Modern Marketing: Marketing by Magnetic Attraction

The principle of attraction is most frequently presented as a metaphysical concept, carried to foolish extremes—thinking will make it so. It won’t, but it is a legitimate principle when applied in a practical manner, as in a marketing strategy, and that’s what my trademarked Magnetic Marketing System is all about.

The idea is simple: Almost all marketing and prospecting is done as hunting, which makes potential customers or clients feel like prey. This naturally produces resistance. I prefer selling in a low-resistance environment, in which the consumer feels he is discovering, selecting and coming to you rather than your appearing uninvited and pushing a proposition. He has to choose you.

The smart questions are not: How can I “get past” the gatekeepers? How can I “get” an appointment? How can I “lure” a prospect to my showroom, store, preview seminar, webinar? And the worst question of all is: How can I sell something to somebody today? These questions have a primitive foundation: the caveman contemplating how he can find and kill a beast today so he and his brood can eat tonight.

Instead here is the much smarter, more sophisticated question: How can I set up a system of attraction that brings a steady, reliable stream of ideal potential customers or clients to me, asking for my advice or assistance as a trusted authority or provider in their category of interest or, even better, who are predetermined to be my customers or clients if accepted?

This is a much more complex question. It represents a major shift in approach. If you can accomplish this for your business, it might beneficially (and maybe radically) alter your entire experience of doing business. This question’s answers can eliminate commoditization and make competition irrelevant, minimize price or fee resistance, facilitate price elasticity and higher profits, make your time infinitely more valuable, and create a less stressful selling scenario for you and your customers—leading to greater customer satisfaction and more referrals.

So let’s be clear. Most advertising and marketing is product-centric and push-engineered: We’ve got this stuff to sell; how can we sell it? The diametrically opposite approach is customer-centric and attraction-engineered: Who are our ideal customers, and how can we attract and interest them? In abbreviated form, I’m going to show you how such a Magnetic Marketing System is built.

There are three parts to my Kennedy Marketing Triangle: message, market and media. One is no more or less important than the other; nor should they necessarily be in a 1-2-3 order.

Find the Best Target Market

Precision targeting to a select group of customer candidates is the secret of both financial/time efficiency and magnetic attraction. Simply, each person wants most what is clearly and specifically for him or her, not for anybody and everybody. I want to know: Is this for me? Why is this for me? And in every business, there is a specific high-probability prospect. A few examples…

A client of mine had a service, priced about $10,000, to sell to dentists nationwide. He was struggling, marketing to the entire profession. Examining his earliest buyers, I identified three facts:

1. They were all in outlying communities, not big cities nor rural areas.

2. They were all 55 and older.

3. Their reason for buying his service—which would help them start a sideline business, a weekend-operated dental assistant career school—was to accumulate more money for retirement than their practices would provide.

This information enabled us to reduce the size of the potential market by nearly a third, spending 100 percent of the available resources on only 66 percent of the dentists—thus more per high-probability prospects—and spending zero on low-probability prospects. We mailed initial information only to dentists 55 and older and only in certain geographic areas.

This information also led us to re-craft the message toward dentists 50 and older who worried they would lack the financial resources to retire as hoped. In addition, the message mentioned accumulation of up to $1 million in three to seven years outside the practice for on-time retirement, achieving what I call Message-Market Match. The result: His publishing business went from losses to huge profits, with well over $1 million in income over the next 24 months.

Years back, someone who had used my Magnetic Marketing System came to me with the bad news that it wasn’t working despite his having followed my models for his message and for the media. He owned a carpet cleaning company and had tried a direct-mail campaign to people living within a convenient radius of his offices. A drive through these neighborhoods at 5 p.m. easily revealed a problem: These neighborhoods were dominated by small, cheaply built houses on tiny lots bordered by chain-link fences; “beater” cars were parked in driveways. A subsequent phone survey revealed a high percentage of renters. They were unlikely prospects for his premium-priced, high-quality carpet cleaning services.

By relocating the same campaign to streets featuring nice homes with well-manicured lawns and late-model cars in the driveways—and being certain to mail only to homeowners, not “occupant”—I delivered a return on investment of $7 for every $1 spent on the marketing campaign.

As you can see, who you deliver a marketing message to can be at least as important as the message itself. This means you have to know as much as possible about your ideal customer.

Most marketers practice blind archery, wildly and randomly firing off as many arrows as they can, hoping a few hit any target. When you use fewer arrows precisely aimed at one carefully chosen target, you can cut the fat, waste and frustration out of your advertising and marketing.

Tap the Power of a Magnetic Message

You are fascinated with your thing—your gourmet pizza, your chiropractic care, your financial planning and products—but few share your fascination. Most people are most interested in themselves and their lives.

A majority of the previously mentioned dentists had little interest in a second business. In fact, it sounds odd and difficult, and requires sacrifice of time on the golf course or with family. But the 50-and-older dentists were very interested in a speedy solution to underfunded retirement.

Some homeowners buy furniture because they simply need a couch, and some get carpets cleaned only because they have filthy carpets. But most are interested in other things: having a more contemporary-appearing, more stylishly furnished, more beautiful home that impresses friends, or a healthier home environment for their new baby.

One client who sells mattresses priced at $4,000 to $35,000 (versus the national average price of $600) is not selling mattresses. The company sells a good night’s sleep, guaranteed, to chronic back pain sufferers or insomniacs or snorers with sleep apnea. So here are two rules:

Stop selling stuff. Most marketing messages are about product and price. Make yours about something more interesting to your target audience.And second:

Stop appearing as another salesman. Most people don’t trust salespeople and don’t trust themselves with salespeople, so anxiety and resistance rise even if they are interested in or seeking a given product or purpose.

The following are three key ingredients that make for a great marketing message.

1. Be unique. In this economy, there is little tolerance for ordinary. You must be unique. Gardner’s Mattress uses Demonstration Strategy: The company installed its Dream Room, modeled after a luxurious hotel suite, where a potential customer enjoys a four-hour nap on the mattress prescribed. The closing rate is 100 percent. Yes, 100 percent.

In my practice as a direct-response copywriter, I use Process Strategy: In an ocean of other writers, I never take assignments or discuss tasks with new clients. Instead I sell only one thing first: a day of diagnostic and prescriptive consulting, at a fee of $18,800, in which I uncover opportunity and build strategy and projects.

For its Proactiv acne treatment products, my client Guthy-Renker used Place Strategy. The company was the first to move this type of product from drugstore shelf to TV infomercial and built a business worth more than $800 million a year.

Tom Monaghan originally skyrocketed Domino’s Pizza from tiny shop to global empire with Guarantee Strategy. He did not promise the “best-tasting” or even “good” pizza, but focused on delivery in 30 minutes or less. That factor was the prime interest of working moms arriving home to hungry families and of the nearby dorms of college kids who’d smoked funny cigarettes, urgently needed carbs and were in no condition to fetch them.

A group of seven-figure income advisers that I’ve been coaching use Message-Market Match: They focus exclusively on retirees interested in creating income for life from accumulated assets, and they position themselves as experts with authored books, local radio programs, infomercials, targeted TV ads and “Evening With Author” workshops.

2. Offer information instead of pushing product or service. The core of a magnetic marketing message is information of profound interest to your target audience. My client Ben Glass III, a Virginia lawyer, advertises and promotes a dozen different consumer guidebooks, each linked to its own website, including Justice for the Bicyclist, The Motorcycle Accident Survival Guide and Robbery Without A Gun: Why Your Employer’s Long-Term Disability Policy May Fail You.

Financial adviser Isaac Wright is one of about 100 who follow a model devised by me and financial industry consultant Matt Zagula in promoting a consumer’s guide to finding the right adviser and his book How to Navigate Your Way to Secure Retirement: A Retiree’s Guide to Removing Roadblocks and Hazards While Gaining Confidence and Peace of Mind. My friend Joe Polish and I brought this approach to the mundane and oft-commoditized service of carpet cleaning, with free recorded messages to raise consumer awareness about allergens and germs in carpet that isn’t regularly cleaned.

In any business, you can differentiate by marketing information instead of products/services.

3. Market yourself as the go-to person. I recently visited four competing booths at a home show, each selling generators. I made it clear to all four I wanted to buy. They all bungled it. They buried me in technical information. They defaulted to cheapest price. I wanted to find a guy to trust with making the right decisions for me. This is what most people want in most product and service categories.

In my book No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent, I present an Income and Influence Pyramid. Behind it, this fact: The higher a person’s income, the more he is being paid for who he is (in the view of his target market), than for what he does or sells. This is why Diana Coutu of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria invests in world travel to compete successfully in pizza chef competitions and writes cookbooks and health books: It makes her a more interesting and important who, enabling her to sell large pizzas at $20 to $30 versus competitors’ $5 specials.

This is why a simple switch—from offering a “Free Workshop” to “An Evening With the Authors” in financial advisers’ ads—provided one client not only an increase in attendees but also improvement in their quality (average investable assets).

Right Message to Right Market via Right Media

Media provide ways we deliver magnetic-attraction-engineered messages. No medium is inherently better than another any more than a hammer is inherently superior or inferior to a surgical scalpel. Purpose makes one better than the other.

One key purpose is effectively communicating with your target prospects in the way they prefer and are most responsive to. That means setting aside your biases and preferences, peer pressure and superficial cost considerations in favor of simply what works best.

As an example, consider online vs. offline media. Many marketers have abandoned Yellow Pages for Google Places, yet certain target prospects—notably the 55-plus age consumer—still prefer referring to the Yellow Pages and go there first. Consequently, astute advertisers are staying put and even expanding their prominence in the Yellow Pages.

Or consider these facts about direct mail that will surprise many young businesspeople: The 2011 Epsilon Research Preference Study shows that, despite 66 percent growth in use of online social media, direct mail remains the No. 1 choice by consumers for receipt of information in many product categories, including health, travel and finance. Big shock: The 18-to-34 age group still prefers receiving information in these categories via mail. Twenty-six percent of consumers rank direct mail as more trustworthy than online media, and 50 percent report paying more attention to direct mail than email. Of all media, the least trusted is social media and blogs.

In business-to-business marketing, one of the most telling and ironic facts is that Google uses direct mail to sell its pay-per-click advertising.

The use of direct mail for marketing and sales purposes rose by 5.8 percent from 2010 to 2011.

The best media strategy is comprehensive, integrated and sequential. To be comprehensive, every medium that can be made to pay needs to be used—because diversity equals stability. Relying on too few media outlets, or on the cheapest, opens you to vulnerability. To be integrated, all types of media need to be used, and online and offline messages are fit together into an organized system for delivering magnetically attractive information. To be sequential, a prospect’s contact information is captured and then a series of follow-up communications occurs.

The principle is: Don’t yell out a product-price offer and hope some people come to buy it. Instead get interest and permission from prospects to communicate with them repeatedly and persistently.

Ultimate Goal: Predetermination

Wandering a Las Vegas auto museum, my wife and I came upon Dean Martin’s 1986 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible. I already owned three classic cars and had no need or garage space for another. But I am a huge Martin fan. Minutes later, I bought the car. I did not comparison-shop other Rolls-Royces of the same vintage; I had no interest in any others. I was predetermined to buy that particular car. So now you understand predetermination.

Today in Orlando, huge numbers of luxury houses are on sale at bargain prices but if you are predetermined to live in Disney’s ultra-luxury community, Golden Oak, you’ll pay full retail and top dollar. From the seller’s standpoint, predetermination makes competition irrelevant and supports price elasticity. This is the ultimate goal!

The purpose of all the strategies I’ve described here is to have new customers or clients coming to you, predetermined to do business with you, if they can and if you’ll accept them.

Read more from the marketing expert on Dan Kennedy's blog.


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