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Following the Rules

Marketing lesson from Spongebob Squarepants

I want you to meet Tiny Tim. You might know him for singing songs on Spongebob and Insidious. He’s also fantastic at marketing.

Tim started as a regular singer, but his career didn’t take off until he started singing with style. He would get out of work, grab his ukulele, go outside and start playing old school pop songs in a falsetto voice. Most people thought he was crazy, but, through being remarkable, he built a following, eventually made it on TV, and now, a few years after his death, he’s a cult superstar.

You make the news
What kind of thing could you make that’s newsworthy? What project could you start that makes people want to talk about it? Hipsters are masters at this; they do everything for the story.

You'll probably never hear about it.

You’ll probably never hear it.

Does your company craft its product to appeal to the media? Do your products make people want to talk about them? If not, it’s time to refine your message and try again.

It’s not about the New York Times
If you wanted to target people who love photography, there are blogs for that, if you want moms who love cooking for three year olds, there are blogs for that, too. Everyone is reachable through small channels, but if you don’t have a specific target in mind, you won’t know which features to add to your site, which bloggers to feed your news stories to, which advertising platforms to use, or even what to say on your home page.

List potential customers
Once you have a hyper detailed target you can channel your messaging so it fits them. If your potential customers are art lovers, you can partner with galleries or give bonuses to artists who use your product. You can make your site the place for artists, and once artists love you, people who want to be artists will love you, then people with similar interests to artists will love you too. This will vastly increase your user base.

Think and make a list
List a bunch of different people: lawyers, bankers, moms, jewelry store owners, anyone who could possibly use your product.

Except clowns. Never sell to clowns.

Except clowns. Never sell to clowns.

Ask the right questions
Use any logical criteria you want to filter out users who won’t work. I use willingness to pay and ease of segmentation, but Internet usage and ability to pay are also good. Pick criteria that will help you see the business potential of each user.

Rank your targets, pick the best
Once you have that list, funnel each into an Excel document, lay out the two or three criteria and start crossing names off the list.

If you started with 100 potential targets, this exercise will give you ten or less that fit the criteria. Pick the one with the most gut appeal.

I'm going to pick clowns.

I’m going to pick clowns.

Test what you have
The next step is testing your idea. Take your site or mockups to people in your new target market. Get them to look at the page and give feedback. Get them to use the page. What do they like? What do they not like? What makes them leave?

Ask them non-product related questions at the same time; when they get up in the middle of the night, what do they worry about? What other products do they use? Use what you gather to change your site. Go back to your target market every week until they love what you sell.

That’s it
After you’ve done everything above, your product will finally be ready to sell. Now you can go crazy with marketing spending  because you know your target user will love your product.

You did it!

You did it!