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1. Don't fear failure

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." (Churchill)

I've had clients with multi-million dollar budgets and I have worked with smaller firms. All have needed to test various offers and approaches. While experience can help to improve the odds of success, marketing lacks 'laws of physics' since you're dealing with human behaviour. You need to try things and through that process learn from failure. That means marketing activities will have good and bad returns. Marketing is volatile in the testing phase. As with volatile stocks and investments, it can be profitable when managed well.

2. Build great products

"Good advertising will only make a bad product fail faster." - Bill Bernbach

So what constitutes a good product (or service)? And what makes for a great business that can sustain demand over time? There are actually few really great businesses. On most global stock exchanges you'd be hard pressed to find many companies or brands that have existed in their current form for twenty years or more. The challenge for business is to develop products and services that can connect to markets in an enduring way, responding to change. Marketing can only tell the story. It's hard to build better products and services that make for great businesses, but we admire people who do. The Dyson company is a poster story for export success. Read James Dyson's autobiography and you'll find the route to his success took a great deal of trial and error. Marketing as a discipline has '4 Ps' (product, price, place and promotion). Perhaps it's the product that's the most powerful of those.

3. Be honest with customers Firm owners often are, and should be zealous about their products and services. Yet every business and product has its flaws. There are no perfect businesses. From the customer’s point of view, they're wanting to choose those they trust and like to solve their problems, help them profit or fulfil their passions. It's better to introduce your product to the customer honestly, admitting weaknesses alongside strengths. For example, the sports car that sells for a quarter of the price of a Ferrari: "It handles as well as a Ferrari, but at this price has yet to build the same pedigree." Building trust first can work better than outright promotion.

4. Build credibility

All business is based on one thing: a trusted relationship. Traditionally such relationships were face to face and by inspection, as goods were bought and sold at markets. Now relationships are moving online. I trust that EasyJet will honour the future flight of my e-ticket purchase. For smaller businesses without a known brand, trust has to be earned through demonstrated credibility. The marketing formula is deceptively simple: Get attention. Demonstrate credibility. Prove an advantage and persuade people to take that advantage for themselves. Ask for action. Implementing this formula successfully is easier said than done. Credibility

is the most crucial component. The best way is to demonstrate. I was involved with a skincare company for a number of years that developed a successful product for mature women. One of our most successful TV ads featured a customer who had been using the product for some time. She fronted the camera, telling thousands of people truthfully, "I’m 47 and I’ve been using this product for the last two years but most people I meet think I’m still in my thirties." Of course the camera was true to her word.

5. Get attention “There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.” - Alfred Hitchcock I remember seeing Jaws (the movie) for the first time. Sitting in the cinema, the opening underwater shots feel like a bomb ticking. It could have started with the sheriff quitting his job in the city and moving out to the island in search of a quieter life. Instead it begins with some teenagers on the beach who decide to go skinny dipping and one pretty girl who meets the shark. It's one of the most attention grabbing and terrifying openings in film. Marketing works the same way. You need to get people's attention and interest from the outset if you want them to take a look. That's the first job in any campaign.

6. Tell a good story “The original source of conviction is emotion.” - Joseph Jastrow,

The Psychology of Conviction.

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

- Rolls Royce advertising in America, David Ogilvy. Challenged with increasing Rolls Royce sales in America, Ogilvy first devoted his time to the factory floor, interviewing the engineers who hand built the cars. From that emerged this timeless story; it was the ticking of the clock that was audible at cruising speed. Apparently the chief engineer at Rolls-Royce was heard to later remark, “it’s about time we did something about that damned clock.”

It's the job of marketing to connect engineering with the marketplace. Good marketing frames the mechanics of the product to show customers how it might solve their problem, help them profit or inspire their passions.

7. Get the marketing plan right The trouble with marketing is that it's time consuming, resource intensive and challenging to automate. Establishing a marketing plan upfront with the help of an expert should save time and money by preventing you from knocking on too many of the wrong doors. Devoting some smart resource to marketing will provide a return on investment in terms of growth, first for your business and ultimately if successful in numbers - for the wider economy. Be prepared to test, invest in building great products, demonstrate credibility, gain interest, plan correctly and rewards will follow.

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