Marketing 101

Marketing 101

There are so many misconceptions about marketing that I think it’s high time that someone distilled it to easy to understand, bite-size pieces, so that you can be empowered to properly market your own product, service or whatever it is you want to sell.

The first, most important thing to remember is that no one inherently WANTS to buy anything.

Everyone would rather keep all their money. This is a fact. If that is ingrained in your mindset move forward, otherwise, read the previous paragraph over and over until it is stuck in your head.

Second, people don’t buy things because they WANT the thing they are buying.

People buy things because they want what they will have once they have bought it. No one wants to buy a broom. They want to be able to get the dirt off the floor in a way that is more convenient than getting on their hands and knees and wiping the dirt into a pile with their hand. No one wants to buy a coffee maker simply because they sincerely want to simply be in possession of a coffee maker. They want to be able to make coffee in a way that is more convenient than boiling water in a pot (a pot, which, if they don’t have, they will also need to buy, because now they need one to boil water to make coffee), on their stove (which if they don’t have, they will also need to buy, because now they need a way to get the water in the pot hot enough to boil), and various other items to enable them to hold the ground coffee (which they also had to buy), strain it (must buy strainer), and have it land in either a pre-delivery vessel such as a PURCHASED carafe, or directly into the coffee mug (that they bought). A coffee maker isn’t the only way to make coffee, it simply solves the problem of needing several other things in order to do so.

Third, people DO buy things because they want the thing that comes beyond the thing that they are buying.

People buy children toys, not so that the child has toys, but so that the child has something to play with. The toy is a tool through which the child can play. Children can play, however, without toys, but where is the FUN in that? People hire maid services, not because they just want to be in possession of a maid service, but because they want their house clean, or because they want to use the time that they would have spent cleaning the house doing something else.

So, when considering selling a broom, a coffee maker, a toy, or a maid service, what should YOU, as the seller, be telling your potential customers?

The automatic inclination is to say things like:

“Broom For Sale”

“Buy This Coffee Maker”

“Get This Toy”

“Now Offering Maid Service”

The reason that this is an automatic inclination is because the psychology behind marketing is this: the phrases “buy this”, “order that”, “get this”, etc. are what our mind perceives as having happened. But that’s just not the case – when the marketing was done well.

Look at something that you have near you, that you can recall being an impulse buy. Let’s say it is a smartphone. Chances are you didn’t walk into a phone store, walk up to the counter and say, “One smartphone, please!” No, chances are you had an idea of which smartphone you wanted before you walked in, and chances are that you still looked around to consider all of your options, just to be sure.

Options. One of the magic sauces that goes into a strong marketing pitch.

You can get a 5.5″ screen for $550 or you can get a 6.5″ screen for $600. < There is distinct psychology in this. The first option is $100 per inch of screen. The second option is...who knows...but it can't be $100 an inch because then the price would be $650, and it's less than that, so ... let me consider that! The company who created the offer doesn't pay $50 more for the extra inch, they pay a fraction of that. They also paid a fraction of the $550 for the first 5.5 inches. The offer they present is to entice YOU into spending a little bit more. And it works. Let's get back to brooms. Not all brooms are created equally, but they ALL do the exact same thing: they enable you to get the dirt off the floor in a way that is more convenient than getting on your hands and knees and wiping the dirt into a pile with your hand. You can buy a used broom from $1 from a yard sale, or you can buy a broom on Amazon for (apparently) as much as $10,000! Now, your automatic question should be: what are the differences between the $1 broom and the $10,000 broom? This could be anything from the fact that the $1 broom is used, the bristles may be worn down, and there may be old tape wrapped around part of the handle, whereas the $10,000 broom is made of solid gold, the bristles are made from Himalayan emu tails, and it comes with a "complimentary" dustpan. The next automatic question then becomes: Do I need all that? Maybe you do. Maybe you're allergic to ALL other metals and ALL forms of bristles on earth, and the ONLY thing you can use MUST be made of gold and/or Himalayan emu tails. BTW, if that is you, I am very sorry about your luck in life. In reality, some brooms DO actually do a better job of picking up dirt and dust, and are therefore actually better. If you have children who are prone to getting ill when too much dust is present on the floor, then the yard sale broom is probably not a good match for your life. So where do we go from here? Well, we need to encapsulate all of the above in a single, easy-to-remember way of saying it, which is: "Tell people what they get by getting it." So, using the allergy-friendliness factor of our example broom, instead of saying, "Broom For Sale", (remember that no one WANTS to buy a broom, what they WANT is to protect their child from the potential dangers of dust), say, "Protect Your Child from the Dangers of Dust". Using the coffee maker example, instead of saying, "Buy This Coffee Maker", say, "Coffee Made Easy". If this is new to you, some of this phrasing is probably starting to ring true! That's my sincere hope, is that you, as someone who would REALLY like to sell some of your products or services, can do a better job of it, and not be left wondering why, even though you told people that you're selling brooms, that no one is buying them. I mean, come on, who doesn't need a broom? And you're selling them? Shoot, I will buy all of my brooms from you from now on! Sorry. It just doesn't work this way. Fourth, and this is a big one: NOT EVERYONE WANTS WHAT YOU’RE SELLING!

I had to yell that one out, because this is where a lot of people who have a product or service to sell, lose sight of how life actually works. We buy or don’t buy based on a number of factors, but before we even get into those, it’s important to understand the 3 phases that a potential customer is going to go through with every product that they buy (including the supposed “impulse purchase”). Every single customer, ever, is either:

  1. Discovering
  2. Considering
  3. Buying

That’s it. There are no other phases. It’s the same across the board with every person, every time.

If you’re a thrill seeker looking to try a new experience or two on your next trip to Hawaii, for example, you might start by looking up “thrillseeker experiences in Hawaii”. From there you will start to DISCOVER the options that are available to you, and chances are they will all be new to you. You might find that you are possibly interested in base jumping from a cliff, probably not interested in crocodile wrestling, and definitely (maybe) interested in touring an active volcano.

Now, when you consider these options, you see that the base jumping is $10,000, crocodile wrestling is FREE (and you come to learn that there are safety measures in place), and touring an active volcano is $25. Maybe you don’t have $10,000, so your options are automatically narrowed based on that. Maybe you do have $10,000 just sitting there in the junk drawer of your kitchen and it’s been collecting dust for years (we have a broom for that, by the way) and regardless of the fact that the other two are free or relatively (VERY relatively) cheap, you just REALLY want to do the base jump. The company promoting the FREE crocodile wrestling (who makes their money on “I Lost My Arms Wrestling a Crocodile And All I Got Was This Stupid Shirt” … shirts), from a marketing perspective is left wondering, “But we HAVE Crocodile Wrestling AND it is FREE! Why you no want?” Bottom line, not everyone wants every single thing they encounter.

Yes, even if you use online advertising with demographic and interest targeting to say, “Show this ad to everyone in the USA who is over the age of 21 and is interested in crocodile wrestling”. It just doesn’t work like this. Generally it works more like this:

For every 1,000,000 who “might” see your ad, it will only hit the screens of 100,000 of them.

Of the 100,000 people who’s screen your ad hits, 10,000 of them might actually pay attention to it.

Of the 10,000 people who paid attention to it, 1,000 of them might engage with it in some way (like it, leave a comment, click a link, etc.).

Of the 1,000 people who paid attention to it, 100 might consider it.

Of the 100 people who might consider it, 10 might buy.

Yes, 10.

Want to increase those odds, but keep the same targeting? Do your best at EVERY stage, but the most important stage is the first one: Consideration. Even if 100,000 people of the million who’s screen it crossed were given a better shot at knowing what it is they would get by getting it, you could increase the potential number of people who pay attention to it to double, triple or more.

I often use what I call “Extreme Illustrations” to really hammer points home. Take this one for example:

You have an unlimited supply of money. You decide you are going to give everyone who pays $1 for it, $1,000,000 in cash. Run an ad stating that you are selling bundles of a million dollars in cash for $1. The people will line up for years. So the trick is to make what you’re selling sound like it has IMMENSE value, FAR EXCEEDING the price people would pay to get it, at a price that makes it practically impossible to say no.

What about maybe $50,000,000 in exchange for $5. Would you do it? You say yes, but the truth is, you have this opportunity 2 or 3 times a week. It’s called the lottery. But wait, for an extra just $1 you can get the Extra prize…you get the idea.

$50,000,000 JACKPOT

10,000,000 people spend an average of $10

The lottery corporation earns $50,000,000 profit.

One person sometimes wins the full $50,000,000.

The lottery corporation does this 100 times a year. That’s at minimum $5,000,000,000 in profit.

Those 10,000,000 account for 1,000,000,000 purchases.

Of those 1,000,000,000 purchases, maybe 10 a year will win the jackpot. That’s 1 in 100,000,000 chance of winning. If you spent $5 100,000,000 there is a good chance you would win. It would cost you $500,000,000 to win $50,000,000.

It is because of this, that even for as small of a risk as it is, not everyone buys a lottery ticket.

If you could go to the free broom shop and get a brand new broom, free, would you? Maybe. The truth is, there are free things available everywhere all the time. You can get everything from free hot dogs on a certain day from a car dealership, to free money from a bank, just for opening up an account. Why free? Because there’s a catch. There’s always a catch.

Back to the broom.

The broom you bought, that “Protect Your Child from the Dangers of Dust” is no longer a “Protector of Children from the Dangers of Dust”, it’s back to being just a broom again. In fact, over time, the broom gets worn out, it’s missing bristles, there’s some old tape wrapped around the handle and it’s in your yard sale. You bought a new broom. You bought:

“New and Improved Protection for Your Child from the Dangers of Dust”!

Now you’re winning, and some poor soul who only has $1 is going to buy your old broom on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The point here is that the marketing can’t, and shouldn’t, ever really stop. If you have the one remaining artifact from the Milagro Bean Field War and you sell it, well, yes, you don’t need to keep trying to sell it. But for products and services, the selling never stops. As the great line from Glengarry Glen Ross told us, way back when: ABC: Always Be Closing, and so it is when it comes to marketing.

So whether you’re just getting started, or you’re a veteran purveyor or fine products and services, I hope that this has helped you in some way, and instead of seeing your ad for, “Underwater Video Cameras”, I hope to see your ad telling me that I can, “See What’s Under the Sea”.