Sending out the right messages

This month, our marketing expert suggests carefully crafting your message to customers

Published:  13 August, 2014

By Andy Vickery

In order to create relevant and appealing marketing which works hard for your business, you first need to define your market and also your ideal customer. We looked at this in detail within Aftermarket's new responsive e-newsletter which was sent out this month.* *ahem...couldn't resist a plug here...drop an email to if you want to receive the weekly eshot which is tailored for any viewing device and includes exclusive technical and business content.

Here, I want to focus on how, once you know your market, you can then create relevant messages that resonate with them. After all, only by knowing who you are talking to will you know what to say.

It is obvious that many do not apply these basic principles. Most of the marketing I see, whether it's advertisements, direct mail or emails, tend to follow the same pattern. The content of the promotion tends to focus on the name of the garage, followed by a list of services and a big phone number. The problem is, apart from the logo and design, all the adverts are the same - all the garages are saying the same thing and the message is all about them, not the customer.

This approach is not unique to garages, it's endemic to most small businesses that believe that marketing is just about 'getting your name out there' and listing what you can do. The problem is it's not enough; there's too much competition and choice for customers so a generic message, which doesn't focus on anyone in particular, quite frankly just won't work hard enough for you. People don't buy from you just because of what you can do. They use someone because they have a problem or need a solution. Then they need more information that persuades them that you are the right 'fit' for them. And this is where things like trust, credibility and believability come into play.

For new prospects, it may take time and persistence with a series of messages to build the awareness they need to make a decision. Be prepared to invest time and money to win that customer. It's the long-term value of a customer you are investing in, not a one-off sale.

Many businesses struggle with delivering multiple messages. There is a tendency towards impatience; they do one thing, once only, then when nothing happens decide it's a failure. Nobody responds to the advert with the big logo and list of services because they need to know more and they may not need you right now. With a series of specifically crafted messages, over a period of time, you will stand a better chance of being at the forefront of their mind when the time is right.

Another consideration is that one of your markets will be your existing customers who will have a certain level of awareness as they've used you before. Messages to your existing customers can be more product and service focused. Having said that, I always like to take the 'belt and braces' approach and maintain a degree of emphasis on the qualities and values which made those customers choose you in the first place, that way there's less chance of them falling for a competitor's promotion.

A good analogy is it's a bit like talking to someone at a party - if you know them you can pick up where you left off, but if they are new to you, you may need to break the ice.

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