See, we’re just getting to know each other and I’m already giving you some inside scoop. That’s just the kind of Maven I am. Here are a few of my “Rules of the Road” for your reference ~ based on precious lessons learned, often the hard way, during my time in the entrepreneurial marketing trenches…
Don’t sell your product ~ nobody wants it.
Wait, hear me out. What I’m saying is… normal human beings don’t inherently wake up every day jonesing to buy products, yours or anyone else’s. What folks want is to solve a problem, satisfy a need, or fulfill a desire. They won’t care about your product unless your marketing makes them care. So, don’t “sell your product” ~ instead, focus on creating a genuine, direct, meaningful connection with your target customers. Understand what makes them tick. Know their situation and perspective. Speak to them in their language, about what they want and need ~ rather than what you have to sell. (See Messaging Mistakes.)
Yes, finding that core group of committed “cult” customers is key to helping you build your business, validate the value of what you’re providing, and spread the word about how incredible your stuff really is. You absolutely want loyal customers who will stick by your side, through thick and thin, ever singing your praises. But, don’t let those customer enthusiasts, aka the cult, entice you into drinking the Kool-Aid. Stay objective, ever vigilant and dedicated to always, always monitoring, improving, and expanding the customer value that you offer.
The vast majority (80%) of new business ventures fail ~ you know that, right? What separates the winners from the losers? Entrepreneurs who succeed are the ones who understand the fine art of evolution. Being agile and willing to evolve is essential to your survival. Stay true to your vision, while letting go of being rigid about exactly how the path to your destination will unfold. On the flip side, remember that change for change’s sake is not evolution. Actually, it can be deadly. If you incessantly change your product, your marketing, or your messaging ~ without a validated reason or a managed approach ~ you’re gonna confuse everyone… your staff, current & potential customers, the market at large. You know what Darwin had to say about natural selection.
Avoid waking up with the execution uglies.
Your vision for the future is golden. But, here’s the rub… translating that vision into effective execution is seriously hard. This is the place where entrepreneurial companies are most likely to get stuck. When it comes to your marketing, the execution uglies can be your worst nightmare. If you don’t have a practical, focused, affordable, executable roadmap plan, you’ll never get out of the starting gate. A rule of thumb from the Maven… do the math on what you think its gonna take to execute your marketing ~ time, money, resources ~ and multiply that by three (ok, five). That’s a good place to start.
And, I don’t mean just this Maven. Regardless of where you find it, you need real marketing expertise on your team. Would you hand your product over to the intern or receptionist to build? I certainly hope not. Creating your marketing is no different from creating your product ~ it takes proven, real-world, been-there-done-that experience and know-how. Otherwise, you’re greatly jeopardizing your chances of marketing success.
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