Much that passes for marketing advice – get in tune with your customers’ likes and dislikes, address their un-met needs, build your brand equity – sounds overly esoteric and open-ended to an overworked small business owner or busy operations exec. Good advice, perhaps, but not very actionable.
Most companies, large and small, can quickly make their business more relevant and appealing to potential customers by addressing 3 areas:
1. Take an outsider’s look at the ways your customers can connect with you. Make sure you’re not discouraging customers before they even walk through your electronic or bricks-and-mortar door. Does your signage and website make it clear what your business offers, where to find you, when you’re open or closed? Are your phone and e-communications systems easy to use? How well do you respond to incoming calls and messages?
Remember – Every point of contact is an opportunity to impress – or to piss off – a potential customer. If an eager buyer can’t get in touch with you, more than likely, she’ll place her business with your competitor.
2. Are your sales and marketing efforts targeting the people whose decisions make or break your success? Who is most likely to enjoy the benefits of what you’re offering – whose problems can you solve – and who controls the checkbook from which you’ll be paid? Purchasing agents rarely identify the need for a new product or service, and IT directors rarely detect the business problem that begs a new software solution.
Figure out who suffers most acutely from the problem that your offering is designed to address, and enlist their support in convincing the decision makers of the value of your solution.
3. Learn the terminology and jargon that customers use when they talk about products and services like yours. Then, make sure that your sales presentations, your advertising, and your website focus on the issues that are especially important to the decision makers, in language that is most likely to resonate with them. Your customer’s warehouse manager wants to know how your new software will solve his inventory control problem, not how seamlessly it integrates with ERP systems.
Learn to speak your customers’ language instead of expecting them to adapt to yours.
How to do it? First, talk with the people who know your customers best – your sales people and, perhaps even more important, your customer service representatives and technical service experts.
Then, if you have any doubts about what you’re hearing, or how to make use of it, call a competent, objective consultant like Marketing Intelligence & Strategy Assoc