Marketing message strategy testingA software company contacted us to share their tale of woe. They had invested a considerable amount in several marketing campaigns that produced fruitless results.

They believed they needed to work with a marketing agency – they wanted agency expertise. But they had concerns about hiring a new marketing agency when none of the agencies they had previously worked with had produced the results they were hoping for. How would they know that any other marketing agency would be better?

My answer was that they needed to work with an agency that would test their marketing – before rolling out major campaigns.

Being in the software industry, of course they knew the importance of testing to get all the bugs out before rolling out the full product. But they had not applied the same principle to their marketing efforts.

They would have saved much of their investment had they tested the marketing programs on a small scale and only run bigger campaigns when they had evidence they would work.

The approach we use, which is simple, inexpensive, and can be copied by almost anyone, involves reaching to the target market and testing different messages and offers on individuals. We start with just 20-50 people. It’s a small sample size, but it is often enough to get a sense of how people respond.

If what we try doesn’t work, we try something else. We might change the target market slightly, perhaps reaching out to VPs of Marketing instead of VPs of Sales. Or we might change the way we describe the software.

We keep iterating until we find a formula that works consistently – until we have a group of people who are interested in the software, a way to describe the software that gets people excited, and an offer people respond to.

Once we have that, we can have a higher degree of confidence that investing in a full-fledged marketing campaign makes sense.

Another trick we use gets our prospective customers to give us help writing the marketing copy.

We use our formula (which is working now) to get people to talk to us about the software and give us feedback about the concept.

The key question we ask them is why people won’t want to use the product. Yes, that’s right. We ask for the reasons they won’t use it. It sounds counter-intuitive, especially since you want copy that says good things about your product. Yet asking like this makes people comfortable enough to freely share objections.

Once they share objections, then you can talk them through the issues and figure out how to handle the objections.

Do that again on the next call. It only takes a dozen or so conversations to identify most of the common objections you will encounter during your sales cycle and come up with ways to address them.

That becomes your marketing copy.

You can use that on your website, in email campaigns, in advertisements, and in any other marketing you do.

Buckle up. The road can be bumpy and frustrating. It is possible that you won’t get a lot of enthusiasm from prospects when you start. Stick it with and you’ll find the ideal market, message and offer. And you will have done it affordably. Now you can take the money you save on marketing campaigns that wouldn’t have worked and pour it into marketing that does work. That’s exciting!

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