Silver Cloud II sales were spurred on by David Ogilvy’s classic slogan: ‘At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.’

The copywriter could not possibly have known this unless he’d spent time researching the marketplace, driving the car, and realising that quietness was a sign of quality to RR drivers.

I first learned the value of research when I was about 14 years old. I already knew I wanted to be a writer and I told my Mum. My Mum told my neighbour and she gave me entry forms for a writing competition run by her local church. The story had to be about Zaire, and she also gave me a copy of the National Geographic magazine featuring that country. I drew on the article to inspire people, places and details in my story and won first prize.

The more background information you glean, the more likely you are to succeed. So make sure your product or service is something that customers need. Research your market place, understand your competition and know your customers.

I offer a free 360-degree discussion to every new client covering everything about their product or service, everything about their customers and everything about their competitors. The more I know, the better I can make them stand out from the rest in a way their customers will understand and respond to. You need to do the same thing for your own business before you start marketing it.

Here are some of the common questions I ask:

– What do you sell?

– What problem does it solve or goal does it achieve?

– Who do you sell it to?

– Who else sells it?

– Why should your customers buy it from you and not someone else?

Top tip:

Do some industrial espionage! Get your competitors to send you their marketing information, and check out their websites. That tells you the standard terminology in your marketplace, inspires you with good ideas, and teaches you what to avoid.

If you do your research right, you can find out how to make your marketing stand out from your competitors, using the language your target market will understand, written in the way that compels future customers to choose you.

The copy needs to demonstrate the reasons why a client should choose your company. Not just talking about what you can do. But proving it with results, examples, case studies and testimonials.

Whichever channel(s) you choose, the copy and design should have a personality that matches the rest of the brand experience. There should be consistency between printed and on-screen communications, matched by the customer experience on the phone and in person. The product should live up to expectations.

Top tip:

You can’t sell luxury goods with a cheap and cheerful tone of voice (and vice versa).

This is an extract from my first book, the Little Fish Guide to DIY Marketing, as published in my Write Right newsletter for Fresh Business Thinking

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