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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Price your message in context

At about the same time as I learned about aiming your content at your target audience, we looked for and bought another house and I learned another lesson from real estate agents.

In this case, the lesson was to understand your product specifically in the selling context.

First, the story… We found the house we wanted (and still happily live in) and decided to go for it at auction. The agents had shown disinterest in selling us the property (there was no way they would open it up outside of the allotted inspection times for instance) which is symptomatic of the whole situation.

We won the auction – yah!

The price was great – still a lot of money but cheaper than we would have expected. A house in the same block but on a main road and in bad condition sold for $500 more just a week earlier.

Signing the paperwork, it was obvious the owners and agents were very happy with the price as it was well above reserve.

Good to see a win-win for everyone.

Of course, the agents were less happy when they heard about the $500 more house near by. And were last seen driving towards it to see for themselves.

The point was that the owners had used non-local real estate agents who obviously thought our suburb was “lower” than the houses they usually sold so they devalued the property. They hadn’t done any research in the area so did not know the value of the land or comparisons with house styles in the area.

Our win but a valuable lesson – if selling, use someone who knows the product in the context of how it is being sold.

It’s like knowing you won’t get the same price for something at a school fete as you would in a craft shop in a tourist area.

Do some research to know your product, the context and what prices the market will accept.

Adjust your content to match, too – for example, ‘excellent value’ will work in many contexts, ‘exclusive touch of luxury’ will be out of place and ineffective at a school fete and ‘bargain bin’ does not inspire high prices.

Have you seen prices skewed because someone hasn’t understood the context or target market?

Understanding is important

Do you think there is a significant difference between understanding a task and being able to do it with skill?

I would never pretend to be able to write and design a PDS for example – I hire a professional designer for the design aspects of the job – but I understand many aspects of making it effective (such as using white space and images to make it appealing, avoiding ‘orphans and widows’, being consistent in fonts and headings, and adjusting things to work with page breaks and spreads).

Likewise, when dealing with an architect, I can state functional uses of a space and know that they will match function, materials, space, appearance and reality (i.e. not every idea is really feasible!) I understand the project and outcomes but leave the expert to draw up the plans.

understanding is joyous and uses our brains, whether for social media or not

Marketing and social media

A recent IBM study about marketing professionals showed that only 12% consider social media expertise as critical to their personal success in the next 3 to 5 years. Ross Dawson points out the concern with this figure – how can marketers maximise social media for the business they market if they don’t understand it?

I know I understand social media and its power much better since I started using it. I even remember wondering about the value of blogs and making time to read blogs – until I started this blog and realised it’s potential and how useful other blogs can be.

I think it is ok to get someone else to write your blog posts or monitor your mentions on social media. But understanding these media yourself is important. Why?

  1. if you understand, you can check the people you hire are doing their job
  2. if you understand, you can fill in if your expert is absent for a little while
  3. if you truly understand, you can find ideas and inspiration to maximise use of these media (for example, instead of just tweeting and reading tweets of those you follow, have you searched for leads on Twitter?)
  4. if you understand, you can integrate your brand and message throughout your business – including running campaigns across multiple media
What do you think – do you have to understand something before bringing in an expert to do the task for you? Should marketing people, in particular, understand social media?

Understanding your audience

Coming along the highway back from my recent business trip, we saw a series of signs for motels and food places encouraging people to turn off into the town. In amongst these signs was one that didn’t show a lot of understanding about knowing who they are communicating  with…

The fabulous Gundagai Pharmacy

All the other signs were aimed at travellers who could well need a break and/or some food so those services had the potential to attract people off the highway. But how many people doing along drive suddenly think “Oh yes, I must visit that pharmacy!”

Sure, the occasional driver will pass with a headache or other minor ailment and will want a pharmacy – even then, they will probably look for a pharmacy near something else that is worth stopping for.

I’m sure the pharmacy could have found a more effective (although perhaps less public) use of their marketing dollars. Or at least put something on their sign aimed at travellers.

This is a really simple example of how you need to understand the audience you are appealing to if you want a successful outcome. Sometimes exposure to a larger audience is tempting but a smaller, interested audience will generally bring in more clients.

Would you pull into a town because they claim to have a great pharmacy?