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Small Business Marketing problems #5: lack of Message

OK, so you’ve got yourself a plan. You know what you’re selling, and at what price, and you know how to get it to the customers (or vice-versa). You think you have a pretty good idea of why people should care about what you’re selling. And you’re starting to build yourself a platform of people who are interested in hearing what you have to say.

Now what?

Ah, now comes the hard part: you have to figure out what you want to say to them.

In Made to Stick, Chip & Dan Heath talk about the Curse of Knowledge (note capital letters; read with appropriate drama). And the Curse of Knowledge is simply this: once you know something, it’s more or less impossible to remember what it was like to not know it. Which is why accounting professors can say things like “Ending Inventory is calculated by subtracting Cost of Goods Available for Sale less Cost of Goods Sold; recall that Shrinkage is a contra-asset account and therefore is increased with a debit.” and think that they’re being perfectly clear. It makes sense to them.

The Curse of Knowledge is why writing marketing messages is much harder than you think (it’s also why teaching is much harder than you think — consider that the next time you think your kid’s algebra teacher is getting paid too much): you know what you mean, and it’s easy to overlook the fact that your audience has no idea at all what you mean. That’s why they’re your audience.

The end result is that many marketing messages come out garbled and unclear — which makes them far less effective at marketing.

This is actually a pretty complicated issue, so we’re going to break it down further over the next several days, into

1) Lack of USP (No, really, why should your customers care? And have you told them that?)

2) Lack of focus (Having decided what the most important message is, are you communicating that? Or are you wandering off topic?)

3) Lack of articulation (Are you communicating that message in a way your audience can understand?)

Bare Minimum Marketing has whole sections on making sure your message is a good fit for your target market. Learn more at Indiegogo.