How to create your marketing strategy’s foundation without jeopardizing its effectiveness

The strength of a building lies in its foundation. The main purpose of the foundation is to hold the structure together and keep it upright.

The most important function of a foundation is to support the load of the entire building.

You’re probably thinking what does all this have to do with marketing strategy?

Well, your business also needs a foundation on which you can build your overall strategy and marketing campaigns.

I like to call them the 4 foundational pillars.

What are the foundational pillars for a successful marketing strategy?

  1. Product/market fit
  2. The profile of your perfect customer
  3. Messaging and positioning
  4. Differentiators

Let’s go through them together.

Product/market fit

What is product/market fit?

Lots of well-known entrepreneurs have a thing or two to say about product/market fit. After all, it’s not a concept I’ve pulled out of thin air.

Marc Andreessen, a well-known American entrepreneur and investor defines the concept of product/market fit as follows: "product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market. But too often the focus is on the latter part of the sentence (a product that can satisfy the market) and not the former (in a good market). Market matters most. You can obviously screw up a great market — and that has been done, and not infrequently — but assuming the team is baseline competent and the product is fundamentally acceptable, a great market will tend to equal success and a poor market will tend to equal failure."

Eric Ries, American entrepreneur, blogger, and author of The Lean Startup, defines it as, “the moment when a startup finally finds a widespread set of customers that resonate with its product.”

Andy Rachleff, co-founder and executive chairman of Wealthfront says, “If you address a market that really wants your product—if the dogs are eating the dog food—then you can screw up almost everything in the company and you will succeed. Conversely, if you’re really good at execution but the dogs don’t want to eat the dog food, you have no chance of winning.”

Ultimately, product/market fit translates into making something that people want in their life and want to use.

So how do you go about it?

It’s a process of experimentation rather than a single moment of epiphany.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is there a market for my product/service?
  • Is there a need for my product/service in that market?
  • Is there a problem to be solved?
  • Is there a way things are currently done in my market that isn't working the way it should whose process I can improve with my product/service?
  • Is there competition? How do I differentiate myself from my competitors?

How do you test it?

  • Get feedback from people in your market about your product/service. You can do this by sending out surveys to relevant groups and communities in your industry.
  • Run a survey on your customer base and ask them how they feel about your product or service. Here’s an example of such a survey.
  • Always do your research. Analyze different forums, groups, and communities in your market and pay attention to the conversations happening there. Do they specify questions or pain points that you could solve with your product/service?
  • Is it a market where people are searching using different keywords that describe your product/service? Use a keyword research tool and find out the average monthly number of searches for those keywords. This will tell you there’s already a demand for your type of product or service.

Experiment, test, get feedback, and iterate based on what you discover! That’s the process.

The profile of your perfect customer

Defining your target audience and your perfect customer profile is something that you also need to clarify before starting any marketing campaigns.

You want to get your product or service in front of the right people.

Ask yourself these questions to help you define the profile of your perfect customer:

  • Who are they? (age, education, income, personality, family, looks, friends, religion, politics)
  • What do they do? (career, hobbies, TV shows, movies, trips, travel)
  • Where do they spend their time? (platforms, channels)
  • What do they read? What do they share on social media? What type of content do they interact with? Do they write reviews? What kind of reviews?
  • What keeps them up at night? What matters to them? What are their fears and insecurities?
  • What are their motivations? Why do they do the things that they do?

The first 4 categories sum up what is called a buyer persona or a marketing avatar. But you need to go deeper than that and follow up with the last 2 categories, which cover the emotional side of your perfect customer profile.

That’s where you’ll find most of their pain points, as well as their true motivations. This is golden—the real meat.

Why do you need a perfect customer profile?

You can market and sell your product or service more effectively when you know their needs backwards and forwards, when you know their language, and know how they communicate. This is when you earn a passionate audience of true fans.

Follow this process to uncover their pain points and real motivations

There are a lot of models out there that you can apply, but I find the “painkiller vs. vitamin” to be the most effective and lucrative.

When you take vitamins you don’t always see results; you don’t know if it is really working. Vitamins are optional compared to painkillers. People will do anything to avoid or stop their pain.

Therefore, you need to start by uncovering the pain points of your ideal customer profile—what is your customer afraid of?

Most of the time, their fears fall into these categories:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of losing time and/or money
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of being irrelevant

What motivations create these pain points?

After we look at their pain, we need to go one level deeper; take a step back and uncover the emotional motivations that created that pain.

Fear of failure could be translated into “I’ve tried so many strategies and nothing worked. I’m afraid to try something new, because I don’t think it will work. I’m probably not good at this.”

Fear of losing time and/or money could really mean “I’ve wasted so much time and money on things that didn’t work, money that I could’ve been spent on going somewhere nice for vacation. I’m not good at making financial decisions.”

See how powerful this is?

By knowing their real motivation, you put yourself in a position of advantage as you start thinking about how you can counter-balance those fears by adding your solutions to the mix, and how your product or service can solve those fears for them.

Messaging and positioning

It’s very important to define how you will position yourself when it comes to your messaging and the way you communicate to your clients.

Here are some pointers that will help you craft copy that converts for your website:

  1. Always start with the problem and then add your solution. Because the human brain’s main function is to keep us alive, it is always concentrating on finding solutions to the problems we encounter. The human brain must burn calories in order to process information. The problem appears when you ask your potential customers to process information that has nothing to do with their “survival” (aka their problems) and your solution to their problems. More so, as I mentioned above, your ideal customer’s main motivator has to do with problems/pain, as well. The only reason they came to your website is because you can help them solve a problem, and until you get to the problem, nobody cares who you are and what you’ve done, so don’t talk about yourself, instead put your potential customer in the spotlight.
  2. Condense your company’s offering into a sequence of: Problem -> Product/Solution -> Result. Let them in on what the resolution of their problem looks like, and also what their life will look like if they decide not to take action and solve their problem.
  3. Communicate simply and clearly. Do so in a simple language that everybody can understand.
  4. Are you using the same keywords and phrases that they’re using when they’re searching for your product or service, or when they’re describing their problems and pain points? Make a list with the key phrases that come up repeatedly so that you can use them in your copy.

Differentiators

Very few businesses come to the market with a unique product or service. In most industries, there are several companies that are offering similar, or even identical, solutions.

So how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Instead of asking yourself “What’s unique / different about my business?” try asking yourself “What do I want to do in my business that is different from everyone else in the market?”—What do I want to achieve for my clients?

Choose one factor you want to be the best at in your business, and then position your business around that factor of differentiation.

Don’t choose pricing as your sole differentiator, as there will always be someone in your industry that can offer lower prices.

Here are some examples of brands that have very good differentiators:

Holzkern – “Holzkern watches are meant to be more than just timekeepers. Regardless of where or when you are in life, as a product of nature, our watches are meant to not only help you make the most out of your time, but also to serve as a daily reminder to celebrate the natural world and to reflect on your individuality.” They only work with raw, natural materials.

Wistia – They say that “they’re video software for the video-loving business” and that they’re a “video platform built for marketers, by marketers.”

SoulCycle – They say that their mission is to bring soul to the people and transform a standard fitness routine that feels like work into a cardio party.

By choosing one quality that you want your business to concentrate on:

  • Your offer will be much simpler and easy to understand
  • Your brand will be easier to remember, as it stands out from the crowd
  • That differentiator will become your company’s DNA, and everything will revolve around it

But why do I need to do all this work and not just start with a couple of Facebook ads?

When you do all this groundwork, what you’ll notice is that everything becomes clearer in your head in terms of what you offer, what the best audience is for your product, how to best communicate with your audience to drive more sales and conversions, and how you stand out in the market from all of the competitors that are competing for the same audience’s attention.

Now imagine starting with Facebook ads without knowing all this information.

You wouldn’t know who to target, what to say to make your offer interesting to them, and why they would choose you.

You would spend money on ads bringing different types of traffic to your website, none of which would meet your ideal customer profile, and your website would fail to convert those leads, as your message wouldn’t speak to anyone specifically.

Your life could be muuuuch easier if you decided to invest a bit of time and follow this process.

Phew! We’ve covered a lot in this post.

Remember, just like the strength of a building lies in its foundation, these pillars are the backbone of your business, providing you with a well-defined structure for building your future marketing campaigns.

  1. Product/market fit
  2. The profile of your Perfect Customer
  3. Messaging and Positioning
  4. Differentiators

Don’t neglect the foundation just to go faster. You’ll end up finding you spend more time testing your marketing campaign, realizing it doesn’t work, and then needing to go back to the pillars for a fresh start.

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