The right marketing question

The wrong question is: “Our project isn’t catching on, how do we promote it better?”

The right question is a little more nuanced and far more important:
“We’re seeking to make a change in part of the world. How do we find the right people and tell them the right (true) story that helps them get to where they’re going – and that they’ll tell to their peers?”

It’s worth breaking this down and understanding the components:

  • make a change: Any project that seeks to maintain the status quo is difficult to grow. You’re here to make a change and the first step is being clear about what that is.
  • the right people: Nothing worth spreading is built to appeal to everyone. So, who is your someone? What do they want, fear and believe? How do you shift from being mediocre to being specific?
  • the right (true) story: Marketing is never about the full experience of all the facts, specifications and impacts of your product or service. It’s the story we tell ourselves about it. A story of status, affiliation, of change and fear. If that story is true, then you can continue to build on it over time and users won’t end up disappointed.
  • that helps them get to where they’re going: It’s very difficult to prove a prospect or customer wrong; hard to get them to want something they don’t want. The opportunity lies in helping them get what they wanted all along.

and finally …

  • that they’ll tell to their peers:Not to everyone, but to people who trust them. Why would they do that? They won’t do it for you, they’ll do it because it raises their status, increases connection or gives them some other form of satisfaction.

Promotion might make sense after you’ve got all of this figured out.

Seth Godin is the author of 19 best seller books and Founder of the altMBA and The Marketing Seminar online workshops. His blog is one of the most popular in the world and his five TED talks continue to spread far beyond USA borders. Seth was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame in 2018.

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