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Marketing That Matters


Written by Guest Blogger Katie Woods

You’ve all seen the commercial: A busy suburban mom with a young child in the back seat suddenly experiences car trouble that leaves her stranded in an unfamiliar place. With her car insurance agent on speed dial, she and her child are soon rescued and returned safely home by a polite, smiling agent. While it is obvious they are selling car insurance, more importantly, they are also providing security and peace of mind.

Many websites and marketing pieces I run across are not doing their job. Marketing your company, product or service is not so much about explaining each thing your company does, but rather it is more about marketing the end result: the experience, the benefit, the enhanced lifestyle that will come to a client after their business with you.

Often, companies use “marketing” pieces to explain who, what, when, where and how much, but not why. Yes, who you are, what you do, the quality materials you use and how much it costs are important items to include in a marketing piece. But they are not the most important thing to include. Why should I use this product? Why should I choose your company? Marketing is about explaining the benefit your product offers, not the product itself.

How many restaurant commercials have you seen that simply list the quality ingredients and prices of their menu? None? The camera scans over steaming plates of delicious-looking food or captures the fresh ingredients falling into a sizzling skillet. Then we watch young, attractive people laugh and eat at a table with ambient lighting. These restaurants are selling a lifestyle, a mood; not dinner. And it works!

This is perceptual marketing, and it is what Apple does so well. In 2001, Apple wasn’t the only company making MP3 players. But they were the first to really market the benefit derived from an MP3 player. When Steve Jobs coined the catchphrase, “1000 songs in your pocket”, it catapulted the iPod to fame and moved Apple into the world market for consumer electronics.

Perceptual marketing is about focusing on the experience your product offers. It is the reason we buy popcorn at a movie theater despite the $10 price tag. It is not about just selling a product, but providing a benefit, an enhanced lifestyle – and it is something you should do for your company, too. Not sure where to start? Testimonials can help you gauge your customers’ perceptions. Ask them specific questions like:

  • “What does [company name] do best?”
  • “What need did [company name] fulfill?”
  • “What should [company name] emphasize about our product/service to other clients?”
  • “What benefits does [company name]’s product/service offer you?”

The answers to these questions will give you a good picture of your clients’ perception of your brand, products and customer service, and you may receive answers that surprise you. This research will in turn help you better identify your refined target market and what is important to them. Once you know the need that your company fulfills, market that experience, that benefit, that enhanced lifestyle and watch your clientele grow.

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