Finding that elusive marketing sweet spot

Published August 12, 2017 1:37 pm by Mark Hollingsworth
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For those lucky enough to have flushed a 7-iron to a tucked pin or taken a baseball deep, you’re familiar with the giddy satisfaction that accompanies connecting with the sweet spot, a buttery sensation that, for a moment at least, convinces us we’ve got this game all figured out.

Your marketing efforts have a sweet spot, too. No doubt you’ve seen the Venn diagram: left circle containing the wants and needs of your customer/prospect, the right listing your company’s expertise. And where the two intersect? That’s your sweet spot, the place you can truly add value, one from which to build your strategy and messaging.

While this sounds simple enough in theory, in practice the ability to square up the sweet spot is a bit more challenging, the strategy equivalent of making contact with that elusive, half-dollar-sized area on a clubface or bat. Why? Because we, as marketers, struggle (or refuse) to find what Joe Pulizzi, writing for the Content Marketing Institute, calls our “extreme area of possible authority.”

Be it pressure to please every internal interest or just not enough introspection, we tend to define what we have to offer clients and prospects—the right circle of the aforementioned Venn diagram—much, much too broadly. Thus, we present ourselves to the world as generalists, the kiss of death for impactful marketing. Notes Pulizzi, “Generalist content doesn’t cut through the clutter, and yet most of the content marketing examples we see are just that—general. In this case, it would be better not to create any content at all.”

In other words, by trying to be all things to all people, we become nothing to no one.

Therefore, it’s critical that marketers make hard—and sometimes unpopular (at least internally)—choices when pursuing the sweet spot. “The No. 1 thing that you can do,” states Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia, “…is decide what’s the one thing that you are better at than anything else … and you need to become the extreme version of that.”

But how do we chip away at our precious company/product offerings to reveal this “one thing?”

Pulizzi suggests some good old-fashioned brainstorming, starting with a list of what our organization brings to the table in terms of expertise and skill, followed by client/prospect pain points. Why this particular order? Because if we start with the latter, a natural default for marketers, we may find ourselves falling into the trap of trying to bend our strengths to fit; in essence, hammering a square peg into a round hole. It’s always better to “look at your own strengths first—where you have a unique story to tell,” suggests Pulizzi, “instead of identifying the customer pain points and then seeing if you have anything to offer.”

With brainstorming complete, it’s time to separate the proverbial chaff from the wheat—let’s remember, the essence of a sweet spot is pinpoint focus. Anything outside this tiny area of a clubface or bat is diluted in terms of power. So too in marketing. Which makes it critical to scratch from the list any expertise/skill items where your value-add isn’t completely unique in the marketplace, leaving only those where you’re, as Pulizzi put it, “off the charts.” The same goes for client/prospect pain points—eliminate what amount to nothing more than niggling concerns to highlight those few issues that truly affect livelihood.

While this is no easy exercise—hackles may be raised internally when it’s revealed what expertise and skills have been tossed aside in the service of complete focus—it’s absolutely critical. Because if you don’t make the tough decisions, Pulizzi asserts, “your content [will] never become specific or relevant enough to matter … to get attention … to build trust.”

With the resulting short lists in your back pocket, things get much easier. Simply overlap the expertise/skill with the pain points and—voilà—you’ve uncovered your “extreme area of possible authority.” That is, your marketing sweet spot, the gateway to strong brand positioning and subsequent marketing strategy and content.

And, suddenly, it’ll feel like you’ve got this game all figured out.