marketing strategies

The Marketing Strategies That Make Marketing Work

Most marketing strategies DON’T work.

That’s NOT because the marketing strategies themselves don’t work. Rather, it’s because most people don’t know what it takes to get the strategies to work. More specifically, most business owners don’t know what makes marketing work. In other words, what do you need to include in your marketing strategies to make them effective.

Be honest…

If I asked you this simple question, what would you answer?

“Do you know what things you need to apply to make your marketing work?”

If you think about it, this is the KEY FUNDAMENTAL to growing any business. If you know what works, then you can rinse and repeat. Irrespective of the tactics or marketing strategies you’re using, if you know what makes them work, you will create a thriving business.

On the other hand, if you don’t know what makes marketing work, you’re on a slippery slope to underperforming and your business will struggle to reach the heights you desire.

This article is about once and for all stripping everything back to the foundations. If you know what the foundations of marketing are then every marketing strategy you launch will be successful.

Having worked with tens of thousands of businesses over the last 20+ years, I know very few business owners, marketing and advertising agencies, business coaches and consultants and digital marketing people know the answer to ‘what makes marketing work?’

The ‘Core Elements’ Make All Marketing Strategies Effective

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll have tried numerous marketing strategies and tactics. When they didn’t work, you concluded that that particular marketing strategy just doesn’t work (Google AdWords, magazine advertising, sales letters, Facebook Advertising, LinkedIn advertising, leaflets, your website… and so on). But you’re wrong. You created (or your agency created) an ineffective marketing strategy because it didn’t include what I call the ‘Core Elements’.

The Core Elements are the things that make marketing work. If you like, they are the MARKETING DNA.

There are 9 Core Elements: 5 Marketing Elements and 4 Sales Elements.

The Marketing Elements are…

  1. Target Market
  2. Differentiator
  3. Irresistible Offer
  4. Guarantee
  5. Social Proof

The Sales Elements are

  1. Headline
  2. Features and Benefits
  3. Reasons Why
  4. Call to Action

The diagram below shows how the Sales and Marketing Elements work together to produce highly successful sales and marketing strategies.

You use the Core Elements to TRANSFORM your existing AND new marketing strategies. They form the first part of 'The FORMULA' our revolutionary business building system (you can read more about The FORMULA here).

And here’s the thing…

The 9 Core Elements DO NOT cost a single penny to incorporate into your tactics and marketing strategies.

Think about that for a second.

No matter what sales and marketing strategies you’re using right now, you can transform their effectiveness WITHOUT spending a penny more.

If you grasp what I'm about to reveal, I promise, you'll never, ever struggle to grow your business, no matter where it is in its evolution (for more details, check out the Business Growth Roller-Coaster, which details the growth path most businesses take and why they STOP growing).

Before I reveal each Core Element I need to say right up front that you will have heard of most of them. It's so easy to dismiss them because you're already aware of them. But that's broken thinking. I can assure you that in my experience not 1 in 100,000 businesses are using these Core Elements in their marketing strategies. And those that do use one of more of them, are not using them to their maximum effect. HOW you apply them is crucial. So I urge you not o be dismissive of the incredible value i'm about to share with you.

Okay, so let me take you through the Core Elements...

Marketing Strategies Core Element 1: Target Market


Marketing Strategies - Target Market


I've travelled the world speaking in front of many audiences, large and small and one question I often get asked is this... "Steve if there was one thing... just one thing that you advise me to apply above all others to grow my business fast, what would it be?"

That's because people are often searching for the magic bullet and in reality it's a number of things you need to apply as you're discovering here. But if pressed I would always answer "get your target market right".

Without question, this is THE most important thing to apply to all your marketing strategies and tactics.

When you get this right your best types of prospects will be magnetically attracted to you.

Here's a simple example...

Let's say you've just started a new business.

You need an accountant, so you look in your local newspaper.

You see two small ads.

The first one reads...

Accountants For All Businesses

ABC Chartered Accountants. Tax preparation, auditing, bookkeeping, payroll services, help for start-ups, management accounts, and so on.

If you were a start-up business, this ad doesn't appeal - does it?

This is how most people do it. They try to reach everyone. Whilst instinctively it's only natural that people market like this, but this is the WORST thing you can do. By targeting everyone, you target no one. Your positioning is non-existent. You'll struggle to acquire high paying clients, customers or patients in the numbers you desire. And worse of all, your marketing strategies will never perform anywhere near what they could.

Now, compare the first ad to this ad...

Accountants For Start-Up Businesses

XYZ Chartered Accountants. Specialising in helping start-ups get their businesses running quickly, profitably and effectively

Now that ad is magnetic to the target market. Agreed?

And that's the difference.

When you go from 'mass appeal' to 'target market appeal' and communicate with the target market so they instantly know 'this is for them' then you've cracked it!


Choosing your target market(s) is the means to the end. It then enables you to tailor all the other Core Elements to the target market(s). That's when your results will go through the roof!

Marketing Strategies Core Element 2: Differentiator

marketing strategies - differentiator

Ask yourself this simple question...

"What do we do that sets us apart from the competition?"

The chances are that you can't answer that effectively.

...and if you can't... your prospects and clients, customers or patients haven't got a chance.

This is another BIG mistake most businesses make.

Think about it, and this is VERY IMPORTANT so read carefully...

If you don't differentiate yourself from your competition you give people NO reason to come and buy from you.

Worse still, if you or your competition are seen to be offering roughly the same product or service, the ONLY way someone can differentiate between you is on...


So by NOT differentiating, you are unwittingly opening up your business to price comparison and commodity type selling.

Is that what you want?

Of course not.

But it's what most people do.

If right now you suffer from price comparison then you almost certainly haven't differentiated your business sufficiently from the competition OR if you do have a differentiator, you're not communicating it effectively.

Remember, your differentiator should be aligned to your target market(s).

Marketing Strategies Core Element 3: Headline

Marketing Strategies - Headlines

THE most important element in all your sales and marketing strategies, is the HEADLINE.

The headline is 'the ad for the ad'.

In other words, if your headline doesn't grab the attention of your target market then you've lost them.

Seriously, in the history of marketing and growing businesses, nothing else has been tested more often.

Most people use the name of their business, their logo, a weak headline, or some meaningless image or images (especially on their website) as the headline.

I guarantee, if you too are doing this then you're missing out on results big time.

The image below is a good example.

Now I appreciate the Yellow Pages directory is dead, but I'm using a page out of my last local one, just to show you the 'norm' when it comes to headlines. I could have chosen any section or any media (websites, magazines, newspapers etc) but since these headlines are all on one page it's much easier to convey what i mean and easier for you to 'get it'.

Notice that in the 'Cooker & Stoves Repair & Spares section, none of the ads have appealing headlines...

Marketing Strategies - Headline examples

It doesn't matter what marketing strategies or tactics you're using, they all need a powerful headline that's aligned to your target market.

Marketing Strategies Core Element 4: Irresistible Offer

Marketing Strategies - Irresistible offer

That's a perfect image above to describe the importance of having an irresistible offer.

Notice there are two business owners, each trying to attract customers to them.

That is in reality what happens everyday for you and your business.

But it's far worse. Most likely, you're not competing with one other competitor... there could be several, dozens or even hundreds.

Now ALL the Core Elements I'm taking you through will help attract your target market to you, but perhaps the most important is your offer... or more specifically your 'IRRESISTIBLE OFFER'.

Once again most businesses don't have an offer, never mind an irresistible one!

Each of your marketing strategies MUST contain an irresistible offer.

...and remember, it needs to be focused on your target market(s).

Now what escapes most people, is that you need different irresisitible offers depending on where the prospect or customer is in your sales cycle.

For example, if we revert to The FORMULA (see here) you'll need an irresistible offer for the 'L' (Lead Generation), one for 'C' (Conversion) and several for 'M' (Maximising Customer Value).

So you can get your head around this, let's look at a general example...

Let's pretend you run an accounting firm. Here are the irresistible offers you could offer at each stage of The FORMULA (we'll use the above example and assume you're targeting start-ups)...


Irresistible Offer: FREE REPORT

The 7 Legal Tax Loopholes A Start-Up Can Use To Save £Thousands In Tax In The First 12 Months & Beyond

Comment: Notice the title of the report identified the target market and it's made irresistible by the content it's revealing.



Comment: On its own the 'free meeting' isn't irresistible. This is a big mistake people make when they offer a free consultation, free meeting, free audit or whatever. Your competition will also be offering a 'FREE whatever' therefore there's nothing irresistible about that.

So you make it irresistible by explaining what they'll get from the meeting. Why they should take the time to meet with you. Why you make it a no-brainer for them. Pack it full of benefits (see below). Give them bonuses just for meeting with you. Remember, 'irresistible' means you're making it impossible for them to refuse your offer.



Comment: The offer here depends on what you're selling next to the client/customer/patient. In this case i've used 'management accounts' as the service to sell next. The reality is that once you've acquired the client, customer or patient, they are so much easier to sell to, but you still need to work hard.


Do you see how your offers change as people progress through your sales cycle?

All you've got to think about now is what your irresistible offers are gonig to be...

...and remember the image above. make sure your offer magnetically attracts the lions share of customers, clients or patients away from your competition.

Marketing Strategies Core Element 5: Features & Benefits

Marketing Strategies - features and benefits

Yep good old features and benefits!

I know, I know, you know all about features and benefits.

But... and it's a big but...

In all likelihood you're using FEATURES rather than BENEFITS in your marketing strategies.

And its benefits that have the emotional appeal, whereas features are the logic.

We know that when people buy, they buy on emotion and then justify with logic.

So if you're only using features in your marketing strategies you're missing out on a slew of leads and sales.

As I said at the start of this article, it's easy to dismiss things you think you know.

Again, in my experience, very few people use benefits in their marketing (they think they do, but believe me they're not benefits, they're features).

By way of example, let's take a boring product. In fact, let's take a common office desk top hole punch.

Here are 4 if its main features (notice how little sales appeal they have)...

  1. Hole punch is made of hardened steel
  2. The base has a plastic cover
  3. The base is removable
  4. The punch has a plastic guide for your paper

Before looking below, write down what you'd say are the corresponding benefits.

Not as easy as it sounds is it? That's why so few people do it.

But remember, you only have to do it once and you're done.

So here's the corresponding benefits...

  1. Hole punch is made of hardened steel - It will last forever. You will never have to buy another one as long as you live.
  2. The base has a plastic cover - The base collects all the punched-out paper, which ensures your desk stays clean no matter how often the punch is used.
  3. The base is removable - Once the punch is full, you simply clip off the base and place the excess waste into your bin. Easy to empty and it leaves no mess.
  4. The punch has a plastic guide for your paper - Simply adjust the sturdy guide to the size of paper you want to punch. You get perfect results every time.

This is selling '101', but when you've worked with as many business owners as we have, you'll know very few use benefits in their marketing.

Again... that means you're also likely to be leaving money on the table too!

Marketing Strategies Core Element 6: Guarantee

Marketing Strategies - guarantee

A guarantee is what I call a 'sales converter'. It works at the point of purchase and it is an awesome way to get more sales.

It escapes many business owners that having a guarantee multiplies sales, yet they shy away from using one for fear of people taking advantage of them.

Now clearly you must NEVER guarantee anything you don't control, but there's so much you can guarantee in your business that you do control.

Think about it...

If you've ever 'fouled up' with a client, customer or patient (and if you say you haven't you're one in 10 million - we all make mistakes no matter how good we are) what do you do about it?

That's right... you put it right.

In reality, your guarantee is taking the fact that you put things right if you don't deliver on your promise and then using that as a powerful sales tool.

We use a simple 'Success Formula' for all our Core Elements and other tactics and strategies, and whilst normally they're kept locked behind closed doors for our clients, I'll give you the guarantee success formula. here it is...


It's the second part of the formula (penalise the business if promise not delivered) that multiplies sales.

In other words, don't just say 'Guaranteed Next Day Delivery'.

That's good, but this is so much better...

'Guaranteed Next Day Delivery or your money-back'

See the difference?

Marketing Strategies Core Element 7: Reasons Why


Okay, this is a quick one. Have you ever had the feeling that something is 'too good to be true'?

Well when you create an irresistible offer or an amazing guarantee (which you will if you follow my advice in this article) they naturally may seem like they're too good to be true (even though they are true!).

And if people think something is too good to be true, they are LESS likely to buy from you.

So rather than taking a risk, what we need to do is provide a mechanism that either significantly reduces or eliminates those thoughts from occurring.

We do that with 'REASONS WHY'.

Quite simply, all you do is provide the rational behind why you offer such an irresistible offer or an amazing guarantee.

Here's an example...

Let's say your an estate agent (realtor).

You create the following guarantee...

"If we don't sell your home within 12 weeks for the price we agree, we'll give you £500."

That's a powerful guarantee but some people may think it's too good to be true.

So we add reasons why...

Why Would We Offer This Guarantee?

It's quite simple really. We know how good we are at selling houses. In fact last year we sold 458 houses in the local area. However, you've never used us before, so you don't know how we work and why we're so successful at selling houses. So to put your mind at rest we decided to offer this guarantee

Okay, we could improve the copy, but by adding reasons why, we've significantly reduced the feeling of this is too good to be true!

Simple, but highly effective.

Marketing Strategies Core Element 8: Social Proof

Everyone, and I mean EVERYone is a sceptic on some level.

Some more than others. But we're all sceptics. Most of us have been 'burned' before. So we have an in-built fear factor that makes us cautious when buying products and services.

I've been talking about the importance of social proof (details in a second) for over 20 years, but it's even more critical now.

Think about your normal purchasing habits...

Let's say you're looking to book a hotel, or a restaurant or a holiday... what's your first step when looking?

That's right you check out the comments people leave on the likes of TripAdvisor etc.

This is social proof in its extreme...and the internet has made it far easier for people to buy based on proof!

If there are good comments left by customers, clients or patients, you're much more likely to buy from them - agreed?

Conversely, if there are a number of bad, poor or negative comments you're even more likely to pass them by - agreed?

What I'm talking about here though is using the good comments and other 'credibility builders' to provide so much evidence that you deliver on your promises that people are drawn to you.

Social proof credibility builders include...

  • Comments and testimonials from clients, customers or patients
  • Industry awards
  • Membership of associations
  • Case studies
  • Facts and figures
  • Etc.

All these credibility builders will do just that and ensure you generate more leads, convert more people into buyers and keep clients, customers or patients buying more often from you.

Marketing Strategies Core Element 9: Call To Action

This last Core Element is also a real weakness in most businesses marketing.

The 'CALL TO ACTION' is simply a statement at the end of your marketing piece (and often repeated more than once) telling the recipient what to do next.

It doesn't matter what marketing strategy you're using. EVERY one of them must have a call to action.

Just listing your web address or a phone number ISN'T a call to action.

You must tell people exactly what to do and what will happen once they take action.

You see, people are silently begging to be led.

You'll see a significant gain in results if you add a call to action to all your marketing strategies, and it's so easy to do.

As I said above, all you do is explain in simple terms what the person has to do and what will happen once they act.

It seems trivial to many people, but you'll be astonished with your results once you start adding a cal to action to all your marketing strategies.

In Summary...

You may not have realised it, but this is likely to be the first time ever that you have been told what makes marketing work.

The Core Elements will make an astronomical difference to your marketing strategies and the results they produce once you apply them.

For more detail, you can get my FORMULA book for free here, or register for my live FORMULA webinar here.

Before I finish, I'll reiterate again (just to make sure it doesn't escape you)...

it doesn't cost you a single penny more to transform your existing and new marketing strategies using the Core Elements.

You can significantly improve your results for ZERO extra cost.

Now that's something.


...and if you use an agency, business coach, consultant, or a digital marketing company to create any of your marketing strategies, make sure they're fully aware of these 9 Core Elements, otherwise your marketing will never reach its potential... and that means you're leaving money on the table and slowing down your growth. Worse still, it could prevent you from growing at all! Now there's no excuse.


Steve Hackney is a best-selling author, and renown business growth mentor, coach and consultant. Over 26,000 small and medium sized businesses are working with The Core Asset to quickly multiply their sales and profits, transforming their businesses and their lives.

About The Author

Steve Hackney

Steve Hackney is a best-selling author, and renown business growth mentor, coach and consultant. Over 26,000 small and medium sized businesses are working with The Core Asset to quickly multiply their sales and profits, transforming their businesses and their lives.