It’s Not What or Who You Know, It’s How Well You Know Them…
Marketing. All businesses need to do it. Few businesses do it well. The whole notion that you can pull together flashy websites, brochures and logos and you are set is a fantasy that is long gone. The key to effectively marketing to your audience really is understanding who they are, how they think and HOW they go about choosing your product or service. If you can figure those things out, then you have the beginning stages of a marketing plan. [Notice I said beginning…knowing those things isn’t a plan, it is data, there’s still a lot of work to do from there.]
Here are 3 Keys To Understanding Your Audience
1. It’s not about pain. If pain were truly a motivator, then people would have completely different lives and businesses. It is painful to lose customers but businesses do it all the time. It is painful to miss the mark in your sales goals, yet sales people do it all the time. It is painful to let go and hire people to do the work instead of taking it on yourself. You see, pain is not a motivator. Pain is a symptom. In marketing and sales you often hear people say “what is their pain? sell to that pain, solve that problem.” The truth is you have to know what triggers people to buy (and it isn’t pain) your products or services. Sometimes you are the only game in town. Sometimes it is the idea of what you do, not even the actual product or service you provide. Sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time. And sometimes a transaction happens because you prove you are credible, you understand their needs, can offer a fair price for the work completed and will continue to provide excellent service after the fact. I believe that we are shifting how we make decisions based upon our instant gratification society. What used to be about pain, and many researchers still believe is true is more about pleasure. Due to the overwhelming amount of choices people can make in a given day, I believe they are choosing those that make the ‘feel’ better about their decision, not just those that help them avoid pain. Key question for your product or service — How does it make your customers FEEL? If you can’t determine how it makes them feel, then you have figure that out. Here’s an interesting article with some valid points on psychological triggers.
2. Customers want to be courted, romanced, dated. Stop thinking like a one night stand. Since search is a key factor for consumers of just about everything, it is important to understand how prospects want to be treated before they are customers. It is equally important to know how to treat a customer once they have invested. Think about it…most relationships fail due to lack of communication and the same is true in business. Learn how to dance the delicate dance of providing information, being available at the right times and being present at the moment they are ready. Once they have committed, you have to treat them right. What’s your post transaction plan for support? Creating a customer touchpoint map and plan will help you balance out your sales pitch with your service provider roles. Learn how to come along side of your customer to become their advocate, their partner, be part of their tribe and you will not only strengthen that relationship, you may also get more referrals. Seth Godin talks about the notion of ‘tribe’ in this short article.
3. You have to learn to LOVE numbers. I remember when I first saw the movie The Matrix. I was lost in the possibility that the world really is a bunch of zeros and numbers. The truth is, in business, it is about the numbers. Every single action you perform in the quest for a customer and beyond should be evaluated. Evaluation isn’t enough, you then have to have an action plan for how to adapt your plan based upon those numbers. Did they open the email? Did they click anything in the email? Did they follow-up on the click in the email? Did that email lead to a transaction? There are a bazillion data points that business owners need to evaluate in order to fully execute a plan that will work and move in tandem with your audiences changing needs. Here’s a good article on market research.
Bottom line: this whole ‘marketing’ thing is going to take time, a lot of time. The behind the scenes work isn’t sexy but it is vitally important to the success of your business. Invest in the right people to help you gather the data, crunch the numbers and come up with an actionable plan that will lead you to the results you want. If you personally don’t have time to do this [or more importantly, don’t know how to do it] then get out of your own way and hire the right people.
Lisa Goodwin has helped businesses all over the U.S. build lasting brands by creating revenue focused marketing strategies, dynamic online environments and cohesive marketing plans. She is currently the CEO of Accelerated Marketing Services, a full service marketing firm based in San Diego, California.