A while ago, we noted down some helpful marketing tips for new ventures that are looking to get their name out there. Because that post focused on the more practical bits of how to craft and refine messaging, we thought it might be a good idea to talk a little more on who that messaging should be going to. That is, who is your ideal customer, and how do you attract them?
In broad terms, the answer is to define your core values, the people who relate to those values, and reflecting those worldviews in your brand.
It might sound a tad basic. But these are crucial — and often neglected — first steps. We often see companies (startups and incumbents alike) make the mistake in thinking that their product applies to everyone. However, that is rarely the case.
Not everyone likes the same things and harbor the same opinions, so if you try to cook up a message to attract everybody, the result might end up being so generic that you end up missing the mark and appeal to nobody.
The first step is to take a look at your product, and nail down the core values that define what you’re trying to do.
This might be addressing climate change, it might be safety in transport, it could be a borderless world, or it could simply be having a good time. Whatever your core values may be, once you’ve defined them, THEN you can go about figuring out how to push that message.
This process is different depending on the product at hand. If your values are designed into your product, or were a big part of the founding story, then it’s fairly straightforward.
For example, Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and adventure gear company which invented a climbing wedge that could be inserted and removed without damaging the rock face. The message they championed was to:
“Build the best products while creating no unnecessary environmental harm.”
This then attracts the kinds of customers who can relate the values of the company, and connect to the sustainability message. But this doesn’t mean that your worldview has to be all rainbows and sunshine. If your solution is to help businesses make more profit, then your core values lie in the benefits you bring to your cash hungry customers, so that’s the value you push.
Define the customer
Sometimes, finding out the values you should advertise is a two way process, because it could very well be that your product doesn’t have an inherent worldview attached to it — you may simply have something great that you want to sell.
In that case, you should think about what kind of customers you want to attract, how they view the world, and how to relate to their values.
You should be asking yourself: What is the personality of your customer? What are their problems? What does their day look like? What do they fear? What do they hope for?
To distill this, your formula should start with this summary: Our customer needs better ways to do x, because y.
The purpose of this exercise is to help your customer make an emotional connection to your brand. You can tell your customer how you can help them in so many ways and help them understand your proposition on an intellectual level, but what you are conveying is so much stronger when the audience can feel a connection with your message.
A good example of this is Ben & Jerry’s (a scrumptious ice cream brand, if you don’t know it). Now, ice cream isn’t inherently related to ideas like climate change and reducing military spending, but those are the values that the founders chose to represent in their marketing.
This means that when the customer buys a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, they’re not just getting a delightful snack, they’re getting a delightful snack that is also fighting climate change.
Once you have your core values sorted, you can start sculpting the messages themselves, and find ways to reach the kind of people that these values speak to. But always keep in mind, it’s not about sending out a whole bunch of different messages and campaigns and accept whoever comes calling — you should be choosing who to attract.