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Sales and Marketing, Part 2: Marketing Your Business in 6 Easy Steps


Sales and Marketing, Part 2: Marketing Your Business in 6 Easy Steps

This is the 1st in a 4-part series about how to create marketing and sales plans.
Part 1 covers creating a marketing plan.
Part 3 shows you how to create a sales plan.
Part 4 is all about creating a sales funnel.

Step 2: Telling Your Marketing Story
You’ve identified your target customer groups, what they’re like, and why they’re going to buy from you. The next step is planning how you’ll market to them, with an understanding that each group may require entirely different messaging, communication channels, and TLC. The best way to gain this clarity is to bring each group to life, from bullet points on a page to living, breathing customers. 

It’s an important step, because understanding your customers’ pain points lets you speak directly and honestly to them — and offer a solution.

How to Create Stories That Ring True
Putting yourself into your customers’ shoes requires a mixture of research, firsthand experience, and empathy. It isn’t automatic and shouldn’t be pulled out of thin air. (And, if you’re on this site, you don’t have a 100-person marketing department to provide you with first-party smartphone tracking data or basket analyses. You do have your own experiences, however, and those are just as valuable.)

If you’re struggling to think of who your clients are, or what they do, or where they struggle, keep it simple and true to everyday life. For example, think about one of your really good current customers. What is their name? What do they do for a living? Do they have a family? Think about the conversations you’ve had, what they’ve complained about, and what they’ve said about your products. You can also search through your online reviews for stories.

Your Marketing Story in 6 Sections
The previous article created a marketing plan for Dick’s Discount Cars, so this one will turn that plan into a series of stories. One of the groups looked like this:  

Group 1: Teenagers

  • Hourly workers, fast food employees, delivery drivers
  • $12-$15/hr. average pay
  • 16-19 years old
  • Excited, green, broke
  • They buy from us because they need a car to get to work or to drive to school, but they’re broke, so they want the cheapest car they can find. 

Your marketing story for this group will include 6 sections:
Section 1: Set the Table
Section 2: Hark! An Opportunity!
Section 3: Getting Stuck
Section 4: Finding Your Answer
Section 5: Empowering Your Buyer
Section 6: Starting Over, With Power

Section 1: Set the Table
Start by giving your customer a persona: a name, a backstory, and an environment that’s comfortable, average, and likely for them. This is admittedly a boring part of your story because nothing is happening, but it’s important for character development. For this group, it might sound like this:

Nancy Taylor is your typical teenage girl living in Los Angeles. She likes math, hates English, and skips the lunch period to go to McDonald’s with her friends every day.

Section 2: Hark! An Opportunity!
Here, you’ll establish why your character needs your service. An opportunity will arise for them, one they don’t know how to fulfill without you!

While at McDonald’s one day, Nancy sees a “help wanted” sign hanging in the window. It says the restaurant is hiring for after-school shifts and encourages high school students to apply. Nancy has always wanted a job to make her own money, and this looks like a perfect opportunity.

Section 3: Getting Stuck
Now think about how the characters might first try to meet their needs on their own, without your product. (Hint: They can’t.)

Nancy thinks about her options for getting to work and home on time. She checks the bus schedule, but it doesn’t run often enough. She asks her friends, but nobody will give her a ride. She can’t figure out how she’d be able to take this job.

Section 4: Finding Your Answer
In this part of the story, your character finds the answer to their problem, and it’s you!

Here’s how Nancy discovers you: 

Nancy is lamenting her inability to get to work when she hears a commercial on the radio for Dick’s Discount Cars. It says teenagers could get cars for as little as $100 a month! Nancy does the math and realizes that with her new job, she could afford a car!

Section 5: Empowering Your Buyer
Now that your character has bought your product, explain how it has empowered them to accomplish the opportunity you created in Section 2. Emotionally, how has this changed them and made them stronger and better? 

Now that she has a car, Nancy has more confidence than she’s ever felt in her life! She can go where she wants, when she wants. And with her new job, she can easily make the monthly payment and have lots left over. She feels like a rock star every time she clicks the button and the car doors unlock for her.

Section 6: Starting Over, With Power
Finally, take your character back to Section 1 and show the resolution. Specifically, how their world is forever changed because of your product. (Yes, that’s dramatic. But so is marketing.) 

Now, when it’s time to take off for lunch, Nancy is in charge! She invites her besties to ride with her in her car, and they always get the best table before the walkers get there.

And, scene. 

You now have a clear understanding of why your buyer buys your product from you and how you want it to make them feel. 

The 6-Section Marketing Story, Take 2
Here’s another example of how a marketing story can unfold, this time for a customer who’s a fellow business owner. Let’s say you sell insurance to small and mid-size businesses, and you’ve gone through the steps outlined in Part 1 to find your customers. Here’s what you’ve discovered:

Group 1: Small Business Owners

  • They are business owners, like you. If they’re just starting out, they may still have a second, part-time (or even full-time) job.
  • $30,000-$50,000/yr.
  • 30-50 years old
  • Extremely busy, problem solvers, risk takers, entrepreneurs
  • They buy from you because they either want to offer health insurance to their small staff of employees or they need coverage for themselves and their families. They like working with another small-biz owner, because they know you understand what they’re going through.

Here’s how to turn these data points into a story, along with a quick recap of what each section should include:

Section 1: Set the Table
Give your customer a persona.

Rajeev Shrivasinan started his custom cabinet company when he moved to Chicago in 1997. His business has seen steady growth since then, and he now employs 15 carpenters. He loves to work from his office, which is on the 5th floor of a building on a hill, where he can see most of downtown Chicago through his window. 

Section 2: Hark! An Opportunity!
Establish why your character needs your service. 

One day, Rajeev’s foreman and his best carpenter come to him in his office to discuss an important matter. They say that after 10 years, they can no longer work someplace that does not offer health insurance. They love Rajeev and the company, but they need to take care of their families.

Section 3: Getting Stuck
How your character tries to DIY it.

Rajeev googles “health insurance for company” but he doesn’t understand any of the complex terminology. He asks his brother, who offers health insurance to his employees, but he says he just pays the bill and doesn’t even know how it works. Rajeev knows he has to solve this problem, but he doesn’t know how.

Section 4: Finding Your Answer
The answer is you.

Rajeev doesn’t know where to turn. Then one day he’s opening his mail and sees your flyer. It reads, “Health insurance confusion? We’ve got your back! Call us today for a clear quote and answers to all your questions about offering health insurance to your employees.”

Section 5: Empowering Your Buyer
How your product has helped them accomplish Section 2.

Now that Rajeev has a friendly local health insurance broker, he knows he can keep his best people happy! He loves feeling like an employer who takes care of his people, and by offering health insurance, he feels like he is doing the right thing for them and their families.

Section 6: Starting Over, With Power
How their world is forever changed because of your product. 

Now that Rajeev’s company offers health insurance, many more carpenters want to work for him, and his business takes off. Rather than facing an uncertain future, he is instead in control of his future.

Click here to read the marketing stories for some of the world’s most well-known brands.

Up next … selling
With your brand stories in place, you will be well positioned to understand why your customers buy from you, what you’re really selling (the feeling they get), and how that goes so much further than the product itself.  

Part 3 will teach you how to use the information you’ve already gathered to create a sales plan. It will also show you how your marketing plan can help focus your selling efforts and how your sales plan can help track whether your marketing is working.

Related content:
Sales and Marketing, Part 1: How to Create a Marketing Plan
Sales and Marketing, Part 3: How to Create a Sales Budget and Plan
Sales and Marketing, Part 4: How to Create a Sales Funnel for Free
Sales and Marketing, Sidebar: Marketing Case Studies from the BigCos

If you’re struggling to think of who your clients are, or what they do, or where they struggle, keep it simple and true to everyday life.

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