Marketing that Really Works

by Lindsey Winsemius - Posted 2 weeks ago

We try a lot of different marketing strategies at ApogeeINVENT. If you’re signed up for our mailing list, you have probably noticed, as many of the emails we send out are about our experiences with marketing, and what works and what doesn’t work.

We aren’t a marketing agency. We have built several marketing software products and provide custom software development and design work. I write about marketing strategies to help our clients make the most of the systems we build for them. There is a fallacy in the software industry we discuss quite often. The “field of dreams” fallacy. “If we build it, they will come.”

If you’ve ever built a website or launched an online business, you know what I’m talking about. Just getting a new website, no matter how amazing it is, isn’t going to bring traffic. Innovative Apps, inspiring product displays, the best bonuses and compensation plans… we’ve built them all. But for most businesses, a good marketing strategy in addition to their brilliant concept is required for success.

That is why I try and record my experiences in marketing, and send the weekly marketing tips (you can sign up by filling out the pop up on our blog or on our contact page). 

The key to successful marketing isn’t just doing what everyone else is doing. What works for your competition isn’t necessarily going to work for you. You need to find what plays on your teams’ strengths, and how you can make a real connection with your audience.

The keys to a successful marketing strategy:


The world may seem like it is shrinking as we become more and more connected on a global level. But people still crave real connections. We need that sense of having a personal relationship, even in the digital world. 

A brand that can be real and authentic in its marketing will make a deeper connection with consumers. People still want to buy from people, not a brand.

Spend time giving your company a human face. Think of companies like Progressive, who have invested heavily in Flo the Insurance agent. Consumers feel more comfortable going online and purchasing from Flo, a familiar face. Other companies rely on the personal branding of executives to give the company the persona. Think of Steve Jobs from Apple. He became the face of the company, and people bought from Apple because Steve Jobs symbolized success and innovation, something they wanted a piece of.

Give your brand physical authenticity in a digital world by creating a persona and making connections on social media and email.

As a company, we try and share a little of ourselves on social media and through blogging and videos we create. This is particularly important because we don’t have a physical storefront, but do most of our interactions online and through conferencing. We want clients to know they’re not working just with Apogee, but they’re working with Joe, Dwight, Andrew, Lindsey, Jon, Frey, Crystal, Robyn, Kevin, and everyone else on our team.

Word of Mouth and Trust

Nothing sells better than good reviews. Testimonials. Social recommendations.

We get a lot of referrals from past customers or partner companies. Word-of-mouth is one of our biggest sources of new leads. Turning customers into fans is more than just coming up with great marketing concepts. It requires a great product/service you stand behind, and providing exemplary customer service. 

It all comes back to TRUST. Trust is a priceless commodity when it comes to digital mediums, and once it is lost, it is very difficult to earn it back.

Gaining the trust of potential customers can be tough. But just like people buy from people, people also trust other people more than your blog or your marketing materials.

That is why Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing have become such popular options for businesses.

Giving your customers a great experience is the first steps in turning customers into brand ambassadors. Make sure they have something to gush about, and then encourage them to share their good experience.

Some companies do this by email. They wait a few days after a purchase, and then request a review (You’ve probably seen this on Amazon.)

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews or testimonials from your customers. If they’ve had a good experience with your business, they’re likely to comply. At the very least, they won’t be upset that you’ve asked.

From time to time, we’ll offer a small gift card of their choice in exchange for leaving a review on one of the listing sites we use. Offer incentives to customers to leave a review. It is worth the cost to spread the word about your business and build up trust in potential customers seeing the reviews.

Authentic forms of marketing, like referral marketing, influencer marketing, and user-generated content are all important ways to connect with your audience.

Referral Marketing:

This is a broad concept that includes any kind of referrals to your business. Many businesses are learning to leverage the power of affiliate marketing, relying on the trust affiliates build to drive more sales for their business.

At ApogeeINVENT, we rely on referral marketing. I mentioned above how we offer gift cards in exchange for leaving reviews. We also offer monetary incentives to any contacts that refer us to their contacts and we make a sale from that referral. We only have to earn the trust of our contact, and they use the trust they’ve built with their contacts on our behalf. As long as we maintain that trust with our contact by taking good care of the referrals they send our way, this system is highly successful.

Influencer Marketing: 

This is very similar to referral marketing. Every industry has influencers; people who have built up trust with a large audience by blogging, streaming, being a successful entrepreneur, a celebrity figure, and so on. Businesses can leverage the trust already built by these influencers by acquiring their sponsorship of a product or service.

Find the right people in your industry that are already connected with the audience you want to reach and solicit their help in growing your brand. That could mean a partnership, sponsorship, or product placement on their blog / channel.

User-generated content: 

Reviews are one of the most common forms of user-generated content (UGC) that help companies get more leads or sell more products. 84% of people trust reviews as much as they trust friends, and 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. 

UGC also includes mentions on social media, which can be encouraged by creating memorable or interactive hashtags, encouraging social sharing after purchases, and other creative marketing strategies.

The more you can get people talking about your business in a positive way, the easier it will be to earn customers’ trust. 

Create a social media presence.

I’ve always struggled with this type of marketing most. To be honest, I don’t like social media. The least favorite part of my day is the time I’ve slotted for social media posting and engagement. But I know the potential value of having a social presence, and so I try to create a persona on our social sites that I feel comfortable maintaining.

We are a very diverse company, representing many different beliefs and backgrounds. I try to make our posts, and our overall persona, one that can represent all of us. However, some businesses, most notably Chick Fil A, do a great job in standing behind their personal beliefs and still being a positive place to work and patronize. 

As a business, you need to decide the persona that will best represent you to the world. There isn’t a right or wrong here. You need to be authentic, tell your story, and that will help you make a connection with your audience.

Your ultimate goal should be to connect on an emotional level with your audience through social media.

Understand your Audience

The key to making connections and gaining fans is first understanding who your target audience is.

Let’s say you’re selling women’s shoes. If you get hundreds of men flocking to your website, you probably won’t make many sales. Or if you’re selling business software, and your traffic is teenagers, that isn’t going to help your business.

Define your audience. Age, gender, interests. Then think about what kind of marketing will really connect with them. What is important to them? What social sites do they use?

Once you’ve defined your audience, think about creating a message that addresses their concerns or appeals to them on an emotional level.

Use Emotion to drive sales.

I’ve talked about this many times. People make purchasing decisions based on emotion. We might rationalize the decision afterward using logic, but all research points to us being emotional buyers. 

There are 6 key emotional responses that drive buying decisions. You've probably seen each of these in action, and perhaps not even realized it. 


People are more likely to make a purchase or buy from a brand if they feel that company is doing good. When price and quality are the same, the biggest determining factor in making a purchase is Social Purpose. We all want to make a difference, particularly if the risk and cost to ourselves is low. New studies have also suggested that people will change brands because they prefer to buy from companies that have shared values. Does your brand have a special cause you support, or believe strongly in making a difference? Share it with your customers – they care! 


Fear of loss is a powerful motivator. Fear of loss is the reasoning behind “limited time” offers. No one wants to lose out on a good deal. By creating scarcity or a time limit on products or services, you are giving your consumers a greater incentive to buy. 

Fear also causes bonding. In the absence of another person, consumers will feel more bonded to a brand when experiencing the emotion of fear.


No one wants to feel embarrassed. By reminding people of potential embarrassment, you can encourage them to see your product as the immediate solution to solve or avoid the embarrassing situation. Some commercials highlight women feeling embarrassed about body odor to sell deodorant, or facial hair to sell hair removers. 

Show your product or service as a solution to potential embarrassment to drive emotional buying.


We have insecurities – about our weight, our social status, our appearance… We make decisions to alleviate these uncomfortable feelings of insecurity. Women who are insecure about their weight might purchase a diet pill that highlights happy, active women. We might be motivated to buy a new car or a brand name product, like an iPhone, because we feel insecure about are status. 

Brands that show their products as the solution to insecurity – you’ll fit in if you buy this, you’ll feel beautiful if you buy this – are more likely to make a sale.


Making people feel happy with your content means it is more likely to be shared. Studies found that happiness is the main driver for social shares of content.  We want to share things that make us smile or laugh. By creating content that inspires joy, you are more likely to have users share that content and build your brand. 

Happiness is also a reason people make purchases. Ads that show how happy a product or service makes people will allow a consumer to visualize themselves feeling the same joy when buying from that brand. 


Who doesn't like a “buy one, get one free” sale? Or a purchase that will save us money, like gas-efficient car or a more productive machine for our business. By showing consumers how your product or service is going to save them money (and time), you are appealing to their "greedy" (I prefer to call it frugal) side. We all want to save money. Tell your consumers how you can help them save more or make more using your product / service.


There are so many different marketing techniques available to companies. Social, Search Engine, Paid Advertising, Email, Apps and Augmented Reality, Digital and Print... whatever types of marketing you choose, you'll find success if you remember these key concepts:

1. Be authentic. Build a company persona and stay true to it across all your marketing mediums.
2. Choose a marketing strategy that you and your team feel comfortable deploying. This will reinforce your company persona and ensure you're actively maintaining these strategies.
3. Focus on making emotional connections with your audience. Understand who your audience is, and build trust with them by leveraging referral marketing.

Don't do what everyone else is doing. Find the right marketing mix for your business, and just be yourself. Your audience will come to appreciate your unique style and you might attract more attention by doing it differently.

Have thoughts or questions about creating a marketing strategy? I'd love to hear them!