In my book, Marketing in 4 Hours a Week, I discuss refining your marketing message in terms of The Three Cs. Your message must be:
The person reading your marketing material has to understand what you’re offering. Yes, Calvin Klein has the marketing budget to run endless ads filled with beautiful, half-naked, pouty young people that leave you wondering what they are selling.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t have Calvin Klein’s marketing budget; we need to be much more direct. Clearly state what your offer is. Clearly state what the benefits are. Clearly state the next action people should take to get that offer. People don’t make intuitive leaps when it comes to advertising. If they are searching specifically for information on your type of product or service, they want the details. Spell it out for them and then make it as easy as possible for them to continue on with you.
Your marketing must be cohesive. On a physical level, you should use your brand colors and typography to help create a cohesive look across your marketing materials, including your website, social media pages, business card, and stationery. That’s the easy part.
Your message itself must be cohesive. This also involves your brand, which is the overall experience people have with your business. Your brand affects the tone of your message. Are you casual? All business? Warm and friendly? Elegant? It doesn’t matter what your tone is (even being a jerk can be a successful brand experience, believe it or not), but you need to keep the tone consistent throughout your marketing. Changing tone confuses the buyer. If you’ve ever gone back to a restaurant or hair salon that you had a great experience with and then had a poor experience, it’s going to leave you not only disappointed, but confused. What happened? Is there new management? Are they having financial trouble? Did the chef quit? People will go to an average restaurant repeatedly, rather than return to a supposedly “better” restaurant that gave a bipolar experience.
Your marketing across the boards should be seamless. A cohesive message helps shorten the length of time it takes your ideal prospect to start actually “seeing” your marketing. It short cuts the “know, like, and trust” factor. In fact, according to Forbes presenting your brand across all platforms consistently (in this case meaning cohesively) can increase revenues up to 23%.
The Number One Key to Successful Marketing: Consistency
Just as you need to be consistent in the way you treat your prospects, clients, and employees, you need to be consistent in the frequency of your messaging. If you have a monthly newsletter, it should be sent on the same day each month. If you send a tip of the week, it should be sent on the same day each week. A direct mail campaign needs to go out at the same time every week or month. If you do a weekly Facebook Live, or have a YouTube channel, or any marketing that you do on a regular basis, standardize how often and when you do it.
There’s an old advertising adage that says average marketing done consistently will outperform brilliant marketing done inconsistently.
Consistency builds trust. It proves that you are dependable and that you follow through on what you say you will do. It won’t be something that your audience is aware of at first. But over the course of weeks or months, instead of being an intrusion by a stranger, your marketing will ring a bell. It looks and sounds familiar and humans like the familiar.
A second thought will often occur to your audience: “I’ve been seeing them for a while. They must be doing pretty well.” Staying power gives a business credibility: “They must be doing something right.” In an economic atmosphere where small businesses come and go, a business that is still standing—even if that perception is the result of seeing a marketing message eight times in a six week period—will create interest and trust.
And that’s what you want your marketing to do:
- Appeal to your ideal client
- Speak to them in the words that they want to hear
- Create interest, trust, and action.
Following The Three Cs of messaging isn’t hard—it takes thought and some preplanning. Taking time to think out how to state your message clearly will ensure that your target audience will immediately know what your offer is and whether or not it is right for them. Using cohesive branding elements across your marketing increases the speed of your name recognition. And marketing on a consistent basis subliminally builds up trust.
When you use The Three Cs of messaging, you avoid The Fourth C: Confusion. Confusion on the part of your buyer is deadly—a confused person doesn’t buy.
Adhering to The Three Cs will keep your marketing on track and ultimately bring you more business. If your marketing is not bringing you the results you want, check what you’re doing against these guidelines and see if you can improve in one or more areas. And let me know how you do.
Need help marketing your small business? The Small Business Marketing Mastery Series will guide you through. Available now.