I am coming to the conclusion that marketing is all about attraction and desire. Really good marketing is keeping the attraction, always.
Obviously, a business has to attract customers and it can do this in many ways such as:
1. Have the best prices
2. Have the best value
3. Have great advertising
4. Have great customer experience
There are loads more and all make the business, service or product desirable in various ways. Ideally, when one begins marketing their company or product you want everything and that is to say best product, best prices, best design, best experience best, best best! because this is the most attractive to your audience. Of course this is a rare occurrence. When will any business really have the best ‘everything’? this is even more challenging for a start up.
Granted, if your business is truly disrupting a market (Uber, Airbnb, easyJet back in the day for example) then you don’t need to be best at everything because you’re new. The very fact you’re bringing something new to market gets attention and does a lot of the marketing for you because people talk about you / your business. This is peer to peer marketing at its best. Of course your product has to be good! you’ve got to walk the walk and meet expectations.
If Airbnb prices had been astronomical it would never have gained scale. If the Uber user experience was rubbish no one would use it.
However, the vast majority of new businesses are not truly disrupting anything. They’re just doing something a bit better than what ever exists in the current market. As a result the business must deploy a marketing strategy. Even more challenging is the fact that a new business doesn’t usually have much cash to burn on marketing.
What to do?
I’ve been talking about this to a few people. I am getting different opinions from almost everyone I talk to. PR has worked for some companies (remember Brent & Martha all over every newspaper, magazine and on TV back in 2000?), PPC has worked for many business but the landscape is facing macro change and challenging conditions, TV has worked (look at Trivago!) but you need cash, magazines and newspapers can work but how do you measure success?
I am wrestling with these conundrums and questions now, there are no easy answers. I am sticking to one principal though, build something good. OK, so it might not be perfect on first attempt but the vision remains. Iterations can follow launch but proof of concept is really what one needs to make a business model decision: Stick or twist? if the POC is good then keep going, keep getting better.
I am nervous of big bang marketing for this reason, suppose one launches with fanfare but you’ve built something no one wants, a lot of cash and time is wasted. I think small steps forward until you’re sure. If the product is good the marketing i money well spent. If the product is bad then your model is purely arbitrage as customers will only visit once. This surely spells disaster.
As a result I m now convinced, the only metric I need to follow is life time value of a customer. That number and movement of it tells me everything.