Updated: Dec 29, 2021
I bought my first guitar at age 42. Then I bought a second guitar at 43. I bought a third guitar at age 44. I decided to take lessons a year later. It was most definitely a ready, fire, aim situation. Please don't judge. Learning to play the guitar was always something that I wanted to do. But it took me 3 guitars and hundreds of hours of trying the "self-taught" method via YouTube to finally see a professional.
I can honestly say that getting lessons was the best decision I made when it comes to guitars and I'm finally confident to say that I'm not that bad. Not so sure buying the third guitar was a good decision at that time but getting lessons was definitely the right decision.
This is a marketing blog so here is where a marketing example comes in. My teacher, who has the patience of a saint, the talent of John Mayer, and the wit of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (kind of a serious guy), made a mistake that I see a lot of marketers make. Last week, he asked me if I wanted to play in the student recital.... he didn't emphasize the word "recital" but I heard it as if he said, "play in the student REEECCIIIITTTTALLLL". I thought about it for about a nano-second and the answer was "um, No". Asking me to play in a recital conjured up images of children, 5-8 years old, playing "Ode to Joy" on the piano in a room full of parents and grandparents. I'm middle-aged business professional who would trot out onto the stage with acoustic guitar #2 to play Bob Seger's "Night Moves". I would have felt like Billy Madison going back to school.
If he had said, "would you like to play in a showcase with some of my most improved students?", the answer would have been a resounding "YES". Calling it a concert might have been too strong of a word but was more of the truth. And almost all of his students are adults. He was actually inviting some of his better students to play in front of an audience for the first time to get comfortable playing in public. So what was the mistake that he made that a lot of marketers make? He didn't properly frame his value proposition for me to take action.
If my teacher had asked me to play in a showcase or concert, this is a completely different scene in my head. Now I'm surrounded by like individuals who have grown their talents to finally be able to play in public. The audience would be mostly family and friends, with tolerance knowing that we were all beginners but had just crossed the threshold into showing some real talent.
One word in value proposition can turn your prospect away with a dead sprint away from the action you wanted them to take. Need examples...
"New" Coke. My regular Coca-cola is not only just fine but I like it. Don't need a "new Coke."
Google "Glass". Too complicated and wrong type of brand extension. Google is primarily known as a search engine, not necessarily a wearable-technology company. Amazon's Alexa may have a better go at it.
Johnsonville's Sausage "Bacon". Both are great as stand-alones. Not sure why there is a need to combine the two and it will be interesting to see if this is around in a year.
Facebook's "Meta". Facebook is in the midst of a marketing blitz to promote their newly dubbed corporate parent name, Meta. The campaign is a lot of imagery without explanation and a one-word ending, "Meta". Early reports are less than stellar for the campaign.
McDonald's "McCafe'". Other than signs in the occasional McD's, not sure what this brand extension adds to their bottom line. The concept originated in the mid-1990s out of Australia. It was adopted worldwide in the early 2000s to compete with Starbucks. Millions have been spent on marketing and marketing materials but I haven't heard anyone, ever, say they were heading to McCafe' for their daily cup of coffee.
How can you avoid missing with your value proposition? Here are a few do's and dont's:
Look around you and see what is working with your customers and prospective customers. Speak to those things. Your target market will tell you what they respond to if you do a little research. Social media and Google Trends are great low-cost, or no-cost, tools to use to get a pulse on your customer base.
Don't fix it if it isn't broken. See the examples of "New" Coke. It was the number one beverage in the world when someone decided that it was time to kill it and go with a new taste. Sometimes we get interested in the latest fad and go in that direction without researching the need to do so first. Sticking to the core of why customers should buy from you is what you need to promote.
Don't over-complicate it. Speak to your audience on a 9th-grade reading level. Not that your audience isn't intelligent. They don't have time to digest a phrase like "increases your metabolism" when "gives you more energy" would sell better.
Hire professionals. Sometimes coming up with the right message is too time-consuming or tasking to do it in-house. Find a good outside resource and hire them. It's what we do with our investments, healthcare, and guitar lessons.
We hope that this was helpful and that you can use this as a guide to avoiding a marketing or messaging mistake. If you would like more help with marketing or messaging, reach out to us on our CONTACT page. We would be glad to connect with you offline.