Over the years, you may have noticed the changes in the way you play your favorite sport. You may have started with just playing hoops in your garage with your friends, but now you are already leading your team mates in beating all other teams in competitive basketball. Even basketball rules have changed in the last 20 years. But regardless of the circumstances and the rules, the basic principles are still the same—dribbling, passing the ball, setting screens, and taking high-percentage shots.
It’s the same with marketing. The technology may have advanced with the Internet and smartphone apps, but the fundamental principles of marketing remain the same. Keep them in mind, and you’ll be able to navigate the new terrain of marketing and advertising much more effectively.
- Give your customer what they want. Some businesses come up with a brilliant idea and then they try to figure out how to make the buyers like it. That didn’t quite work for the Segway, did it? The more potentially viable option is to identify the wants of your customers, and then put features in your products that satisfy those desires.
- Appeal to their emotions. Very few people actually make a scientific and objective examination of their options before choosing a particular product over its competitors. The real truth is that people are essentially emotional buyers. They base their decision on their feelings and vibes.
This explains why Apple iPhones are so popular, even if their features are arguably inferior to its competitors and they are more expensive too. It’s why fashion brands become successful. It also explains the appeal of Coca Cola and Nike.
- Take care of your core customers. Speaking of Coca Cola, do you remember that new Coke fiasco many years ago? The backlash was terrible—people could not accept that the old Coke taste was being changed. That situation exemplifies a simple truth—you take care of your core customers. You can add to your customer base, but you don’t replace them. If you are going to place them on hold, value their time with some informative on hold messages and don’t keep them on hold for too long.
Doing this is more cost-effective too. You don’t have to spend as much to retain customers and get them to become regular or repeat customers, than to get brand new customers. Buyers tend to like the comfort and the familiarity of the tried and true products and services they’ve already enjoyed, unless the purchase was a total disaster.
- Engage, don’t advertise. People are exposed to so much advertising these days that they tend to tune them all out. It’s like businesses are preaching to them instead of engaging them in an honest conversation. Being obvious in your advertising makes it seem like you’re trying to trick them in the same way a used car salesman would.
Instead, try to be simpler in your approach, and try to not make it look like advertising—even if it is.
- Have a game plan. Marketing and advertising, like a championship basketball game, needs a game plan. You need to know what your options and resources are, and you need to anticipate what your competitors are doing. Have a plan, so everyone in your business knows what to do instead of just winging it.
In marketing, everything changes all the time because of technology. But in the end, everything remains the same. The goal to attract, build and retain customers hasn’t changed and never will.