Often when we think of marketing, we go straight to marketing copy since this is the most common vehicle through which we target and reach our clients and customers. Rarely do we consciously think about what supports effective marketing efforts.
Just like the keystones that support the weight of massive cathedrals and help distribute tons of stress, effective marketing has five, critical keystones, They determine how strong our marketing efforts are and how we can use it to drive long-term business.
“Keystone: the wedge-shaped piece at the summit of an arch, regarded as holding the other pieces in place; something on which associated things depend.” Dictionary.com
Keystone 1: Consistency
Consistency means that our words and actions are in sync. We walk our talk and live our values by demonstrating integrity in everything we do and say, and in all our associations with others.
Both publicly and privately, we:
- Are responsible and accountable.
- Honor our word.
- Require others to honor their word.
- Do what is right and ethical.
- Behave in consistent and predictable ways.
When we are consistent, people see us as someone who is reliable and authentic.
Consistency also applies to our brand in all its manifestations across all media. Every message and each piece of content about our business must be in sync with all the others to create a virtual image of who we are and what we represent.
“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time.” Bruce Springsteen
Consistency is required for credibility.
Keystone 2: Credibility
When we are credible, people believe us, credit us with knowing our business, and pay attention to what we say.
We deepen credibility by demonstrating our expertise and by readily sharing our knowledge with others. The more we know about our business, the more we showcase it, stronger our credibility. We are more likely to be believed without being challenged or questioned.
Exaggeration or hyperbole are damning for our credibility since we must be able to back up our assertions with proof. If we make a mistake or misspeak, we must immediately apologize and take responsibility for correcting things. Once damaged, credibility is difficult to repair.
When credibility is high, effective marketing is easier.
“Credibility is a basic survival tool.” Rebecca Solnit
These two keystones lead to the third.
Keystone 3: Trust
“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” Stephen R. Covey
By being consistent and credible, we prove to others that we are trustworthy. Now, people are ready and willing to work with us, buy our products and services, and, most importantly, recommend us to their friends and colleagues.
We accomplish and maintain trust by:
- Always being transparent.
- Communicating honestly about our intentions and motives.
- Demonstrating loyalty and steadfastness.
- Being inclusive, open-minded. and tolerant.
- Showing genuine concern and empathy for others.
- Maintaining confidences and avoiding gossip and rumors.
- Refusing to play politics.
- Relying on facts and best practices.
- Delivering our best efforts for our clients and customers.
Trust supports much more than our business. When people trust us, I believe that this places an ethical responsibility on us as business people to do all in our power to be worthy of that trust.
If trust is ever broken, we may be able to repair it, but it will never again be as strong. Our ability to influence and persuade will be severely damaged.
These three keystones must be in place in order for us to influence customers and clients to buy our services and products. Consistency, credibility, and trust lead to influence where you can move people to change their behaviors and mindset.
Keystone 4: Influence
The term, “influencer,” is bandied around a lot today from teenagers on social media throwing massive parties in Hollywood mansions to experienced professionals with solid credentials to just about everything in-between.
We must decide what kind of influencer we want to become and create a strategy that supports and cultivates it.
Many young, social media influencers have garnered loyal followers that buy everything their idols recommend, wear, use, or are sponsored by. While our target audience may be much different from theirs, we can learn from them. They know how to market to their audience, and most do it well — until their reputation takes a hit.
The recent college scandals in the United States have shown how easy it is to irreparably damage the ability to influence. One after another of social media influencers were thrown down as the keystones — consistency, credibility, and trust — crumbled. When one falls, the others crack, and the entire structure comes crashing down.
The keystones must be maintained to stand strong for effective marketing.
“It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power, you have over other people’s lives.” Clint Eastwood
Keystone 5: Persuasion
The final keystone is persuasion. It’s where we can convince others to do business with us.
It’s possible to persuade without the other keystones; hucksters out for a quick buck do it all the time, and we have lots of examples of this today. Their success is quick, and they’re gone to start over somewhere else with another quickie scheme.
That’s not our goal. Our goal is long-term marketing and business success.
It relies on our ability to:
- Focus on the benefits we give our clients and customers, not the features or tactics we use to achieve them. People buy benefits and justify with features. For example, coaching is a feature; nailing a virtual job interview is a benefit.
- Consider and answer any questions potential customers and clients may have. FAQs are one of the best ways to do this and are popular with readers.
- Anticipate and answer any objections the audience may have, using statements and research from experts, facts and statistics, and specific, relevant examples.
- Use real case studies and testimonials to illustrate how we work with clients and the results we achieve.
- Tell stories that establish and showcase our credibility, grab attention, overcome objections, and create value.
“A statement is persuasive and credible either because it is directly self-evident or because it appears to be proved from other statements that are so.” Aristotle
How Strong Are Your 5 Keystones?
- How are you being consistent? Are there any areas where you are inconsistent? Does your social media feed align with your professional image? What needs to be cleaned up or deleted?
- How are you demonstrating credibility so that people believe what you say and see you as an expert? Are you using case studies and testimonials? Do you readily share information and answer questions? Are you staying current in your field, earning formal credentials, being published regularly?
- How are you nurturing the trust you have with others? Do you immediately rectify problems and address issues? Do you stand by your word and actions? Are you empathetic and compassionate? Do you always go above what your customers expect?
- How influential are you compared with your colleagues and competitors? Do you need to boost your social proof? Are you plugged into what your customers and clients want? Do they eagerly embrace what you recommend?
- How easy or hard is it to persuade others to your point of view? Do you have a hard time talking about yourself? Do you undervalue what you have to offer? Do you fail to think through a strategy that hits the right buttons?
Effective marketing drives your business. These five keystones carry the weight of your efforts and make the results you need easier to achieve and maintain.
Need to boost your self-confidence? Check out my e-course How to Improve Your Self-Confidence on GoHighbrow.com.