One of the most intense marketing challenges that exists, is effectively marketing products that no one wants. It is a frustrating, head-scratching, mentally exhausting proposition, and one that has ultimately made me a better marketer.
What do I mean by “a product that nobody wants”? There are many, if you think about it. Funeral services, for instance. That’s definitely a product that nobody wants.
My ever-evolving career seems to have settled on one such industry. For the past seven plus years, I have served in various marketing capacities for companies in the personal mobility and accessibility industry. I currently serve as Marketing Director for Centerspan Medical. We sell products such as stairlifts – which allow people to safely ride in a seat up the stairs; wheelchair ramps, vertical wheelchair lifts, and the like. Nobody ever wants to be in the position of needing these products; and even those who do need them, resist and avoid them, because of how they force them to confront their own physical limitations and mobility challenges. So how do you build a successful marketing strategy?
We can’t all market lifestyle products that make people feel this cool
We all can’t be marketers working in the fashion industry, entertainment, trendy brands, and the latest technology. These are products and brands that people strongly desire, and contribute to their lifestyle, image, and social status. Marketing products that nobody wants is more nuanced, requires a ton of patience, and a completely different strategy.
Here are the 5 keys to marketing products nobody wants:
1. Know who your audience is.
Chances are, within this particular marketing realm, the end users you are trying to reach are not necessarily the consumers you are talking to. Remember, the end user doesn’t want anything to do with this product. So chances are, it is a caretaker or someone who looks after the end user in some way that would be seeking the solution that you’re offering. It is important to tailor your marketing strategy and messaging with this in mind.
2. Use needs-based, not wants-based messaging.
Clearly, if you’re marketing a product nobody wants, then you’re marketing a needs-based product. It’s a product that nobody wants or even know that they need, until an event takes place that suddenly creates the need for it in their personal lives. So to use my industry as an example, it wouldn’t serve us well to create flashy ads that detail the “Hottest stairlifts of the season!”. That’s not a needs-based message. That’s a wasted message that seeks to instill some level of desirability upon a product that nobody truly desires. Something along the lines of, “We’ll be there when you need us” is a much more effective strategy.
3. Do not remind people of the plight they’re in to be in need of your product.
If you sell water, fire, and smoke restoration services, your target audience doesn’t need to be reminded that they just went through a catastrophic event that demanded a need for your product. Again, using my industry – we never announce one’s frailty or disability in our marketing. That’s a turn off. Instead, we focus on how empowering our products are for those who need them. Seniors who can’t climb stairs any longer, or those with physical disabilities know their limitations. They don’t need us to remind them and point it out. They need us to point to an effective solution.
4. Be there when the need arises.
Mass media can be effective, simply because you are literally reaching everybody, including those who have the immediate need for your product. However, the percentage of your target among the audience you’re addressing is miniscule. Your CPL (cost per lead) is going to be outrageous. So unless you have an enormous marketing budget to work with that allows for some experimentation and broad coverage, you will want to try and target only those who have the specific need you are addressing. This will be a much smaller audience, but hopefully, a much more effective and lead rich environment. What this consists of totally depends on the product that you’re selling. So there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In our business, we use very specific targeting metrics within our AdWords campaigns, seek out communities via social media that contain our target audience, and look for media vehicles that include those who are dealing with the needs that our products address.
5. Get a referral program. Now.
Still, after all of these years and advances in media saturation everywhere, word-of-mouth advertising is and will always be the best and most effective form of marketing there is. People simply take to heart the recommendations of their friends and family more seriously than anything they read or hear from a stranger. In order to foster this type of referral, offering some sort of incentive to your customer is crucial. If you keep your customers happy, and give them a good reason to sing your praises, they will. Plus, they’re in the trenches. They know when someone within their circle of influence is met with a need that your product addresses. Those of us in the world of selling products that nobody wants typically don’t have the luxury of repeat buyers. We sell needs-based products that people purchase and then move on with their lives. It is critical to turn those people into ambassadors for your brand and product.
These 5 things are really just the tip of the iceberg. Do you have other suggestions? Please share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!