They say that the most effective marketing message is your story. Marketing experts will suggest that the most effective story is the one that taps what you are passionate about.
While this might sound simple, it is one of the most challenging tasks in marketing. It might also be the most elusive and misunderstood aspect of marketing. That’s understandable when you are trying to write copy for a radio spot, newspaper ad or direct mail piece. That message usually boils down to what you are selling. When things are reduced to what you are selling, you find yourself in the commodities business where everything is reduced to how much you can sell things for.
While that is a practical reality, it is rarely a battle you can win when you are facing the likes of Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Lowes, which is why marketing gurus will always push you to tell your story and do what you are passionate about. Great advice, but rarely are they able to tell you how. There are plenty of business books, seminars and workshops on how to follow your passion. They document success stories of other businesses that, while inspiring, rarely provide a blueprint for your business.
I think the more practical question is for you to determine what you are selling. I don’t mean the shovels, dirt and plants, but rather what makes you unique from all others.
Get To The Middle Of The Golden Circle
Recently I was sent an email with a link to a TED Talk (TED.com). It was titled, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” The speaker was Simon Sinek. It has been downloaded 25,136,273 times. That includes the six times I have watched or listened to this talk. I found it compelling for a variety of reasons that I wanted to share with you.
When I first listened to the 18-minute talk, there were several insights that really resonated with me. I had to watch it a few more times so I could fully take in what was said. While the solutions presented were not rocket science, they were based on facts and real-life case studies.
That is how I came to learn about Sinek’s “Golden Circle” of what a business (or a person) does, how they do it, and why they do it. It’s very simple concept with an incredibly powerful message. I couldn’t help think back to the last 20 years spent building and rebuilding Sunrise Marketing. I feel as though it has been several different lifetimes. Won some, lost some, but still standing. Of course, “still standing” might pay the rent, but is it really the “What” we all work for?
As I was watching the video I started to connect the dots to the success or failure of the business. When it was managed for the “What,” the success was erratic. When it was managed for the “Why,” it always worked out. The “Why” was always connected to personal relationships. Working in the “Why” has always been about thinking up ways that will help our clients succeed, in many respects because it was so personal.
The “Why” Starts With Personal Relationships
I still believe that at the end of the day, if all things are equal, people buy from people; and they buy from people they like. They buy from people who share the same interests, are positioned as experts and who exhibit a genuine desire to serve. They seek advice and then act on it (usually in the form of a purchase). They like being recognized (who doesn’t) and value being appreciated. They only grow more loyal when their support of the business is rewarded.
The rewards can be incentives, special deals, offers or events, but they can also be a careful and thoughtful response to a question. I have found that most customers come to an independent garden center for information and inspiration. They buy what they see, but often don’t have all the information to communicate what they’ve seen. You see many times customers simply don’t know they name of the plant, or don’t remember to bring along a sample of a diseased plant.
I can tell you with certainty what people will buy at a garden center. They will overwhelmingly buy what is in flower. They will pick out the best-looking, best-merchandised product, and many times they will be directed to that product by an enthusiastic and knowledgable member of your staff.
From those few absolutes you can answer the most important questions in advertising: the who, the what and the when. Market to your existing customers (who), plants that are in bloom (what) and when they are blooming (when).
Of course the most important element in the equation is not the who, what or when, it is the why. Why should I buy from you and not the other guy? I have explained that people buy from people they like, but why?
People form connections when they believe as you believe. They share your passion for what you do, how you do it and what you stand for.
It is really simple when you think of it in those terms. The magic formula is to sell what is blooming, when it is blooming to your existing customers. When those customers are happy they will gladly recruit more customers for you. This is not to say you aren’t active in marketing new customers, just remember to concentrate not only on the who, the what and the when, but most importantly, the why.
I guess we all face the question every day when we put on our shoes and head out the door to face another day. What am I working for? After 20 years I think I might have figured it out.
I work for the “Why.”