It doesn’t matter that you have a great service or product. It doesn’t even matter that your potential customer needs it. When it comes to your marketing campaign, your message must engage the customer so that they understand, in their way, why they need your product/service.
Here are some ways to get your message heard and spark the “need” factor:
- Tell your story in an engaging way. Make it colorful, different and memorable.
- Highlight the benefits that are important to your potential customer, not necessarily the things that are important to you. For instance, it’s great that your shoes are scuff-proof, but if I only care that they are comfortable tell me more about comfort. Stop trying to make me care about scuffs.
- Show the specific need you answer as well as the impact on their general wellness.
- Acknowledge your competition and highlight the differences. This one is tricky because you don’t want to speak negatively about your competitors, you only want to point out your uniqueness.
- Use a customer-friendly tone. Avoid big words, jargon and by all means, condescending stereotypical language.
- Use testimonials of current customers that are similar to your target audience.
Here are three personalities that should be in your circle:
The Optimist. We all need a cheerleader, the person that will tell us we can do anything and will point out the positive in any situation. The Optimist is perfect when you’re feeling down and need a pep talk.
The Analyst. This person knows a little about a lot of things and enjoys sharing the knowledge. (S)He has a practical way of reviewing facts and presents a solution based on numbers, not emotions. You may not get an instant response, because this process may take some time.
The Naysayer. You need someone that can see pitfalls and is open enough to tell you. When choosing a naysayer make sure (s)he has your best intentions at heart. If you feel their intentions are not good then by all means find another naysayer.
Vertical customers want an expert. They want to feel like you not only understand your product/service, but that you understand their industry.
Here are a few ways you can highlight your knowledge throughout the relationship, not just during the pitch:
- Include industry news in your communications (e-newsletters, emails, website, etc.).
- Offer commentary with solutions regarding current hot topics. For example, a mask manufacturer could discuss swine flu.
- Host a monthly (or weekly, quarterly, annually) seminar. Don’t exclusively highlight your company; instead mix up the agenda with speakers from other businesses.
BONUS: This is a great way to build relationships with companies that may be able to forward referrals.
- When discussing your business, use friendly language. Avoid jargon and big words as much as possible; they don’t say knowledgeable. It says you’re overcompensating or hiding something.
“Your best ideas are hidden behind logical thinking.” This is what I tell myself when I’m having mental block on a creative project. And here’s how I fight it.
I brainstorm for five minutes. Then I choose the most outlandish, unrealistic idea. Instead of focusing on why it can’t work, I think of the success I’ll have if it DOES work. Then I make a plan.
This encourages me to think differently, creatively, not so much logically. And when I’m finished I usually have a few nuggets that I can actually use. After all, it’s easier to reel in an idea if needed.
Here are three ways you benefit from talking to your customers regularly:
Things mentioned in casual conversation may spark a great value-add opportunity. This opportunity can be a service that you offer and your client forgot or never knew you provided. It can also be an opportunity for you to offer a referral. It may even highlight a new service that you could provide with little or no effort, but that may be a lifesaver for your customer.
Your conversations can serve as informal research. You can learn everything from true competitor pricing (not what’s posted on a website) to industry news (how it’s really affecting them) to stereotypes and/or urban legends that you may need to address.
You may learn of other places to reach your target market. For instance, regional events and hobbies are a great way to connect with your customers. Unfortunately it is difficult to figure out which regional events are worth a second look without some insider information. And you may never know that your customer loves bird-watching unless he mentions an upcoming trip in a conversation.
Your emails say a lot about you. And while we all can overlook a sporadic typo, ignoring email etiquette can not only damage your perception, it can land your email in the “deleted items” folder.
Here are two posts to get you on the right track. The first, How To Improve Your Email Etiquette, is from Marci Alboher, Working the New Economy’s Blog.
The second, Sending Emails That Get Read, is a post I wrote about a year and a half ago.
If members of your team consistently agree they either don’t want to voice their true opinion or everyone drank the same water and you need to shake up the group.
The purpose of a group is to bring together different people with varying perspectives in order to offer feedback and suggestions. Groupthink defeats that.
Here are some signs that your team suffers from groupthink:
There is no debate. No matter the issue, there are many possible outcomes. A group should weigh these outcomes. And how can they be weighed if there is no conflict? True analyzing, testing and evaluating require conflict.
Stereotypes are used as facts. Many times like-minded people treat stereotypes as facts, either because they don’t know better or it’s easier. If it is impossible to diversify your group (which I find hard to believe), at least have someone in your group do research on your target audience beforehand.
There is no Plan B. There should always be a contingency plan. If you have not discussed a contingency plan, chances are you have not discussed the many possible outcomes of your decision.
Here are some things that you can do to combat groupthink:
Have at least one person play devil’s advocate at each meeting. This will train people to look for the loopholes and not just take the information at face value. This will also provide a safe environment for dissension and erase concerns of being blackballed later.
Have the leader voice his/her opinion last. This gives people an opportunity to voice their opinion without fear of upsetting the leader. It also gives the leader an opportunity to hear many perspectives, which may sway his/her final perspective.
Distribute a copy of the agenda before the meeting and have members contribute their feedback anonymously. Have an unbiased party compile the feedback and use that as discussion points for the meeting.
The following is not an excuse; it just shows that life happens…
When we moved in September I gave myself until November to get settled. I figured two months would be enough time to unpack and establish a routine. Things didn’t work out that way. I spent the first two months training for my new gig, being the primary caregiver to the girls and trying to adjust to southern life as an adult. My husband was contractually obligated and couldn’t join us full-time until November.
So I moved that date from November to January (this was a more realistic goal anyway…) and said I would make no excuses. Well, I didn’t make an excuse, but I DID find out that I was expecting. And trust me, expecting another child is definitely a reason to alter plans. So I moved my timeline to May.
Well, I didn’t quite make that deadline either. For starters we were supposed to move into a house April 4th, but due to contractual issues, that date had to be pushed back to May 1rst. Then I had some unexpected family issues that were draining, both mentally and physically.
But now, it’s May 12th, and I’m back. Tweeting has filled the void a little, but it’s not the same as being able to write in more than 140 characters. I’ve missed blogging; I’ve missed the conversations.
I have a lot of topics on schedule, so now that I have a decent routine you should see new posts here at least once a week.
And since I’ve said that out loud that means I’ll have to follow through…