points your product or service is able to solve for customers, you can form better messaging. A great marketing message should get a prospect’s attention about a problem they are experiencing, while informing them that there is a solution for it. Great marketing guides the prospect to resources where they can learn more about this solution. The resources are relevant to them, not just sales pitches. Eventually, these informative resources guide them to a way to purchase the solution.

Instead of using this process of informative guidance, a lot of companies just jump straight into showing off their product. They often forget to show the prospect how or why the product fits into their lives. Let’s think about something we’ve all probably seen… clothing ads. There’s a difference between clothing ads that just get scrolled past in an Instagram feed and clothing ads that get stared at for a long time and clicked on. The ones that garner attention evoke some form of emotion from the viewer. This is why you don’t see a picture of clothing on a hanger in an ad. Most people would scroll right past that. No, you usually see a person modeling the clothing because it gives the viewer a more accurate idea of what the clothes might look like on their body. Even this can be done well or just be boring to the viewer. I remember looking through fashion magazines growing up. I actually just loved staring at the ads in these magazines. You see, high fashion brands often use editorial style ads that show the model in interesting, often surreal, settings. This evokes a lot of emotion from the viewer. It shows them what life could be like. It might be fantasy, it might be luxury, it might be abstract… These ads are an exaggeration and generally unrealistic, like art. And that’s because it is art. Couture fashion is an art form and its buyers wear it both as artistic expression and as a status symbol, therefore the ads must evoke emotion the way fine art does. The value that these fashion companies provide is often a level of artistic inspiration tied into everyday life.

Tim Walker for Mulberry

Tim Walker for Mulberry

Tim Walker for Mulberry

So, how can you catch your potential customers’ attention and deliver value to them? Attract them by showing how you can solving their pain points and/or give them inspiration for a better life. Then continually deliver on that promise. Provide content that answers their top questions appropriate to where they are in their buying cycle. Make things easy for them. Inspire them. Make your messages clear. Don’t just spam your product in front of them – make it relatable for them. Put yourself in their shoes!

At the end of the day, great marketing has nothing to do with whatever’s popular at the moment and everything to do with how you make a valuable experience for the prospect. Make it informative. Make it inspirational. Make it original. Maybe even make it fun. Just make sure you’re making it for your audience and not just to throw your product in their face. Featured image at top by @joshrh19 (Instagram)