Here's a news flash from well-known speaker and author David Avrin: Your marketing probably sucks. Ouch, right? In his latest book, Visibility Marketing, Avrin pulls no punches after years of consulting with companies about messaging and marketing. He concludes that most companies are using the same, competency-based messages - which may have worked in the past but don't work now.
What led him to this? I sat down with Avrin to find out, and in between grins and laughter, I learned a ton. According to Avrin, whose book launches this week, the marketplace is populated with great companies that are smart, strong, lean and good at what they do. It's no longer effective to suggest that your company is simply better than your competitors because 1) it's probably not true and 2) the marketplace is fed-up with hearing the same trite messages over and over again.
Says Avrin, if you continue to use tired, competency-based messages such as "we have the best customer service" or "we only use the freshest ingredients," then you are just one of many voices in the crowd saying the same dull thing. Are your competitors using stale ingredients? No. Are your competitors providing mediocre customer service? Probably not.
According to Avrin, the new normal is that everyone is good, and offering a quality product or service is table stakes. And the marketplace is rejecting competency based messages.
So what do you?
Avrin offers a number of ideas and even includes exercises at the end of each chapter in his book to help you figure it out. A few highlights:
Everybody's good. Why are you better?
Because quality now abounds, you have to offer potential customers a compelling reason why they should switch to your company. Most of your prospects are already getting their needs met somewhere, so you need to explain why you are better and convert them. In his book, Avrin discusses a company called Hydro Flask, which makes a compelling case why it's insulated water bottles are better than its competitors. The company shipped filled bottles via postal mail to reporters and asked them not to open them until they were called three days later. Upon opening the bottles, reporters found (drum roll, please): ice. Hydro Flask showed why their insulated bottles are better than their competitors. After three days and a trip through the mail, still visibly ice cold.
According to Avrin, when you think of visibility and traditional marketing, visions emerge of bright buildings, colorful outdoor advertising and perhaps guys waving signs by the roadside. Today, we must be visible where our customers congregate, in the publications they read and the websites they visit. Those who win in business are very successful at broadcasting their messages into the lives of their prospects. Avrin also points out that you can continue with the "biggest and the brightest" messages but realize that you better be larger than life. He mentions how the Burj Khalifa in Dubai isn't just the tallest building in the world, but the tallest by 700 feet. It's impossible to ignore in its category.
To what question are you the answer?
So perhaps you don't have the best water bottle or the tallest building, how do you market your product or service? According to Avrin, you don't have to be the absolute biggest or the best, but you have to be the best choice for your target market. In the book, he offers exercises on how to develop differentiators for your business. Today, we have to step back and ask hard questions, he advises. Why are we different? Where are we vulnerable? If we could recreate our company or product, how would we do it differently? And one of Avrin's favorites: To what question are you the answer?
If you are simply looking for another book with tired platitudes and over-told case studies, then this is not the book for you. However, if you value a straightforward, actionable and an often irreverent take on how to improve your business and get more customers, then I highly recommend Visibility Marketing.
Are you using competency based messages? And to what question are you the answer?
Cross-posted on DavidPRBlog.com.