Rule #1: Consistency Beats Ability
Here’s a sad truth; over the long term, a company that is consistent with its marketing message is going to whip a competitor that is inconsistent with its message. Even though each inconsistent message may be compelling, creative, clever, or even superior!
Of course, if you can also manage to be compelling, creative, clever, and do it consistently, that’s the best of all worlds. But if you can only manage to be good all the time, let your competitor be occasionally excellent. You’ll still beat them.
Do this: Pick a good message, stick with it, and be consistent in all you do.
Rule #2: Perception is Reality
People rarely let the facts get in the way of their beliefs. In fact, humans are quite skilled at cherry-picking facts to support what they already believe to be true.
If you can influence your customers’ beliefs about you, leave all the rationalization work to them. Be ready with just enough facts to support their perception, but once they see you a certain way, it will take a major force of nature to pry them away from it. And facts have nothing to do with it.
Perception is what motivates behavior, not reality.
Do this: Control your customer’s perceptions, and reality will take care of itself.
Rule #3: Be Creative or Die
It was once said that, “Nobody ever bored their customers into buying their products.” This is the soul of effective marketing. You absolutely have to be creative to get through and to make your message sink in.
Creativity means entertainment. Remember that all marketing messages are interruptions. So if you interrupt someone, you’d better make it worth their while. So entertain. Use humor. Use pathos. Use intrigue. But don’t bore.
Boredom is death, at least for you.
Do this: Be entertaining with your marketing, or turn the lights out when you leave.
Rule #4: The Medium is Not the Message
If your message is strong, memorable, and entertaining, it doesn’t matter what medium you use to send it. It will find its own way. There is no single, magical medium that will make it go viral. The magic that does that is the message itself.
Revolutions have been―and are being―started by a powerful message; freedom and equality. Great brands have been launched and grown the same way, by a single resonant message. And it hasn’t mattered if the message came by a multi-million dollar TV campaign, by Twitter, by Facebook, or by word-of-mouth; the strong message always gets through. It finds a way.
Do this: Make sure your message is strong. The medium is the easy part.
Rule #5: Work Hard to Keep It Simple
Your marketing message should be simple. It should be something that could be described in a Tweet. It should be instantly understood and recognizable at high speed on a busy freeway, and summed up by every employee without hesitation. Complicated is forgettable, simple is memorable.
The irony, though, is that keeping your marketing simple is hard. It requires heroic self-discipline to keep it simple and to keep from junking it up with clauses, after-thoughts, and add-ons.
You can never take your eye off your marketing.
Do this: Make your marketing message simple. Now make it simpler. Repeat as necessary.
Rule #6: Give Love to Get Love
Success in business is ultimately reciprocal. It boils down to the simple maxim; if you love your customers, they’re more likely to love you back. And it goes without saying, of course, they’re more likely to want to buy from you.
But you can’t give lip service to love. You have to really love your customers. You do it in every detail of the way you run your business, from your advertising to the design of your products. Even to the way you treat your employees, and they pass that love on to your customers.
It’s as simple as that.
Do this: Love your customers. Love your employees. Love your products. And the love will come back to you.
Rule #7: Emotions Rule the World
Facts and figures will never motivate people like emotions. An emotional reaction to stimuli takes milliseconds, while conscious processing can take several minutes. The emotional reaction wins by a mile. By the time a person is thinking about their options, they’re already looking for reasons to back up what their heart has decided.
People buy emotionally and justify rationally.
Make them laugh. Scare them. Make them cry. Make them hungry. Make them envious. In fact, do anything besides put them to sleep and they’ll be in your complete control.
Do this: Use emotions to motivate people. Move them and they’ll move.
Rule #8: Go Big or Go Home
Great marketing messages aren’t magic spells. You can’t come up with the perfect, creative message, whisper it in the dark, and expect customers to start flocking to your website.
Marketing requires that you go all out. Don’t just talk to your existing customers, talk to customers you don’t have yet. Talk to everybody. Your employees, your suppliers, the press, your mom. All have to be able to repeat your message in their sleep. They should not be able to get it out of their heads.
Weak marketing gets you nothing. Strong marketing, using every ounce of effort, is unstoppable.
Do this: Everything you do for your marketing, do it full out. Do it like you mean it. Or don’t do it at all.
Rule #9: Everything is Marketing
Marketing isn’t something that’s done separately by your marketing department. Everything you do is marketing. It’s the manner in which you sell your product. It’s how you treat your employees and how, in turn, they treat your customers. It’s even how you design and make your products.
You can, for instance, to reduce the price, export your manufacturing overseas. But just realize that the perception you create by doing that also affects how people perceive your company, and that affects your marketing.
Nothing you do is immune from the impression you make.
Do this: Every business decision you make is a marketing decision. So decide carefully.
The 1/2 Rule: Know the Rules and Know When to Break Them
It’s sometimes right to break one of the Unbreakable Rules. But know what rule you are breaking and why. Whether it’s tactical, strategic, or you are ignoring it, make sure that the downside to breaking one of the other 9 is outweighed by the net upside to your overall marketing. And the upside is never because it’s just convenient. Or that it’s too hard.
You’d better have a good reason.
Do this: Know when to break the rules and why.