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January 1, 2010

The Secret to great marketing (Hint, it has nothing to do with ads!!)

I subscribe to something in Australia called The Catch of the Day. The idea is simple. One email, sometimes two, every day with one really good deal in it. Whether it is accessories for your iPod, a new LapTop or top class wine. Some day they will feature something that will make your life better some how, and you will be able to get it for a bargain.

Why does this work? Sure, there is the permission marketing element. I have asked to receive these emails, therefore they are expected and I am more likely to buy something from them.

But why would I, or anybody else, decide to subscribe in the first place?

Because they had something that appeared to be scarce (the cut price offers) and valuable (meaning I would like to have some of the things they offer).

Marketing is one of those areas where there is a lot of noise and distraction. Are display ads really dead? Is permission marketing really the way of the future? How much value could trust Based Assets add to my business today? And so on and so forth...

The real secret however is that before you can market anything  you need to offer something. And is it isn't something that is a) scarce and b) of value, then no marketing strategy in the world is going to help you to sustainable success.

Scarcity seems frightening at first, particularly if you are in an area which is very competitive. Your natural tendency is to compete on price. But if you compete on price - then you could win!!

Instead, look for differentiators. Something that will make you stand out and give you the appearance of scarcity.

Financial planners are pretty commonplace these days. But ff all the other financial planners are open from (say) 9 - 5pm, then why can't you open from 2pm to 9:30 pm? Suddenly you are scarce because you're open when nobody else is.

Highly commoditized industries like industrial services means you need to really provide something special. Your scarcity could come from your track record and history, or the skills and competencies of your people specifically, or a combination of that plus the ability to provide benchmarking information for service improvement.

Apple became scarce by putting their price up, great design, and having a seamless interface with the software to purchase the raw materials. (The songs and videos) What could you package together to provide a totally different service?

Gym memberships are pretty commonplace these days. Companies like Curves have differentiated themselves by catering to women exclusively. other do so by catering to other niche demographics. So that area is gone. You could make a splash, you could steal some of the market share, but once a trick has been performed in public, with success, it is almost impossible to duplicate.

How else could a Gym differentiate itself then? maybe through packaging? Any subscription model is great for  consistent repeatable revenues, so there is some room to move.

What about a Gym that offered you the membership, plus access to these (?) classes and courses, plus a 5 (?)  session introduction to one of the personal trainers, plus $50 credit to spend on items above $120 in the sports store, plus...

Or what about challenging the way that the recruitment industry currently works? Instead of finding good candidates for roles, how about gathering good roles for the best candidates. Instead of collecting clients then filling orders, try to collect the best potential in teh marketplace, then place then in the role of their dreams.

Scarcity is in the eye of the beholder. You challenge is to define what would set you apart as the sole provider of (whatever) even in a crowded marketplace. Once you have that, and it works...then we can talk seriously about marketing.

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