How To Ace Your Marketing Distribution Game

Capture the essence of your audience’s pain through marketing

Ace Your Marketing Distribution
Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

Do we have any Don Draper fans in the house? For those who don’t know, Don Draper was a charismatic character in a famous tv series called Mad Men.

Played by Jon Hamm, Donald Draper was the creative head at a mid-sized ad agency at Madison Avenue in New York City.

The show captured the lives of working men at Mad (short for Madison avenue) and reflected the narratives which built a connection between products and masses in the 1960s.

In those days, the distribution market was primarily print and television media. Brands could be felt and held in your hands like cigarettes, and marketing was geared around narratives.

Our ideas and avenues of marketing have changed. However, there’s one thing that’s hasn’t changed. It’s the desire to have a great product experience. Which, let’s face it, starts with how you market.

Don Draper’s character was wildly successful because he spent 80% of his time detailing the needs of his clients and the remaining 20% to strike personal conversations with them.

Now, you may not meet all your customers, but you can create a highly personalized experience that makes them feel valued.

And that’s the more important lesson to ace your marketing distribution game.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to:

  • Know where your target audience hangs out
  • Learn about the things which influence your prospect’s decision making
  • Convert these insights into campaign ideas to connect with your audience

In my previous article on achieving product-market fit, I wrote about defining your ideal customer profile and what information you need to understand their pain and motivations, as that’s what brings you closer to them.

Understand how your audience make buying decisions

Knowing how your customers make buying decisions, what influences their decision-making, and how they behave when presented with choices are insights into how to market to them.

To study your buyers’ behavior, start with the following three things:

  1. Spent time understanding how your buyer makes a decision.

Ask questions like:

  • Does the decision-making process solely depends on the buyer, or does it also involve other stakeholders?
  • What influences the position of the decision-maker? Chances are their peers, bosses, or friends play an indirect role.
  • What are the driving motivations of your buyer? Know their opinion and interest.

Some buyers are price-sensitive. They take pleasure when they get the better of the bargain, whereas others might be picky about the quality of the solution or compliance.

Know that no two buyers are the same. Everyone is unique in their way. However, you can tap into their internal motivations by understanding what makes them emotional about buying.

2. You need to know about the options available to your buyers in the market.

To understand their options, start by analyzing your competitors. Ask yourself:

  • Which of your competitors position themselves for a particular niche?
  • How are they marketing to various buyer segments? What content they’re creating to attract buyers.
  • Collect public reviews about your competitors and see where they falter. Learn about the strength and weaknesses.

When I was at Mettl, we positioned ourselves as an all-in-one solution for online assessments, as we had a solution to address any assessment challenge. However, some players in our industry positioned themselves as a singular solution.

Some businesses only sell psychometric assessment for hiring and HR transformation initiative, whereas others only catered to Technology hiring and training needs. For example, HackerRank positioned itself as the pioneer of coding and tech hiring assessments.

So, tapping into your buyer’s market awareness and understanding threats to sale will help you prepare better for a last-minute dogfight.

Create #attack and #defend battle cards on your competitors’ to shut them down even before they become a threat in a sales conversation with a prospect.

For example, say a buyer brings up the name of one of your competitors, and you know that this competitor has some negative public reviews related to robustness and is susceptible to bugs.

If you’re a collaboration software like Atlassian:

Ask your buyer — How important is it for their team to have project visibility at a central platform? Do you see it affecting your team’s productivity?

Such questions will help you passively shut down your competitor without taking any names.

3. To understand your buyer’s experience, you need to know how your buyers feel when they subscribe to services like yours.

Now, this one is hard as very few buyers will tell you about their sentiments on the problem they’re solving. So, you’ll have to pick hints from your body language or how they narrate their requirements to you.

  • If your buyer is guilty while sharing the problem, keep listening. As chances are, they kept this pain on a backburner for quite some time, and now it blew up. Such customers have a high intent of buying.
  • Ask yourself, is your product a good-to-have or a must-have for these buyers as your positioning depends on it.

How to position your brand in front of your buyers effectively?

Businesses underestimate the time they need to solve a problem and overestimate the skills required to solve it. So, it’s super essential for you to position yourself as a subject matter expert. You need to be the pioneers who define your industry.

So, it’s an opportunity for you to help solve an immediate problem for your buyer and protect them from a major challenge in the long run.

In a way, this makes you a pain killer and a vitamin that covers present illnesses and the deficiencies of tomorrow for your customers.

Combine insights of buyer aspirations, their behavior, and competitive intel to personalize your marketing message. These insights will help you hit the right chords while connecting with your buyers.

Getting closer to your audience through segmentation

Once you have used these learnings to draft a compelling campaign, your next challenge is to nail the distribution channels or places where you’ll connect with your audience. To understand where your audience hangs out, spend some time classifying them.

Start with breaking your audience into three segments:

  1. User or executioners: People who will directly be working/interacting with your product.
  2. Decision-makers: People who make the buying decision. In some cases, your users will also be decision-makers. However, even they follow a chain of feedback. Understand how the chain of commands works in their world.
  3. Influencers to decision-makers: People who are neither going to be the direct users or take the buying decision but have proper authority over the decision-maker.

Suppose the sales head is looking to onboard a sales training platform. In that case, the chances are that the director of marketing and the members of the revenue operation team become the influencers to their company’s decision-making process.

Blueprint to marketing distribution

To market effectively, you will need to pick themes and campaign ideas for each segment, respectively.

There are three ways to think about marketing distribution are:

  1. Places which you own directly

These are primarily your website, your email campaigns, your events, webinars, podcast, and social handles.

2. Places that your partners own

These could be marketing opportunities to collaborate with influencers and businesses that have the same target audience as you.

Get invited as a guest to their podcast, their webinars, speaking at their events, etc. Figure out a way to co-market each other’s products and deliver value to the audience with this collaboration.

When I set up the thought leadership function at Mettl, we started approaching HR leaders who were transformation pioneers in their domain. We connected with think tanks who spent over 15 years solving different HR challenges like learning and development, talent acquisition, employee attrition, etc.

We offered these HR leaders a platform to share their experience with the HR audience with the thought leadership initiative. The leaders got the chance to share their expertise and enable the team, the audience got lots of learning, and we got awareness and engagement — Win-Win-Win for everyone.

This initiative first scaled Mettl’s webinar series, then the thought leadership content series, and ultimately got so big that we started hosting large physical HR event series.

These event shows were live telecasted to thousands of HRs watching their screens back at the office like a live cricket match.

So, pick and collaborate with influencers, affiliates, and channel partners who have a sizable audience of your ideal customers.

3. Marketplaces, where both buyers and partners shop.

There are market places where your audience hangs out and shop. Like what Amazon is to consumers. Platforms like Appsumo, Sourceforge, Capterra, GetApp, Google cloud launcher, Amazon, and Azure marketplaces are all digital listings where you can list your tech businesses.

To summarize, you need to nail down your buyers’ day-to-day problems to solve your distribution problem.

Any avenue that offers a solution to your buyer’s problems is a potential place to market for you. Pick these places based on the quality of the solution they offer.

The quality of your partnerships will decide the number of prospects you attract. So, spend enough time getting this right for your marketing.

That’s all for today.

If you liked this article, then do share it with your friends and colleagues and connect with me on LinkedIn :)

Utkarsh works at the intersection of Sales, Marketing, and Product teams. He has spent the last 7 years helping SaaS startups to scale. Leads PMM @ Airmeet.