“You see, we don’t use pine wood for our toothpicks,” Charlie Hatchet explained to his customer. “We don’t want you to have to deal with sticky sap on your hands.” He smiled. “And you know how hard it is to wash off pine sap!”
Charlie shifted position and sneaked a glance at the sun through the leafy branches overhead. The afternoon was slipping by too fast. Four o’clock, he thought. And I was hoping to help the kits set up the new warehouse racks this afternoon.
Charlie wished this moose would hurry up and buy. He had already spent twenty minutes with this fellow, answering his questions about Moosepicks: Was the toothpick reusable? What was it made of? Was there a warranty? Were there different sizes so his children could use them? Why did it cost more than the toothpick Porky Pine had showed him this morning?
It seemed to Charlie that he spent at least half of his time every day answering questions. Not that he resented his customers. Of course not. But he did wish he could spend less time answering questions.
The thing was, Charlie could guess what each customer wanted to ask, even before the customer opened his mouth! Their questions were nearly always the same.
“Thanks for your time,” the moose said to Charlie. He turned to go. “I’m not sure I’m ready to spend that much money to keep my teeth clean. Not sure it’s worth it.”
Karl Skunk shares advice.
When Karl Skunk came up the trail the next morning and asked how things were going, Charlie told him that he felt frustrated about spending so much time educating customers.
“But showing customers personal attention is important,” Karl said, waving his tail for emphasis. “You want your customers to have questions so they come and talk with you. That is your best opportunity to sell them on Moosepicks. No one knows Moosepicks better than you, so you are the best person to answer their questions. That’s what I told Porky Pine the other week.”
In the lodge that evening, Charlie mentioned it to his wife. “Maybe I should hang an informational poster on the side of the warehouse,” he said. “Potential customers could look at it to find out what they want to know without wasting my time. But Karl Skunk says that I’ll lose a lot of sales if do that.”
Hannah Hatchet was sympathetic to her beaver husband’s plight. “Before you do that, let’s ask Fred Squirrel what he would do,” she suggested.
Fred Squirrel introduces Charlie to marketing messages.
“So you’re repeating the same information over and over?” Fred Squirrel asked Charlie the next day. “You should be giving forest folk that information before they come to buy, not while they are at your warehouse. You want them to come intending to purchase Moosepicks, not come just to find information.”
“You mean through advertising?” Charlie asked. He had always thought of advertising as trying to persuade moose to come to his warehouse. Why would he pay good money to answer a question before someone even asked?
“Advertising is getting your marketing messages out to prospective customers,” Fred Squirrel said. “And your marketing messages should provide information that answers their questions even before they ask the questions. Of course, at the same time you want to tell prospects about the benefits of using Moosepicks.”
Charlie told Fred Squirrel what Karl Skunk had said about the importance of personal contact with customers. “And he says that I’m a pretty good salesman,” Charlie added modestly.
“A personal relationship with customers has its place, but let’s look at this from your customers’ point of view,” Fred Squirrel said. “Do you think they prefer to spend twenty minutes talking with you, or would they rather stop by your warehouse, pick up the Moosepicks they want, and be on their way?”
Charlie was pretty sure Fred Squirrel was right. And in addition to a smoother, faster experience for his customers, he could see how a careful marketing strategy would save him a lot of time because customers would be educated, on their own time, before they ever showed up at his door.
It could even qualify prospects by ensuring that the time he did spend in answering questions would be with those moose who were most likely to buy. It was frustrating to spend a lot of time with someone only to have them walk away, like the moose yesterday who wasn’t sure Moosepicks was worth the money.
After discussing marketing strategy, Fred told Charlie that they needed to clarify the things a prospect needed to know in order to make a good buying decision. “There is a lot more to it than just product specifications. Creating effective messaging is like hiring a 24-hour salesman” Fred Squirrel said, chuckling. “A virtual salesman. Messaging can sell your product for you—anytime, anywhere.”
Fred Squirrel helps Charlie develop messaging points.
Fred Squirrel asked Charlie what the most common questions and objections were. Then they boiled it down to six key marketing messages:
- Moosepicks relieves tooth pain by removing objects stuck between teeth.
- Moosepicks results in healthier teeth for a lifetime by keeping teeth clean.
- Moosepicks makes a practical, appreciated gift.
- Moosepicks is easy to clean, made from high quality, sap-free non-stick wood. (“Hey! We could call it the No-Stick Pick!” Charlie joked.)
- Moosepicks is easy to use, with a stabilizing foot notch and flattened bottom.
- Moosepicks is the preferred toothpick for many respected moose. (Use Miles Moose endorsement.)
Once this step was completed, they knew they needed help communicating those messages to their target market in the forest.
Fred and Charlie went back to their graphic designer, Ricky Redcap, and two of his next nest neighbors, Clifford Crow and Cardinal Flash, who were all part of the Treetop Marketing Guild along with Fred Squirrel.
They hired the team to create combinations of words, photographs, and illustrations to clearly and quickly communicate each of the message points Fred and Charlie had identified.
Charlie’s team works on messaging development.
As the meeting began, Clifford Crow said, “I’ll write clear, compelling copy for your brochures and other marketing collateral based on these six messages.” He pulled a pencil from under his wing as if ready to go to work on Charlie’s project on the spot.
Cardinal Flash added, “I’ll supply attractive photographs that convey the benefits and the positive emotions associated with using Moosepicks, as well as photos of the product itself.”
And Ricky Redcap said, “And I’ll combine the copy and the photographs into a visual package that gets attention (like me!) and is easy to read.” The sound of his rat-a-tat-tat rang through the forest.
“What will be on the front of the brochure we plan to produce?” Charlie Hatchet said, as the meeting progressed. “I think a close-up shot of a Moosepick would be nice. You know, to highlight its careful handcrafting. Porky’s poor product doesn’t hold a candle to our styling, either.”
Fred, Ricky, Flash, and Clifford exchanged quick glances. Would Charlie stick to his own ideas, or would he be willing to trust their expertise?
Fred spoke first, since he knew Charlie best. “I don’t think moose are so much interested in the product itself as they are interested in what the product can do for them. But what do you say, Ricky?” He turned to the designer.
“I would agree with that,” Ricky said. “Just like you enjoy telling moose about the benefits of Moosepicks, the pictures we use should illustrate the benefits also. That will likely be more effective than showcasing the product itself.
Charlie liked the woodpecker’s suggestion to show a happy moose family on the front of the brochure, but he was downright amazed when Ricky showed him a preliminary proof of the brochure. The photos and styling captured the heart and soul of everything he had been trying to tell people about Moosepicks! The slogan “Happy Toothes, Happy Mooses” at the bottom kept ringing in his mind.
While the messaging development team pecked out the best approach to each message, Fred and Charlie spent several afternoons planning the avenues through which they could distribute the Moosepicks’ marketing messages. Next month we will listen in as Fred and Charlie hammer out a marketing plan.
But Charlie couldn’t wait to start getting his messages out there. He wrote out the message points on sheets of birch bark and sent one along with everyone who came by.
Charlie’s marketing messages go to work.
“I’d like to buy Moosepicks for my whole family,” said the mother moose. “I had heard about Moosepicks from my cousin, but I didn’t know much about them. Reading over your paper, I realized this was just what we needed to reduce our dental expenses”
Charlie was amazed. It had been two weeks since he had started spreading his crude handwritten marketing messages, and this mother moose was the third customer this week that had trotted up, asked a question or two, and then bought Moosepicks without hesitation.
Charlie was sure that all the effort he was putting into developing clear messages would be worth it. Why, he was already beginning to see a small return on his investment!
But would it really pay off in the long run? Read next month’s story to find out if Charlie can maintain his momentum or whether he falls into a marketing money pit.
Moral of the story
Your advertisements should communicate messages that fit into an overarching strategy of marketing communication for your brand. If Charlie would ask you these questions, what would you say?
- What are the reasons someone should do business with you?
- What makes your product or service different from or better than other options?
- How do you meet a need or solve a problem in a customer’s life?
- What objections might a prospect have regarding your product or service?
- How do your customers want to feel about owning and using your product?
Answer these questions and you will be on your way to having effective marketing messages.
Call on Rosewood to help you develop marketing messages that will bring in customers primed and ready to do business.