Do you want to get more leads or sell more, while doing less? Online marketing can help you do just that, but it doesn’t always work. Before you invest time and money in updating your website or automating your marketing, you need to have a strong online marketing plan. You can build a social media presence while you automate your marketing.

Before you do any of this, you have to develop the right messaging around the unique value your business provides. In today’s competitive world, you have to understand:

  1. What you really sell (Hint: it’s deeper than features or benefits.)
  2. Why your customers buy.
  3. How to match what you really sell with why they buy.

What do you really sell?

Marketing often looks at features and benefits. Features tell us about the product or service, while benefits are the results of the product. People buy benefits more than they buy features. For example, a parent will be more interested in an mp3 player that protects their child’s ears, while the teen will be far more interested in the image that the mp3 player projects. If you want to build a successful marketing automation program, you need to go deeper than that.

As an expert in human behavior and communication, I understand why people purchase your products or services. Understanding what you really sell is the first step to connecting with your customers and selling more with less.

Benefits are logical and we like to think that we’re logical creatures, yet research shows that most of our purchases are driven by emotions. The other night, I was at an event that promoted a local soccer team. The promoters talked about the power of soccer in the international arena. They talked about the feeling of connection in an international world. They were not selling me tickets to a soccer game, they were selling me membership in an international tribe. It worked. They sold me a sense of belonging. I woke up this morning and followed the club on Google+ and started watching the news about the World Cup more closely.

If you want to trigger these types of emotional responses in your customers, you need to understand what you really sell. It might be safety, success, a sense of belonging or mastery over their world. Understanding what you really sell will help you communicate with your customers on a deeper level.

Why do your customers buy from you?

Before you start to automate your marketing, you need to understand your ideal customer. If you don’t, your messaging won’t connect. I often start with the customers I want to fire and then compare them to my best customers. Consider your customers in a few areas:

What are the demographic differences? Look for trends in demographics between the two groups. If there are any that stand out, explore this further. Does this tell you something about how to reach your ideal customers OR how to avoid your worst customers?

Why do they purchase your products/services? Compare your worst customers to your best customers. Why did your worst customers purchase your goods or services? Does it have more to do with a need (or perceived need) than a true passion or desire? What motivated your best customers to purchase your goods or services? What about you/your product/your services draws out the best in them?

Do they need or want your products/services? While there are few true needs in the world today, it makes sense that we purchase needs over wants. But we don’t. We go for wants every time. Lots of people need to lose weight and should eat healthier. Burgers win most of the time. Most people dieting are not happy about it.

Why are they really buying? Think of the brain as having three basic parts. There is the older brain, which is focused on survival and procreation. This part of the brain pays attention to the sexy ads on TV and messaging about the world ending. There is the emotional brain, which is focused on how we’re feeling. Then there is the thinking part of your brain, which processes decisions.

We like to think we’re logical and that we reason through purchases, but the other parts of your brain often (if not always) know first. Your messaging needs to focus on each part of the brain and tie it all together.

How is your business unique?

Sales and marketing professionals often talk about a USP or a Unique Selling Proposition. The idea is that you need to differentiate yourself, your services and your company from the market in an advantageous way. Understanding how your company stands out is important and even helpful. Benefits alone are not enough to stand out in today’s competitive market. It’s certainly not enough to develop the systemic organization of messaging required for automated marketing.

Features and benefits are easy to copy. You aren’t. Look at larger companies. Apple, Amazon and Samsung offer similar phones with similar features and similar benefits. When one gets ahead the other companies catch up relatively quickly. Amazon’s phone will offer a better integration with Amazon’s services. Samsung offers an excellent integration to Gmail and other Google products. While Apple has a high performing phone and offers membership into the Apple experience. Each of these companies is positioning their products to be the best fit for their ideal customers.

You (or your staff) offer a unique benefit to your customers. The question is: what is that unique benefit? Remember: benefits are easy to replicate. Who you are and how you do business is much harder to copy. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult to pin down. Consider how you are the perfect solution to your ideal customer’s problems. What is it about your background and personality that makes you ideal? If you get stuck, ask some friends and customers for some honest and direct feedback in this area. If you are stuck, you can always contact me. I’d be happy to help you sort it out.

Successful Approach to Online Marketing

Match what you really sell and your unique personality with what your prospects really want to buy, you have a foundation to begin developing the communication you will use in automating your marketing.  Develop marketing materials that tie your strengths with what they really want. If you can connect these dots, you have a great foundation to get started with marketing automation.