Five Steps to Creating a Powerful Marketing PieceMuch—if not most—marketing is wasted. Various studies put the number at anywhere from 40% to 60%. You can’t afford to waste time, money, and effort like that though. If you want to generate more sales, your marketing needs to be effective.

How can you make sure it is? With five simple questions: who, why, what, where, and when. Whatever kind of marketing you’re contemplating—be it a website, a radio commercial, a flyer, a YouTube video, a sales letter, a Google ad, a brochure, a social media contest—answer these five questions in detail to ensure its success.

1. Who is the audience?
Everything starts with your intended audience. Who are they? What do they read, watch, and listen to? Where do they go and when? What are their problems and goals? What do they want more of and less of? The more narrowly you can define your prospective customers, the more relevant a message you can craft. You’ll also know where to put that message for maximum exposure to those people.

2. Why should they care?
Whatever your medium, you only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your prospect. To do that, you need to open with something that will resonate with them. Which means your headline or opening needs to make a statement or pose a question that relates to something they care about. (Hint: Your company, product, or service ain’t something they care about.) Your headline or opening should address a problem they have or a goal they possess.

3. What is the message?
This is the bulk of your marketing piece. What do they need to know? How will buying your product or service impact them? How does it achieve the promised results? What makes your product or service better than your competition’s? What proof can you provide? Include as much information as the medium allows, always linking everything back to the benefit to the reader or viewer—because that’s what they care about most.

4. Where do they go to take the next step?
What’s the next step? Do they need to call you to schedule an appointment? Should they come down to your location? Click here to have someone contact them? Submit an entry on your Facebook page? A marketing piece without a call to action is virtually worthless. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. To improve compliance, make the step easy.

5. When should they take it?
Finally, tell your prospect when they should take action. Should they call now? Do they need to come to the store on certain days or certain hours? Is there a deadline? Be clear. Also, it’s essential that you overcome their natural inertia by giving them a reason to act when you want them to. It can be a promotion, a bonus, a limited supply, an event, or something else they gain by acting in the specified time frame or lose by failing to act.

Too many businesses waste their marketing budgets by sending the wrong message to the wrong people. Follow these five steps with every marketing effort you make and your business won’t be one of them.

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