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Marketing is about educating people from OUTSIDE your own circles before you can sell to them

September 17th, 2015

I had a conversation with an individual, the other day: We were talking about politics. They made a comment about how raising taxes on corporations was a job killer and an investment-reducer to our country - a statement with which I agreed. I said "Unfortunately, this is a topic that many Canadians simply do not understand or relate to; Politicians need to do a much better job of educating the public as to the why's of higher corporate taxes being bad and how it would relate to the common man and woman - from the Tim Hortons' worker to the janitor to the street sweeper right up to the doctors, nurses and engineers.

My friends' response was "I disagree - all of the people I talk to know the economy is the single most important thing in an election"

This was my light bulb moment for this article: Marketing is not about only reaching out to those who already agree with or think like you do: It is about reaching out to both the people who disagree with you or are not even aware that you exist.

When you are getting an idea out to the general public - be that an idea about your product, your service, your political party or even about yourself: You need to consider your audience. It is very, very important to re-iterate "out to the general public" - You are not talking solely to the highly educated or solely to the highly partisan or even solely to those who are interested. You are definitely NOT talking only to "your circle", who already tend to have a bias towards what you are talking about or selling - because you have already gravitated towards those who are more receptive to your ideas.

You need three things to successfully get a message out to the public and have it not only well received, but understood:

  1. It must be of personal interest to the reader. Why would they care ?
  2. The reader must be able to relate to the matter: How does it affect them right now ?
  3. The reader must be able to see how your message will impact their lives: What will change for them if they follow/respond to your message ?

One of the common examples in politics is parties talking about X costing or saving billions of dollars.

Your average citizen does not think in terms of billions of anything - and certainly not dollars.

So how do you make a billion dollar cost or savings relate to Jane and Joe Average ? It is easier than you might think: How much larger or smaller will the personal tax bill be for an individual ?

"Investing in this national program will cost the average tax payer $5.32 on their annual income taxes" actually makes personal sense to the reader.

Saying "investing in this national program will cost 5 billion dollars" simply does not resonate with the vast majority of the general public.

Saying "Investing in this program will prevent thousands of citizens from " does not resonate with the reader: The vast majority of people do not even KNOW "thousands of people". How do you make it relate ? "Investing in this program will allow your local governments to focus more of your tax dollars on the things that you use or rely on every day, like roads, fire departments and schools"

Bring your message home to the individual reader: In nearly all cases, one can come up with a benefit or upswing for the common person, be they a minimum wage earner or a multi-millionaire:

  • How many dollars per week/month/year will it save or cost the average user ?
  • How many hours per day/week/month will it save the average person ?
  • How many additional sales will your product make for the users' company

When you are proof reading your next message to the general public - be it an advertisement, a social media campaign or a press release - Don't just think about how your colleagues or your personal friends will react or interpret it - After all - we, as human beings, tend to gravitate towards and associate with those that think similarly to ourselves; Ask yourself how someone you don't associate with would read it. Ask yourself how a low income earner would read it. Ask yourself how someone who does not even use a product or service in the same category as what you are offering would read it.

Here is but one example: If you are selling horse saddles and you decide that you want to expand your market across the nation - Keeping in mind that yes, there absolutely is a critical need for targeted marketing to people who are educated and aware of your products: But to create an ad for the general public, would you go on about the quality of craftsmanship of the saddle ? The comfort and feel of the saddle ? The great price of the saddle ?

No. First, you need to get people to ride a horse in the first place: So you educate: You talk about the joys of horse back riding; The health benefits, both physical and mental, of horseback riding. You show people where the closest stables are.

Once you get them on the horse, THEN you can start selling them a saddle.

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