Marketing Appeals: Their Importance & How to Define Yours

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Guerrilla Marketing" by Jay Conrad Levinson. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is marketing appeal important? How do you define your brand’s marketing appeal?

According to marketing expert Jay Conrad Levinson, you should focus your marketing efforts on appealing to customers that already want what you have to offer. Levinson claims that you should then strive to create an ad campaign and positive interactions that target these specific customers.

Keep reading to learn how to define your marketing appeal, according to Levinson’s advice.

How to Appeal to Your Target Market

Bestselling author and marketing expert Jay Conrad Levinson says that, before defining your marketing appeal, you should thoroughly research your target market. After you’ve identified your target market, you should outline how you’ll appeal to these customers. This involves figuring out exactly how you’ll convince customers to choose you over your competitors. 

Levinson argues that customers don’t just rely on specific marketing campaigns to judge your business, but on every detail they perceive about your business. These details lie in both your deliberate attempts to influence them—such as your advertisements and your packaging design—and the way you unintentionally present your business—such as the way a tired employee interacts with other customers on a busy day.

Since every choice you make impacts customer perception, Levinson argues that you should attempt to become more intentional about the way customers perceive your business. You can achieve greater marketing appeal by:

  1. Defining how you want customers to perceive your business
  2. Aligning every business decision to support this perception

For example, you want customers to perceive your business as a luxury brand. You support this perception by creating distinctive, high-quality marketing materials and establishing a stylish dress code for all business representatives.

Let’s explore how to influence customer perception in more detail.

Define How You Want Customers to Perceive You

Levinson suggests that you should answer two questions to define how you’ll appeal to your target market. 

1) What’s your brand’s identity? Write down how you want your target market to perceive your business and what you can do to appeal to this perception. For example, because your target market cares about the environment, you want them to perceive your business as environmentally friendly. Emphasizing the contributions your business makes to environmental charities will promote this perception.

(Shortform note: Marketing professor Byron Sharp (How Brands Grow) argues that the majority of customers don’t care enough about branding for it to impact their purchasing decisions. This is due to over-saturated markets: There are simply too many brands trying to distinguish themselves and appeal to customers. To cope with this influx of information, customers completely filter out all of the brand messaging they encounter. So, even if you design your brand to appeal to your target market and garner positive publicity, it’s more than likely that your message won’t get past your audience’s mental filter.)

2) What specific benefits do you offer? Write down how your business, product, or service is better than what’s already on the market. For example, your business provides a more comprehensive after-sales service than your competitors, or your product includes more up-to-date features than other similarly-priced variations in the market. (Consider how Walmart’s original slogan “Always Low Prices,” instantly conveyed why they were better than the competition—thus appealing to money-conscious customers.) 

(Shortform note: William M. Luther (The Marketing Plan) clarifies how to define what makes your business better than the competition. He explains that there are only four ways to outdo competitors: 1) Provide a better product or service—by investing in operations such as manufacturing and quality control; 2) Pretend to provide a better product or service—by investing in effective marketing strategies to make your product appear more valuable; 3) Provide a cheaper product or service—by increasing efficiency and cutting costs while maintaining quality; and 4) Provide better customer service—by adopting policies that promote customer loyalty and repeat sales.)

Once you’ve defined what makes your business and your product or service appealing, include these points in all your marketing materials—both online and offline. (Shortform note: Marketing experts suggest that in addition to using the same marketing message, you should use the same logo, colors, and fonts to create a consistent brand image.)

Levinson argues that this approach to marketing appeals offers two benefits. First, it helps customers immediately understand why they should choose your business over your competitors. Second, all your different marketing materials will convey a consistent message that reinforces your appeal.

(Shortform note: While reinforcing your marketing message makes it easier for your target market to understand why they should purchase from you, one drawback is that you’ll find it difficult to reposition or reframe the benefits you offer. This is something you’ll need to do if you intend to introduce your product or service into different markets or target different customer groups. For example, Coca-Cola’s distinctive marketing message worked against them when they attempted to open a wine business in 1977—customers were so used to perceiving them as a soft drink business that they couldn’t imagine them as a wine supplier.)

Marketing Appeals: Their Importance & How to Define Yours

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Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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