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Better Business Idea #58

The Elements of a Successful Marketing Campaign

© 2002 by Michael C. Gray

July 31, 2002

There are three elements required for a successful marketing campaign (and, thus, for a successful business venture): market, message, and timing.

First, you need a properly selected market. The market must be sizeable enough or have enough resources to support a business. For example, bubble gum requires billions of sales for pennies to be profitable. Jet airplanes require relatively few big-dollar sales. In between is a big range. The numbers have to work, or the business won't work. A marketing-oriented business and it's products are designed around satisfying (delighting) the target market. Understanding this opens up the company to "back end" possibilities beyond traditional businesses of its "type." For example, CPA firms who serve substantial individuals are now offering clients financial planning and financial products (mortgages, securities and life insurance) in addition to traditional tax and accounting services.

Second, the message, including the offer, must appeal to the market. Robert Collier described this as harmonizing with the thinking of the customer. You have to understand the customer enough to be able to describe the wants, fears, problems and desires of the customer and how your offering solves or satisfies them so well that the customer will swear you have been hiding under his or her kitchen table! ("How can I go home and tell my wife and kids we don't have the money for that trip to Disneyland we planned this year?") In order to get this information, you need to talk to people. It can be helpful to market to a group with which you have a common background, such as a former barber selling personal care products to other barbers.

Third, the timing of the offering is critical. The difference between salad and garbage is timing. Markets tend to go through "waves" when they are receptive to certain products and messages. Some old-timers remember the hula-hoop fad. There isn't much demand for buggy whips these days. Think of the fellow whose wife left with all of the furniture when he was at work one day. Last week, he wasn't interested in buying furniture. Now he's critically interested. If a furniture sales company has its message in his face at that moment, he will be highly receptive.

Writing about these elements is easy. Doing the research to understand how they relate to your business can be hard work, but very rewarding!

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