According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Where, in this official definition of marketing, do you see the words “because I said so”?
You don’t, of course, because marketing is all about delivering value.
Explaining what value means can be tricky. You probably have a good idea of what you think your value is to your customers. Your customers probably have a completely different idea. Do you know what your customers value about your company?
I had a conversation recently with a client who was having difficulty grasping the idea of value as it related to their company’s marketing message. They believed in the misguided, conventional idea that the customer should buy what they sold because the client does a lot for the O&P industry and the customer should be grateful — basically, “because I said so.” Keep in mind that they have a plethora of reasons why their company, products and services offer value to the O&P industry. They have great customer service. They provide 24/7 access to that great customer service. They have fair and reasonable pricing. They know O&P. They have happy, satisfied customers.
If I am a potential customer what do you think I am going to value more? The fact that you have happy, satisfied current customers or that you “do a lot” for the O&P industry? I am going to go out on a limb here, pun intended, and say that most peoples’ number one concern is themselves and although “doing a lot” for the industry is noble, it may not be the marketing message that clicks with a potential customer.
Make life easier
At the end of the day customers want a company or practitioner who is going to make their life easier, or if not easier, they better not make it more difficult. What is it about your company that makes peoples’ lives easier? What problems are you solving? What are you doing to prevent or reduce aggravation?
My wallet was stolen about 10 years ago. I’m not sure why, but I used to keep my Social Security card in my wallet. I know what the number is so I never thought about getting a new card until I moved to New York and I needed to get a new driver’s license. I had to go to the local Social Security Administration office. If you want to feel what “because I said so” feels like, head on down to your local Social Security office and see what they are doing to reduce people’s aggravation when they need to do something like get a new Social Security card.
Nothing. They do nothing. Because they are not open past normal business hours, the dismal waiting room is crowded with people who are waiting for an inefficient system to call their number.
Then head on over to the DMV and take some notes and maybe some pictures.
Now it is time to go back to the office and figure out how you can explain to your potential customers, referral sources, etc., that you are not like the DMV or the Social Security office. Every time you get the urge to communicate “because I said so” in your marketing message, get out those pictures of the DMV to remind yourself of what not to do.
Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.