How to Market to a Marketer

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When marketing to a marketer, throw out most of what you think you know about the subject. Set aside those years of studying and practicing the craft of marketing, and think simple.


The goal is to make your product or service rise above the pack while delivering your key message. When the goal is achieved, it is evident in your bottom line. Marketing your product to this tough audience does not have to be an ominous challenge, if you follow a few simple steps.


What is your message? Creating your message is the first step. We live in a flood of communication, so setting your product apart from the clutter is essential. What can your product help people achieve? How can your product help them do their job better? What problem does your product solve for them? Why did your customers choose your product over another? By answering these questions, you have laid the groundwork for developing your product's message. After honing in on your message, consider your audience.


Stick to the facts. Have you ever read a product brochure and could not determine the product's purpose? Marketers sometimes let their talents get the best of themselves and miss their target. Marketing run amok. Treat your prospects as the marketing professionals they are. Make your message straightforward and concise. These people are just like you. They have their own product to spread the news about, which is what they are looking for you to help them accomplish. By making your message as clear as possible, you rule out the possibility of misinterpretation. If you can't explain your product or service in one or two clear lines of concise text, don't bother doing it at all.


Avoid phrases and lingo developed by your crack team of marketing wordsmiths. Remember, you are appealing to marketers. They are, or share an office with, those marketing wordsmiths. If your Web site must include a glossary of terms and acronyms for your prospects to understand your product, you probably have overthought your message. Think of the messages that draw your attention. For example, when you hear "snap, crackle, pop," you think of Rice Krispies. Simple, direct messages get to the heart of the matter and can even make you hungry.


Once you have prepared your message, it is time to send it - but how?


Develop a plan and stick to it. Every worthwhile endeavor must have a direction to be successful. It's wise to formulate six-month, one-year and long-term plans with budgets for your marketing efforts. In what trade shows should you exhibit? Where should you place advertising? Should you create separate literature for each product or roll it into one? Your marketing plan should address these questions.


For example, if your competition is exhibiting at a trade show, you should consider exhibiting there, too. Every marketing effort should relate directly to your plan. Record your marketing plan and budget on paper and refer to it frequently. Consistently review your progress, and make minor adjustments when needed. You don't always have to follow the pack. Find different vessels for your message. Perhaps advertising your product in a trade magazine for small-business marketers might open new channels for sales.


It doesn't have to cost a fortune.Getting the biggest bang for your buck starts with good research of all available marketing vessels for your message. However, there are a few ways to reach marketers with your marketing product that cost little to nothing.


A well-organized public relations effort is a good place to start. Either inhouse or outsourced, your dollars can go far with the right people getting the news out on your product. Also, consider speaking opportunities. Trade shows, seminars and forums may accept proposals for speakers on your marketing product's space in the market. Look to your resident expert to deliver your marketing message face to face. Speaking opportunities can be made more effective when you bring a customer along. Try looking at your customers' use of your product as a story. Either written or verbal, your customers may fascinate fellow marketers with a powerful message about their own marketing efforts through the use of your product.


<B>Make friends and influence people.<B> The best compliment you can receive is when someone says, "I heard about your product from one of your customers. They told me they enjoyed working with you guys." Call it viral marketing or word of mouth, it is the most effective marketing tool for getting your product noticed. Happy customers can be your best marketing effort. And they deliver great return on investment. Although this isn't brain surgery, it's one of the hardest marketing efforts to maintain.


Every member of your company's team must understand the value of each customer and prospect. Hire people who take pleasure in being helpful and will care about your customers' needs. Although this is generally the rule of thumb in sales and customer service departments, carry this philosophy over to all departments. From business development to marketing to your product engineering departments, this is the face and voice of your company. There is nothing a fellow marketer - or anybody, for that matter - appreciates more than consistent, quality service.


In many ways, marketing to marketers is easier than marketing to the masses. Being straightforward, organized and caring can do more for your brand awareness than any wave from a marketing magic wand.


• Michael Pridemore is CEO of Socketware, Atlanta.
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