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Done well, marketing can eliminate the need to sell. In fact, no one likes to be sold anything, but they do love to buy.

Your marketing materials can do the job of selling if you focus on creating a set of materials that provide an education for the consumer—an education that compels them to buy.

Most business owners can't really articulate why someone should buy from them. In such circumstances, Copycat Marketing is at its worst: Lacking a compelling argument, many business owners attempt to fill brochures with nice soundbites or product descriptions. This type of marketing, typically housed in the tri-fold brochure, does little to help you stand out in a crowd, let alone educate.

Here are the steps to create a toolkit of marketing materials that are flexible, affordable, personal, practical, and, most importantly, educational. The very process used to create these materials will provide you with a valuable education as well. That simple process of documenting your organization's most compelling features can, in itself, help bring clarity to the real benefits your firm has to offer.

The Marketing Kit

My tool of choice for marketing materials is something I call a Marketing Kit, a collection of carefully crafted, individual pages of information that help you present the best possible case for why a prospect would buy from you. The kit format allows you to create personalized inserts, frequently changeable and updateable inserts, and inserts tailored to the specific needs of a prospect.

The term kit helps describe the interchangeability of the documents. The documents in the kit are assembled as needed in a carrier, such as a pocket folder, and then produced quite often in-house, on the increasingly affordable high-quality desktop printer.

There are instances where higher-quality, offset printing is called for, but for most small-quantity needs it is hard to beat the "on demand" nature of the marketing kit. You always benefit from presenting a professional image, but the content is the most important aspect of your educational marketing materials.

I suggest working with a graphic designer to create a custom pocket folder and then create a complimentary design for a template sheet to be used when you print your individual pages in-house. This way you get the benefit of offset color printing for your base sheet. Many people find that cost-effective design templates from firms such as StockLayouts (www.stocklayouts.com) can do the trick. This company features agency-quality pocket folder and template designs that are perfect for incorporating into your marketing kit creation.

Among other things, the marketing kit contents should include your case statement, your difference summary, your ideal client/customer description, your marketing story, and your offerings.

Your Case Statement

Over the course of the last 20 years, I have had occasion to work with several very large nonprofit agencies. One of the things that all nonprofit agencies must get good at to survive is asking for money. The standard tool used in fundraising is something called a case statement.

A case statement, as the names implies, is a document created to make the nonprofit's case to the donor—the answer to why anyone should give money.

When you think about it, there's not that much difference between the profit and nonprofit sectors. Almost every business is proposing that the prospect trade money for something of value. I have found the case statement to be a handy tool for cutting through the marketing hype and getting to the real reasons why a prospect should trade money for what your have to offer.

Your case statement should address the following:

  • A statement of a challenge, frustration, or problem that your target market experiences

  • An image of what life is like when the problem is solved

  • How they got here in the first place

  • A path for them to follow

Here's an example of a case statement for an expense auditing firm:

A Case For Waste

Money is a terrible thing to waste.

Do you know that there may be money hidden in your trash and energy bills?

For the most part your business runs very well. You attract clients and provide a product or service as promised. What you may not know is that your operation could be leaking profits from some very unexpected areas...  your trash disposal and energy consumption. It's a fact that profit comes from one of two places—increased revenue or decreased expenses. Successful firms rely on sales and marketing to increase profits and increasingly on industry experts to slash expenses.

But do you really know everywhere to look for hidden expense charges?

What if there was a way to know for sure that you were maximizing every dollar of your trash disposal and energy consumption costs? What if there were a firm that had the specialized expertise to look for ways to lower your costs and increase your efficiencies and what if the services of such a firm didn't cost you a dime? You would have to take a look, wouldn't you?

Maybe it seems easy enough, but our experience tells us differently.

Successful savings in the waste disposal and energy consumption business starts with an understanding of how these industries really work. There are firms out there today that might suggest that you can save money by switching your service to them. There are firms that act as brokers for large national services but, when you stop to think about it, is their motivation saving you money or getting your business?

We don't get paid until we perform

Saving our clients money is our only motivation and the primary way we get paid. Our consulting fee arrangement is based on receiving a share of the savings we create for our clients. With that mindset we had to develop a host of unique ways to save our clients money and help them recoup past overcharges. (A surprising percentage of our clients have been overcharged by vendors for years.) We are one of the only true waste and energy consulting firms in the country. Our consultants have years of experience in the waste and energy business and can analyze every aspect of your waste and energy expenses. We tailor our recommendations to your specific needs without any bias towards one service provider or another. Ask yourself, with this mindset what would you have to lose by contacting us to learn more?

Waste Stream Monitoring Has the Expertise and the Tools

Waste Stream Monitoring has been helping firms control and reduce their waste disposal and energy consumption costs since 1995. We have developed proprietary savings strategies and a nationwide service network along with cutting edge technologies and tools. If you would like to learn more about Waste Stream Monitoring or receive a free, no obligation evaluation of your waste and energy expenses, contact _____ at 913-831-4800, or visit the Waste Stream Monitoring on the web at www.WasteChek.com.

Your Difference Summary

Use this page in the kit to hit them with how you are different and shower them with benefits of doing business with you. Don't tell them what you do; focus on how you do it. Tell them about your unique approach, your processes, and the little things you do.

If you have studied your competition and you know what your target market craves, make a point to summarize your solution. I like to keep this one to the top three or four things that you do that your target market will value.

Your Ideal Client/Customer Description

People generally feel more comfortable working with companies that specialize in their unique industry, niche, or problem. Describe your ideal client. Describe why clients typically hire you—what's going on that makes them reach out to you. Describe the factors that seem to exist for your most successful engagements. Outline the results they typically enjoy when they engage your services.

By completing this description you will narrow your market in number, but make yourself substantially more attractive to someone who fits your ideal description.

Your Marketing Story

Many companies have interesting or even gut-wrenching histories. Tell them your story in an open, honest, and entertaining way, and you will win their hearts as well as their heads.

The marketing story is an effective tool because it allows you to do several things that traditional marketing or advertising does not:

  • Stories are an effective way to simplify a complicated issue.

  • Stories can create emotion. People buy on emotion and rationalize their decision with facts.

  • Stories are easier to remember because people can more readily relate to a story.

Most important... stories build trust. There are several very effective formats and devices for marketing stories:

  • Client: Stories that demonstrate to the reader through a client story the value of doing business with your firm

  • Who: Stories that allow the reader to connect with who you are or who the company is

  • What: Stories that communicate what your firm does in a way that gets at why it does it

  • Where: Stories that paint a picture of where your business is headed

  • Values: Stories that illustrate slogans like "we try harder"

  • Lessons learned: Shared lessons that expose the human side—both the good and the bad

Here's an example of a company story for a window cleaning business:

This is a tale of passion

I fell in love with window cleaning at an early age, but it is my mother who I credit with the success of my window cleaning business.

Faced with raising five children on her own, Mom determined that each of us would learn the necessary skills to survive in the world. I learned to cook, clean, and even sew by the time I went to elementary school. One of my favorite lessons involved sewing. Each of the children picked a material and pattern, learned to sew it together, and then, to assure we took the lesson seriously, each of us was required to wear the new outfit to school for one entire day.

Cooking around the Noon household was a rather simple and orderly affair. If stew came out of mom's large Army pot on Sunday then you knew what you were eating the rest of the week. For breakfast she would cook oatmeal, always oatmeal. Now she did possess a bit of marketing knack, for each day she would use a food coloring to present us with a different color of oatmeal.

Growing up I didn't mind the chores so much, but I was never able to master the art of dishwashing, so I did a great deal of chore trading. What I learned was that I loved to clean windows and that my brothers and sister did not. So, I always washed the windows in our home and people said we had the brightest shiniest windows in all of town.

Now what they didn't always know was that mom had developed a special concoction of window and glass cleaner. Her secret formula, as I now call it, is what helped me launch Noonshine Window Cleaning Service just over ten years ago.

While we've grown to be quite a force in the glass cleaning business, that secret formula, the one that keeps our customers singing our praises, has never changed. In fact, we got so many requests for our window cleaner that we decided to bottle it up and make it available to the entire world. And that's what you are holding in your hand right now.

Noonshine Window and Glass Cleaning Formula is an environmentally friendly glass cleaning wonder that leaves windows, shower doors, mirrors, chandeliers, and other surfaces shiny. While other glass cleaners leave a film on your glass ours never will.

So now you know why I say, "your pane is my passion."

Bill Noon

Your Product/Service Offerings

This page should outline the various services, products and packages that you have available. Clearly describe and detail the benefits of each.

Case Studies

Pick representative clients or industries, then outline how your product or service solved someone else's challenge. Case studies allow the reader to see themselves getting relief. An effective case study format states the following:

  • The situation
  • The problem
  • Your solution
  • The result

Case studies are even more powerful when they contain photos of your client, project, or solution, accompanied by a testimonial quote from the client. Over time, you can collect more and more of these and draw on the ones that fit an industry or problem that is relevant to your prospect.

Involving Your Clients in Telling the Story

Case studies have long been recognized as an effective way to offer proof that your product or service does what you say it does. The idea behind this tool is that a prospect can read how you helped someone just like them and come to the conclusion that you can repeat that performance. The only problem, though, is that most case studies I come across don't really do much—it's like people know that they should have them but they really don't know how to create them.

Here's my advice. If you want to write a really good case study—involve your client in the creation of it. My method is to actually set up an interview with a client, with the communicated intent of getting their help in the creation of their story. (Oh, and in case you didn't jump to this conclusion yet, this is great way to resell them on being your client.)

There are many ways to structure a good case study... but, at the very least, I like my clients to answer these four questions:

  1. What solution were you seeking when you hired us?

  2. What did/do we provide that you value the most?

  3. What has been the result of working with us?

  4. What would you tell others who are considering hiring us?

Now, package those answers up into a one-page document and move on to about 10 more clients for the same. This tool may become your greatest marketing weapon in a world of prospects looking for an authentic marketing story to latch on to.

It should be no surprise that the actual users of your services are better prepared to offer great marketing copy for other prospective users, but few business marketers take advantage of this resource.

Testimonial Proof

Third-party endorsements are another way to add proof that you do indeed deliver as promised. Collect quotes from real live clients and create a page titled "See What Others Have to Say About Us."

Try to get quotes that focus on the results you have helped them realize. These quotes can be some of the strongest selling tools you have. New technologies make it easy to create audio and video testimonials, too.

Here are some suggestions for acquiring powerful testimonials:

  • Craft some proposed testimonial copy and present it to your clients for approval.

  • Ask a prospect to obtain a testimonial from your clients (they will copy you).

  • Photograph your clients using your product or associating with your brand.

A Simple Way to Get Great Testimonials

The best time to get a testimonial is when you are standing face to face with a client and they tell you what a great job you have done for them. (Learn to pounce on this moment of truth.)

Here is a simple testimonial system that works every time. Purchase a two-column business card holder and ask your happy client to give you two business cards. Ask them to write a brief testimonial on the back of one card and then place one with the testimonial facing up and the other next to it.

Testimonial tip: When you ask a client to write a testimonial, ask them to write it as though they were recommending your business to a friend who was considering hiring you or buying from you. You will get a much more powerful tools then if they are writing it to you.

This little collection of cards will become your sales trophy case and will lend instant credibility to your claims. It is obvious that the testimonials are genuine because they are on the person's business card. This little trick also helps the client overcome procrastination, because they can complete the task while you are standing in front of them. Over time, you will build a very impressive showing of testimonials. (Obviously, you can transfer these quotes to Web sites and other marketing materials.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of your prospects will come to you with very specific questions. If you can address them in a succinct manor, you may not have to do much more. Start by going over the types of questions you receive from clients, sales prospects, and even emails.

Sometimes this can be a good place to start all of your marketing materials. After you answer some of the most persistent questions, go back and make sure that these answers run throughout your other pages as well.

Bill Caskey of Caskey Sales Training in Indianapolis, Indiana, gave me this tip. Create two sets of FAQs. One was the basic list of questions that clients asked and the other was questions he wished they would ask. He called the second page "Questions That Should Be Frequently Asked." He found that this page helped him teach his prospects things they didn't even know to ask.

Client List

Make a list of clients as a way to demonstrate who else trusts you.

Processes and Checklists

With this page you should show the reader how you do what you do. Create detailed checklists and flow charts that show your prospect how you keep your promise. In many cases, you have these anyway, but by making them part of your marketing you can demonstrate how much more professional your organization is.

Documented process description will help justify why you charge a premium for your services. Many people underestimate how much really goes into delivering a quality product or service—so show them.

Articles

Have you written articles for publications, newsletters, or internal distribution? Include reprints and press clippings that are relevant.

Something for Everyone

At this point you may be wondering if everyone will really read all of this. The simple answer is no. Some will pore over it, some will skim, and some will take solace in the fact that you have it. People learn in many different ways, and the job of the marketing kit is to address as many of those ways as possible.

Most prospects will need to know one or more of the following:

  • How you work—process, case statement, FAQ

  • Results you achieve—case studies, testimonials

  • Who you know—client list, case studies

  • What you know—process description, articles

Web Content That Educates

By the way, most of your marketing kit content is great content for your Web site as well, because your site can and should have the same educational tone.

One Way to Get All of This Done

Creating a marketing kit is a fairly large and important undertaking. Don't try to do it in one day. Create an outline for each page you intend to create and then just start working away.

You may also find it helpful to purchase a small digital recorder and start talking into it. Many people are better communicating by talking than by writing. You can always get someone to interview you on tape and then hire a copywriter to turn it into well-crafted written pages.

For each page...

  1. Create your outline.

  2. With outline in hand, pick a page and start writing.

  3. Don't edit, don't answer the phone, don't do anything but write.

  4. Once you complete this step, put it away and come back to it tomorrow.

  5. Go over your document again and rewrite and edit.

  6. Get someone else to edit and proofread.

  7. Consider getting feedback from several ideal clients.

  8. Move to the next page.

How to Use Your Marketing Kit

Marketing kits are not intended for mass, direct-mail campaigns. They are much more effective once you have generated a lead and want to proceed to fully educating the prospects.

Many of your competitors will not possess anything as complete as your kit, so you should use it to your advantage:

  • Mail it to leads prior to a sales call.

  • Use it to educate your referral sources.

  • Leave it behind after a sales call.

  • Produce it in a downloadable format to store on your Web site.

Thinking Beyond the Basic Kit Format

Victor Gonzalez of The Logic of Success in Alpharetta, Georgia, created an interactive marketing kit. As a speaker, he needed to get his message out. Instead of sending out your basic video demo like everyone else, he decided to take a different approach.

He collected mini-video clips, his reviews and testimonials from past speeches, his book The Logic of Success, and created a simple five-page Web site. He then took the Web site and used an AutoRun CD software package to create a CD-ROM that loads on startup and simulates a Web page off-line. All the links to articles, reviews, videos, etc. are active.

Next, he mailed out 1,200 in simple sleeve envelopes. His theory: If they won't come to his Web site, he would bring his Web site to them. The total cost was $3,200. He garnered 15 speaking engagements at an average of $2,500 (plus travel) per engagement. Great ROI!

Action Steps:

  1. Define the three or four key benefits that make your firm unique.

  2. Collect 10 testimonials from satisfied clients.

  3. Develop four case studies that demonstrate results that you or your products have delivered.

Note: This article is excerpted from Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing coach, blogger, and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide (Thomas Nelson Publishers). For more information, visit www.ducttapemarketing.com/book.htm.