If you’ve been following trends in exercise and fitness over the past few years, you’ve probably heard the phrase “core strength.” In anatomy, the core refers to the body or trunk (minus the legs and arms).
Core strength supports the spine, improves body control and balance, and increases power and improves athletic performance. Core strength develops your center of power. Though it’s the most important element of a stable body, assuring the transfer of energy during normal fitness and exercise, many people pay little attention to core strength because there’s nothing flashy about it.
Similarly, your business requires a strong marketing core to ensure both short and long-term success. Your marketing core serves as a touchstone for everything you do to advance your company. Unfortunately, many businesses ignore this and pursue marketing activities without a base foundation or core strategy to reference before taking action.
Without a marketing core, you may dutifully blog, pursue PR or implement an aggressive social media strategy, but see no results. Without a marketing core you can stay very busy marketing your business but reach the wrong people with the wrong message and never establish your brand and reputation.
Like a body’s anatomic core, your marketing core ensures that marketing tactics and tools emanate from a defined center of power that inherently supports and advances your core marketing objectives.
Core Principle #1: You Need to Focus
This is no time for unfocused marketing. If you do not know exactly whom you want to reach, and which prospects have a need (and ability to pay) for your products and services, it’s time to stop. Marketing without a clear focus means you risk investing your valuable time and resources in a way that does not speak in personal terms to real prospects. The Web has created a mandate of relevancy.
Consumers are swimming in information and have little patience for one-size-fits-all. Consumers seek information, products and services tailored to their own unique needs. By focusing on a niche, you can position your business as a one-of-a-kind provider of unique solutions that transcend commodity status. To determine if a particular niche is right for you, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have an identifiable target population with similar interests and needs?
- Is the market large enough to support my business?
- Can I tailor my products, services, and business identity to address that market’s particular needs?
- Is my target market currently underserved?
- Can I reach my potential customers in a cost-effective manner?
Core Principle #2: Thought Leadership
Thought leadership marketing is about offering your expertise to prospects, essentially injecting your business into the prospect buying cycle via articles, white papers, blog content, podcasts, and other educational marketing tools offered to prospects with no sales pressure at each stage of the buying cycle.
As a thought leader, you help prospects make informed buying decisions. Thought leadership effectively maintains your visibility in a ‘non-selling’ manner while enhancing your credibility. The most cost effective tools for online self-promotion–from blogs to social media to podcasts—all center on promoting your business as a thought leader.
When you implement a marketing strategy that serves the needs of specific niche audiences, you draw from a marketing core and develop a unique reputation as a one-of-a-kind solutions provider that keenly understands and speaks to the needs of your niche at a time when the noise level is higher and consumers are harder to sell.
The Internet has ushered in many channels to establish your expertise and reach prospects via thought leadership. But don’t forget traditional media strategies that can dramatically boost your reputation and build your brand as a Slightly Famous leader in your industry. Media coverage in national magazines, newspapers and trade publications still carries tremendous credibility…more than most blogs or social media websites.
Moreover, reprints of media coverage can be displayed on your website and used as effective sales tools. Thought leadership starts at the top. Whether you’re a CEO, company executive or solo professional, a company’s leaders are its most persuasive brand champions, setting the tone, voice and style that comprise your company’s public persona.
Core Principle #3: Establishing Your Brand and Reputation
Legendary investor Warren Buffett has built his career on trust, realizing that a company’s brand is its most valuable asset. When he took over troubled Salomon Brothers in 1987 he told bankers: “If you lose money for us, we will be forgiving. If you lose reputation for us, we will be ruthless.”
Your brand is the soul of your company, the sum of your entire business identity. Your brand works as your strongest marketer by communicating the relationship you have with people who’ve done business with you, and your target market in general.
Branding is the total integration of everything your company does, including public relations, to social media, customer service, networking, public speaking and community service. Your brand and reputation are your best defense against a cynical and information-overloaded world.
In these challenging times, you must market aggressively while never losing sight of establishing a good reputation. This is the core of your brand that will help you bid farewell to the anonymity trap, create a slightly famous you, and build a successful business.