Have you ever wondered why some businesses have all the badging, advertising and customer specials in the world within an empty shop and yet they are next to a competitor who has simple branding, higher prices with little spend on traditional advertising and are busting at the seams.
It may be that these businesses are so busy focused on their flashing lights that they are missing one of the most important factors that customers are looking for… trust in brand. In today’s market where customers are concerned about their budget and when they are being told they need to be concerned about the future, there seems to be a shift in spending habits. Customers are going back to simple honest value and service. They are wising up to the flashing lights and advertising slogans and are looking for companies they can trust…consistently.
As a business do you know why you do what you do? Is it just to make money, or is it something else? Some of the most successful businesses are driven by their desire to impact people lives for the better, to give them an experience they cannot get outside of their business, and they drive their marketing accordingly. One of the best published example of this is Apple computers. What makes them so successful when they are just one of many computer companies?
They drive their marketing in the reverse to many others. They tell you why they are here -it is because they want to make an impact in improving people’s lives through the use of useful technology. They tell you how they do it – through who they employ – “more passionate innovative people that believe in helping people through technology” and then they tell you the result of all this drive, commitment, passion and innovation…”The result is we make great computers.” They have driven their marketing through showing the customer (you) the experience you will get through them, and no one else.
What does this mean for the average business owner, do you need to start hugging your customers? Although in some businesses this may work, for many what it means is to get back to basics – what is it that you are trying to achieve and just as importantly who is it that you want to affect with that achievement. This will narrow your marketing/ customer group and ensure you are not overspending in areas of little return.
Ask yourself the following questions;
- Do I know what I want the profile of my customer to look like?
- How do I build clarity around my target customers?
- How can I build commitment of my brand from my customers?
Rather than just accept any old Harry that walks in and hope for the best, you should aim for who you want to interact with. This may seem obvious in some areas – for example if you are the owner of an adventure company you would probably not target your retirement home as the recipient of your latest campaign, (sorry old Harry I seem to be focused on you, but rest assured you are someone’s ideal target customer… just not this one.)
It is my experience for that large spends in areas of traditional media, produce very little in way of return. More importantly, it builds no future commitment from that customer group.
One of the first rules of sale is to look at your current customer – 20% of you current customers generally bring in 80% of your sales. Would you be better to take that traditional media spend and focus it into your 20%? These are your ideal customers; loyal, trusting, and the big kicker…interested in spending money with you already.
Do you know who this 20% are? How did they hear about you? Where do they hang out on social media? Do you know that Adventure Company should be focused on Instagram and twitter, whilst a fashion company aimed at the middle to upper class in regional Australia should have a brand ambassador with Pinterest? Do you know where your customer frequents? Who influences their decisions – health food stores?…make sure your aligned with Paleo Pete, Deliciously Ella and Sarah Wilson…if you don’t know who they are and you own a health food store – call me now!
It is only when we have our ideal customer built that we are able to effectively tell them about us and invite them into our marketing conversation. From this we can align our products to match their needs and help them address their concerns.
What is your USP (unique selling product) ? What is it that sets you apart from your competition? How does your USP addresses the current problems of your customer? Having a USP without identifying who it will help is a bit like setting a boat adrift without any navigational tools. Let’s look at a small travel company that finds its most frequent customers are retired in their seventies with three grandchildren and a fixed retirement income. This is just the first step in making a match between problem and USP.
Next we need to understand the problems that have brought previous customers to us. This knowledge will help you understand what motivates a person to see us above all others. This should give you insight to create marketing material that will attract more of those people and compel them to spend their money with you. So…our travel company finds they have their ideal customer profile, and previous customers have come to them as they had trouble finding a business that would cater trips with a detailed schedule and a slower pace. Finally! We seem to have a match for Old Harry!
Once you understand your customers and your products and their needs, you are ready to complete position marketing that is unique to you and your customers. It will create branding that your competitors can not match. This should be used through all material consistently at each point of your business so that your audience knows what to expect, this builds trust.
So let’s go back and look at that small café with all the razzle dazzle, and big media spends letting the vegan community 25km away know all about our meat and sweets shop, and compare it to the simply branded café with a media spend of zip, but regular posts on twitter and photos of their food on Instagram, and maybe even a free ticket to the latest traveling chef show, (but only if you tweet why you love our café). Combine this low cost marketing with a loyalty program, a commitment to consistency, a knowledge of what your customers love (go back to the tweet competition) and the faith in your product (including your ability to resist temptation to not undermine it with discount). You are on your way to a brand, rather than just a shop.