One of the keys to creating a competitive advantage over your business competitors is to develop a strong marketing message. Some companies lose their way getting there. Some are inflexible, adhering to a concept or a theme that doesn't resonate, doesn't motivate or simply doesn't get attention. The message the committee developed last January in the seclusion of a meeting room may not be the one that will work today, in this economy, under today's circumstances. Change, evolution is a necessary part of the process.

Francis Ford Coppola, director of films such as Patton, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, said that producers create a picture three times. First they write it; then they shoot it; then they edit it.

Those changes can be very significant, changing the entire message of a story. Important films have often changed even the ending of the story.

The Grapes of Wrath, a 1940 film directed by John Ford and based on John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel,  switches the order of story sequences from the book so that the family ends up in a "good" camp provided by the government and events turn out relatively well. The ending of the book is far less optimistic.

In the film, The Natural, from the 1952 book by Bernard Malamud, Roy Hobbs is victorious and fulfilling his dreams of glory, hitting the game-winning, pennant-clinching homer. The novel shows a Hobbs who is crushed by his own hubris and must live as a forgotten man, striking out in his ultimate moment.

If filmmakers, the executives of arguably America's most successive industry, can change the message  of their film to accommodate their audience (clients), why shouldn't you?

Authorbob namar

One of the many traditions at Hope College in Michigan is a tug-of-war over the Black River between freshmen and sophomore teams called The Pull. For more than 100 years, classes have trained to go head-to-head in order have the rope go their way, and ultimately  make their opponents "all wet." How social media acts as a pull marketing effort.

There are many lessons to be learned in training and preparing for this contest perhaps most importantly that no individual "wins" this game. It is truly a team effort that requires precision, timing, and the collective repetition of simple yet strenuous tasks over and over again, fighting against exhaustion, distractions, and your inner voice often telling you to quit.

Marketing efforts, like social media, can challenge us the same way.

Social media is a pull marketing strategy. Unlike traditional marketing, social media isn’t supposed to push your services and company information at people hoping they will buy. Customers largely react negatively to that sort of bullying.

Pull marketing is where you use your muscle to provide valuable information to your potential clients that answers what they want to know (targeting their "pain points"). This gets their attention and helps build trust in you. It follows that they will come to you for help.

So what is the first step in a pull marketing strategy?

Content. Content is the key and if you don’t have great content, you probably won't be as successful as you hope.

How do you develop great content that will lead your customers to your products and services?

Provide value. You need to show your leads that you are expert in what they need help with. Give away some basic information for free. When they use this information and it works for them, they will come to you to help them.

So what is the purpose of social media?

Social media is about showing that you are an expert on a subject and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field. This will attract people to your brand. Because you are willing to offer value upfront, people will be drawn to your paid products and services when they are ready because they will remember that you helped them solve a pain point in the past.

Pulling is hard work.

Although simple in concept, "pulling" customers your way is a long and challenging road. You are competing with all your competitors who are pulling against you in the opposite direction. You are also pulling against the constraints of your customer's attention, time and trust.

But in the end, pulling customers your way is a wining strategy, worthy of the time and effort for just about every business.

Ready? HEAVE!

Authorbob namar