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Sunday, April 21, 2024

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Ignore the Company Video for Now

by Donald Montroy, Director of Marketing, Bergquist Inc.


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The great thing about marketing is that it is always evolving. There are consistently new thoughts on how to best reach customers, new technologies to promote products and services, and new ideas on marketing research. All of these innovations move the profession forward with each passing year, perhaps even each passing month or week. While the amount of opportunities to reach your audience may seem overwhelming, we, as marketers, get to choose the tactics that align with our business model and help deliver our message to potential and current customers.

Conversely, the frustrating thing about marketing is that it is ever changing, making us question which methods are most effective. Which social media platform is appropriate for our company and industry? How often should we post? Is print dead? Heck, is email dead? What kind of content should we use? Do we need to do A/B testing before we place an ad in our local newspaper, radio or TV station? Just what exactly is A/B testing anyway?

Crafting a Positioning Statement

You may find it comforting to know that the one thing that hasn’t changed much in the marketing profession is strategy. Strategy, of course, should come before we consider tactics. In fact, our marketing strategy not only helps us to decide which tactics we use, but is the foundation for achieving our marketing goals.

Before deciding on a goal, however, a solid positioning statement for our company should be crafted. This is an internal document that helps us define and remember key items to focus on, when crafting our message(s) to customers. This positioning statement is the basis for messaging that shapes how customers perceive us, or more accurately, perceive our company brand. The positioning statement should include three things: the industry we serve, the differentiator that sets us apart from our competitors, and some facts we can point to that prove it.

The first part is pretty straightforward. We’re in the retail propane industry, for example. Or if we’re diversified, we can say that we’re in the deliverable fuels industry. The second part takes a little more thought. Perhaps we offer better customer service than our competitors. Maybe we sell and service more appliances. Whatever it is, we need to back up our claim with some hard facts (e.g., we have a 4.9-star customer satisfaction rating on Google, we service the most Rinnai tankless water heaters in northwest Ohio, we have the most Autogas fueling stations in the state of Massachusetts). It should be noted that having the lowest price is not a solid differentiator. Although anyone can simply become the lowest-cost fuel provider, it takes significant time and energy to provide better customer service than competitors.

The marketing goals identified usually come from top management. Are we trying to retain customers or is our focus to bring in new ones? Do we want to do both? Do we need to increase revenue? Do we want to gain market share? Deciding which goal(s) we focus on will help us shape our marketing strategy. To be effective, however, focusing on one marketing goal at a time may be prudent.

Defining a Target Audience

Once a goal is chosen, say growing propane gallons for example, it’s time to identify the marketing strategy. Perhaps we should expand our showroom to include outdoor living products, upsell existing customers with new appliances, or add a new industry segment like forklifts, Autogas, or landscaping companies. Whichever strategy is chosen, it’s important to keep a customer group in mind, create a persona within that group, and spend marketing resources targeting that particular persona.

A persona helps to organize thoughts and stick to the objective. One first step could be to identify what job title this imaginary customer currently holds and other key demographics. How old is she? Is she married? What are her hobbies? Is she a key decision maker, or is she an influencer? Is she a college graduate? You get the idea. Along with the positioning statement and marketing goal, the answers to these questions will help determine how to craft the marketing message.

Keep the message fairly simple and on point. For instance, perhaps we say that with the tremendous industry growth in our area over the past 10 years, we’ve decided we want to grow the forklift cylinder business. Based on that, we then determined we should target warehouse supervisors with a minimum of 20,000 sq. ft. capacity. Our imagined persona is a warehouse supervisor that is the key decision maker for choosing a forklift fuel supplier. He is a married college grad that likes to read in his spare time. He genuinely values operational efficiency over price. We’re now talking directly to him with our message. We can, and should, ignore everything else for now. Craft a message that trumpets a key differentiator, “You’ll keep your operation running smoothly when you choose ABC Gas Co.,” or “With Springfield Propane, you never have to worry about your fuel source again.” We don’t need to mention our 4.9-star customer satisfaction rating on Google. We know it’s true. We can simply prove our hassle-free business day-in and day-out through our excellent customer service.

It is getting to this point — the understanding of what message to craft so that you are reaching your target audience — that is the key to any successful marketing campaign. 0Any tactics that are utilized are likely doomed without the basis of identifying a solid marketing strategy. Understanding the key differentiator, goal(s), and identifying a target customer is the backbone of a great marketing message and an overall brand.


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