Hip-hop dancers face a serious challenge when they battle:

Meet your opponent, enter the circle, and dance for the audience in a way that is original, fresh, and better than your challenger.

Guess what? Marketing isn’t that far off.

As a marketer, you’re probably charged with differentiating yourself against your competitors every day. And like a dancer’s battle circle, it’s a crowded space to compete in. If you don’t know how to hold your own, you could get lost and quickly become forgotten.

Use the following steps to guide yourself through producing stellar marketing materials – social media copy, banner ads, mail kits, whatever. And in the end, you’ll have a fridge-worthy deliverable that shines brighter than the competition’s.

Let’s begin.

Step 1: Scope out the competition.

You know the purpose, the subject, and the distribution channel (or channels) you want to target. Problem is, chances are someone has already had the same idea.

Time to give up?


How can you stand out against your competitors if you aren’t sure what they’re doing?

Take inventory of how your competitors address the same problem you plan to tackle with your own marketing. Note what does well, what falls flat, and what gaps of information exist for possible avenues to differentiate your efforts.

But above all, be thankful for the challenge your competition presents: It takes steel to sharpen steel. Making sure you’re the sharpest in the block requires a thorough understanding of what you’re up against, as well as a posture that better solves the issue that your marketing is addressing.

Step 2: Gauge your audience.

Imagine you’re a hip-hop dancer about to enter the battle circle. You scan the room, see the various faces watching, and begin to understand a crucial reality: The success of your performance depends on the reaction of your audience.

If it doesn’t resonate with the right people, it’s curtains for you.

The same goes for how you design your marketing.

Your target audience should influence nearly every element of the creation process, from diction, to channel distribution, and more.

This step will prove especially important throughout the entire process of measuring its success. The feedback you receive from your audience will inform future efforts, and ultimately help optimize your strategy against your competitors.

Just don’t forget: Your audience fuels your success.

Step 3: Discover the emotional core.

Once you know who your audience is, it’s time to dig even deeper into their needs and reservations.

“Discovering the emotional core” means holding your target audience’s pain points under a microscope and deconstructing them to their component parts.

Knowing what makes your audience tick and understanding their decision-making processes lays the groundwork for how you should frame your marketing. Only then will you be able to craft copy that strikes the appropriate emotional chord of your target consumer, speaking to them in ways that make immediate sense while addressing a concern or issue.

A social listening program is ideal to perform this level of research, but if you don’t have access to such a tool, use Twitter’s advanced search function to see what your audience is saying.

It’s not about illuminating problems that don’t exist; it’s about solving ones that do by adding value to your audience’s lives.

Step 4: Start writing. Then write again.

Ernest Hemingway said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” It’s a concept that applies just as well to writing copy as it does writing novels.

Here’s what he meant:

Writing isn’t a perfect science, nor will it ever be, but your first round of drafts should aim for quantity, not quality.

The editing process is where exceptional writing starts and where many of your competitors stop.

Here are some quick tips to help you during this crucial step:

– Use short sentences.

– Eliminate unnecessary adverbs by employing stronger verbs.

– Read your copy out loud. Correct any instances of awkward wording and/or pacing.

– Delete any word or sentence that does not add meaning to the greater whole.

– Ditch the passive voice, and replace it with the active voice. Don’t know the difference? Learn here.

Step 5: Get back to the lab.

So you’ve created a piece of marketing that shines brighter than the rest. You’ve published it, disseminated it, and analyzed the results.

If you’re standing by your mailbox waiting for that award, your competitors have already begun the process of one-upping you.

Hip-hop dancers have a two-word aphorism that outlines what it takes to succeed, and the same rings true for marketers: “Don’t sleep.”

Keep up on the latest industry trends and continue to push the boundaries of your craft. Check us out on Twitter @QuattroPhilly for a constant stream of industry knowledge to help you stand out among your competitors, and stay there.