The Limits of Traditional Marketing Part 3 – Challenging the Assumptions of Traditional Marketing

I recently wrote two articles about the Limits of Traditional Marketing.

The first was about rejecting the notion that people only buy from us when we solve an urgent problem. You can read it here:

The second was about the power of creating and using your own original words and phrases. You can read that here:

The point I want to make is NOT that traditional marketing is bad and icky (though it can be, that’s for sure!)

It’s that:

  • More traditional marketing works well for more traditional businesses.
  • It can work well for selling things that have common-denominator, mass-market appeal.
  • It works well if you are using more impersonal, direct-response strategies that are designed to do everything possible to tip the scales for people taking an immediate or impulsive “yes” action.

(By the way, by Traditional Marketing, I mean standard entrepreneurial marketing, with its more recent emphasis on direct-response marketing as its practiced in online marketing, NOT big corporate business marketing which can be a whole other ball of wax.)

But many of the basic principles of more traditional marketing, especially direct-response marketing, aren’t as relevant for original, out-of-the-box businesses, and more personal, intimate, transformational businesses.

Those “traditional” principles are often based on underlying assumptions that don’t apply to you or to the work you are bringing out in the world.

Assumptions like:

  • What you offer fits easily in a box
  • What is great about your business can be described in terms of concrete, bottom-line benefits that appeal to large numbers of people
  • People buy because of the outcome or results you provide, not the process or experience
  • People buy because of the information you give them about your produce and service and not the feeling or experience they have in your presence or in the presence of your marketing materials
  • Your primary reason for being in business is to make money and WHAT you do to make money is secondary, you can change what you offer if it makes marketing easier
  • Your credibility comes from testimonials and success stories and your own position as a “success”
  • You don’t have an existing, trusting relationship with the people you are making offers to

How many of these assumptions actually apply to you and to what you offer?

Many of my clients have willingly, eagerly signed up for marketing trainings, only to discover they were a mismatch. That they struggled to answer the questions they were asked, come up with the language they are being asked to come up with. Think in the way they are being asked to think.

And then they felt like dummies, or misfits, because what they couldn’t make good use of what they were being taught.

Because the most dangerous assumption of all is that if you don’t follow these rules of marketing, as you are taught them, YOU WILL FAIL and NO ONE WILL EVER BUY FROM YOU!

Look, there are marketing fundamentals that are useful to understand and practice:

  • Identifying who your best or ideal clients are
  • Understanding what matters to your potential client and motivates them to invest
  • Finding the language your clients use to describe their problem or situation
  • Communicating the positive outcomes to your potential client of what you offer
  • Using repetition to reinforce your message
  • Creating a path for potential clients to enter your world

But many of my clients don’t realize they can apply those principles much more creatively than the way they are taught!

So, yes, figure out who your ideal clients are. Use your imagination and your experience to see them, feel them, know who they are.

But no, you don’t have to define them primarily or exclusively in terms of demographics (age, profession, geography).

Write and speak with love and intimacy to this client. Tell them what you see is possible, what you want for them. And no, you don’t have to create an “avatar” – Kathy, with three kids, who drives a Volvo – in order to do that.

Talk about the benefits and outcomes of what you offer, but talk about the process too. It does matter.

Yes, ask your clients what they want, and tell them, if you can, that what you offer will help them get that, but don’t stop there. Bridge from what they already know they want to what you know is possible for them. Paint a picture of what you want for them that goes beyond what they know, describe an outcome they might have never put into words as something they wanted.

Trust in your message and your ability to find and speak to the people who want and need what you offer.

Trust in those potential clients and their ability to make good decisions.

Trust in yourself and the beauty of what wants to come through you.

Marketing is not the bad guy.

It’s a good thing to learn. It’s a good thing to practice.

Just don’t make it, the way you’ve been taught it, your master.

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