Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – four in a series)

Speak to Individual

My good friend Jeff Berman has agreed to contribute a series on marketing for startups to the Scratchpaper community. This is the fourth in the series (table of contents here). Stay tuned for more.

How to Botch Marketing #3:

Speak to the Industry, Not the Individual

People have problems. People have budgets.

If you’re selling something to a business audience, it’s easy to slip into thinking your market is the business (e.g., hospitals, schools, hotels; the list is endless). But businesses don’t make decisions. To get on the radar, you need to address the needs of a specific individual inside the organization.

Getting your message across means making it relevant to a person, not an industry.

This sounds obvious once you say it out loud, but different people inside the organization have different problems. So key steps in getting your thing moving would include:

  1. Identify the specific person inside the organization whose problem your thing solves.
  2. Check to be sure the problem is an important one. How can you tell? If there’s a budget attached to solving it, it’s imporant.
  3. Create a message that positions your thing as the solution to his problem.

The more relevant your message is to the specific pain of a specific person, the more likely you will attract his attention. Then you can tell him what makes your thing so great. But until he’s paying attention, you’re wasting your marketing time and dollars.

Before going into any details on what you’re selling, the first job of your marketing must be getting your prospects’ attention. That begins by understanding that his pain is specific to his job, and not his industry.

Jeff Berman is the founder and principal of Berman Creative, a creative agency focusing on brand strategy and marketing solutions for early-stage and redirected companies. You can reach Jeff at We’re grateful for his contribution. 

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