Saturday, February 7, 2009

Marketing is Satisfying The Customer - Not Your Own Ego

I've had a couple discussions in the past 24 hours about customers and how best to satisfy them. And interestingly enough, Seth Godin wrote a short blog about it today as well.

Most business owners / Entrepreneurs out there are frustrated because sales are not as high as they want (or need) them to be. When I hear this, two of the first questions I ask them are:

1. What do your existing customers like about you - why do they choose you?
2. What are the needs / wants of the market you are trying to capture?

As I talked about the other day in my blog, Which comes first, the product or the marketing?, it's quite easy to fall into the mindset of "If I build it, they will come." This is the standard response - because the Entrepreneur thinks he has a great product. But nothing could be further from the truth. You can create the best product in your market, and still not be able to get any customers to come to you. That's because, except in very few cases, YOU ARE NOT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE! If you haven't asked them the questions, you won't really know the answers.

To find out what your target audience is looking for - what "needs" do they have that are currently unfulfilled, you must ask some questions (and obviously find out the answers). Who is your target audience? Who is it that you are either currently appealing to? Or who do you want to appeal to?

Once you know WHO your target market is (as specifically as you can narrow them down), you have to find out WHAT they are specifically looking for.

Let me give you an example on this one. If you are a carpet cleaner, you would think that your customers are looking for carpet cleaning. Makes sense right? WRONG! But, if you look through nearly all the carpet cleaning ads out there, most of them are selling carpet cleaning. Unfortunately, that's really not what most people want. What they really want is clean carpets!!! The difference may only seem like the reversal of two words - carpet and clean. But the meaning is completely different.

When you sell carpet cleaning, you are selling a process - a method. People don't really care about the method - what they want is the end result - clean carpets. They are willing to pay someone to provide them clean carpets - if you will assure them that is what they are doing. But they are less inclined to want to be sold "carpet cleaning" - because there is no implied guarantee that they are in fact getting clean carpets. See the difference?

How do you find out what it is that they need? As simple as it sounds, you ask them. Create a survey. Ask your current customers and as many potential customers (your target audience) as you can afford to ask. Find the answer, because believe it or not - YOUR BUSINESS' SUCCESS DEPENDS ON IT!

So, it comes down to, understanding what the customer wants and needs - answering the question, "What does my business and / or product have to be in the heart and minds of my customer in order for them to choose me over every other option that they have to spend their money on?" When you find this out and use the in your marketing message - then you will become the Entrepreneur that you set out to become when you started your business.

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