There are a number of stages we need to follow in order to truly understand our customers and therefore ‘speak their language’. Firstly, we need to understand who our target customer is. Sounds obvious right? You’d be surprised how few companies have identified their target customer groups (maybe 3-4 different types) and therefore can map their typical behaviours, challenges and needs of each group onto their product/service. If you do this as step one then you can start to produce sales and marketing messages that resonate with each group. Take me for example, as a business coach and mentor, 2 of my (3) customer personas are HR managers of mid-sized businesses and Owner/Managers of small businesses. Do you think they have the same needs when looking for a coach? No, they don’t. If I understand their specific and unique requirements then I can start to ‘talk their language’ when marketing to them.
Now you understand your client types you can start to map the journey they will take as they look to buy your solution and move through your sales funnel. What are the various stages they go through as the convert from contact to warm lead to prospect to hot prospect and finally customer (and then repeat customer)? And what can you do at each stage to ‘encourage ‘ them to move through this process? It will certainly be different messages at each stage; your communications will get more detailed and sophisticated the further they move through the funnel.
If not and you want to find out more, download my FREE ebook on developing your customer personas.
We all know that in many aspects of the marketing world, return on investment (ROI) is hard to measure and whilst it might win you business, it also helps you lose it (by not delivering or not being able to accurately measuring it).
A conversation about ROI is often linked to a purchase decision (i.e. if the client thinks they will get good ROI then they might buy from you).
We all try to quantify ROI if we can, which can be particularly challenging if we are selling something like PR. Yet is this the best way to get a client to buy? How do we connect emotion to this conversation? To be honest, we probably don’t!
We would be better served talking to the client about what their cost of inaction (COI) is because that’s where the emotional decision making will take place.
You see, if you are really selling something that cures a pain for a client (have a read of this blog on the subject) then you can also talk about the cost to their business if they take no action?
This discussion is much more real to your client and also laden with emotion. Thus it’s much more like to get the client moving and help them make the decision to buy from you.
Let’s take a moment to consider why. There are 2 main types of motivation that move us on in life:
ROI is a toward motivation (something I aspire to, that i wish to move towards)
COI is an away from motivation (I need to move away from my current situation because it’s painful, precarious and a risk to my business)
Can you see how COI conversations are much more likely to result in the client taking action NOW and purchasing your solution?
I fell foul of this in the early years of running my agency coaching business until I decided I needed to better understand my target customer. I spent time researching and talking with my target audience, developed my customer personas/avatars and consequently started developing content (including my website) from the customer’s perspective.
A key learning here is that if you really understand your client, it is much easier to address their pain with your solution.
So here are 3 things you can action today:
Once I had this understanding in place it become much easier to engage with my target market and resulted in higher win rates and increased revenues. So I find it strange that agencies typically only talk about ROI when selling, rather than COI (or both!).
What are your experiences with this? I would love to hear about your views in this area.
Yet in business, I see time and time again, agencies trying to sell their prospective clients a vitamin pill. This is not a good way to sell.
Imagine going to your best friend’s wedding and having too good a time and waking up with an almighty headache the next morning. Would you reach for a pain killer or take a vitamin pill? Well a pain killer of course!
Clients who are in pain have an urgent need to solve that pain (with your solution). Yet many agencies are trying to sell their prospective clients a vitamin pill (something that is nice to have but not urgent) rather than a pain killer!
So when you are marketing & selling your product or service, are you addressing the client’s pain or are you telling them your product is something that would be great to have in their business?
Getting this positioning wrong will have a massive impact on your agency.
A real bugbear of mine is that most websites make this mistake by starting out selling the vitamin (which looks like telling the client how great YOU are and what YOU do on your home page).
This could well be the case with your own website?
They are trying to sell the client something they may not be aware that they currently need (the vitamin pill) because although it might enhance their business, it doesn’t solve one of their major pains right now (the pain killer).
Let me give you a real example of this – something that happened to me last week. I got a cold call from a company that can track visitors to your website and give you detailed info on them.
Sounds great right?
The issue is that this isn’t one of my current pains. A current pain for me (regarding web traffic) is that I would like to get more traffic to my site. Only then would it be worth investing a monthly fee on visitor tracking software. Meanwhile that product is just a vitamin pill for me, so I am not going to buy it! The guy on the phone wasn’t really listening to me and just tried to tell that spending £500 / month on their software was a good investment. Not if it doesn’t solve one of my key pains!
They needed to better target by understanding who they were calling first.
If we start by identifying the client’s pain then we ‘stand in the client’s shoes’ and demonstrate we understand them (which builds empathy, a crucial part of the sales process). The language we use when we discuss our product or service will then be geared to show the client how we solve that pain rather than just discussing the features of our product (which we can do later).
So 3 things we can all do better in our agencies:
If we do this we are much more likely to build empathy with a client which will lead them to say ‘tell me more’ and then you have started a dialogue that can more easily lead to a sale.
When I get inbound new business calls (regarding potential coaching clients), I always like to enquire where they heard about me/found me. This is a prerequisite for any business that does any form of marketing (after all you need to do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t!).
So last week I met a new prospect (who has since become a client) to discuss helping their agency grow and develop a clearer market position. I asked where he heard about me and he had an interesting story to tell:
He runs a number of training courses focused on writing and content development. On one of his courses he shows an example of a bad website and an example of a good website. It turns out he has been using my website for some time as the good example (fortunately not the bad one!). And he kept thinking, I must give Da Costa Coaching a call at some point.
That point was this month because he has hit a brick wall in the development of his business and wants to move it forward and was interested to see how I could help him.
So that’s great isn’t it? – to get an endorsement and win a client at the same time. But what makes my website stand out (to the point that it is used as a good example of website writing)?
My bugbear about so many websites is that they are all about the company and show little understanding of their potential customers (except in a case study that is buried deeper in the site – where there is a good chance a new reader will never reach). Yet what you really need to do very quickly with website visitors is build empathy – show them you understand them and recognise the key challenges they face (that your product / service can solve). The typical website starts by saying “We do this and we do that and aren’t we great” but if you haven’t already built some empathy and credibility with the reader then they are likely to think “who cares!”
Websites should be about building awareness and credibility. The home page should demonstrate you understand who your target customer is and show you understand their challenges. This makes the reader want to learn more – which will probably lead them to click on the ‘about us’ page and find out who you are. Of course companies can only do this if they have an in-depth understanding of who their target customer is. And if you are thinking, “but we can sell to anyone” then you are likely to sell to no one! You need to “pin your colours to the mast” and focus your marketing on the specific market sectors, and this starts with your website.
If this resonates with you yet all sounds quite complex, then get in touch, give me a call and let’s have a chat.
I review a lot of websites that have a home page that tells the reader how amazing they are and what they do. After all you love to talk about your company and its products and services. Maybe you’re excited about a new product you have launched or a new market you can service. You’re selling your product or service, so that’s what you need to write about, right?
The truth is that nobody is interested in you, your company or your products – well not at least until you demonstrate some credibility. And this approach is rather an egocentric view of the world and a sure fire way of someone leaving your site pretty quickly (look at your Google Analytics to see your reader’s behaviours and how long they stay on your site).
In order to ENGAGE with your reader, you need to start by showing them you understand their market and their unique set of challenges. That way you leave them wanting to read more about you, thus clicking deeper into your site.
The old marketing approaches are still relevant today and particularly so to website copy design and structure:
Of course to achieve the above you need to really understand your market and how you fit in and then build your unique set of propositions. You also need to have a very clear understanding of your target customer(s). If you want some help with this then please get in touch. Also have a read of my whitepaper on market positioning.
A bug bear of mine is that so many websites are written from the perspective of the company rather than the customer. So for example, the format for a typical website is “We do this and we do that, click here to find out more”. This, like much marketing, is written from a company centric perspective yet it isn’t rocket science to realise that in order to keep the interest of the reader, all marketing should be client centric. If you buy into this then you will also understand that in order to be customer centric, you have to have detailed knowledge of your customers – and the latest term for this is Customer Personas.
Your customer personas describe your typical client and will probably cover 80% of your client base. If you get an understanding of who they are, their key challenges and drivers – then you bring them to life and will find it much easier when producing marketing or content to consider with whom you want to engage. Let’s take me, I have 3:
David (50 years old) the CEO of mid sized business (25-200 staff) – He is the driving force of the business with clear vision and ambition to grow the business. He doesn’t always communicate with the rest of the staff/management team that well. He isn’t always patient with staff and his ambitions sometimes leave rest of business behind and looks for external help around people and infrastructure.
Jane (40 years old) Owner/Manager of small business – Enjoys the rewards of working hard including eating out and nice holidays. Gets frustrated that her staff don’t always get it. Keen to delegate more but doesn’t have the right level of management team beneath her. Surrounds herself with a great external network of mentors, coaches and allies. Frustrated that the business takes one step forward and one step back so looks for external help.
Sarah (35 years old), HR Director/manager of mid sized business – Trying to deliver the people agenda for ambitious companies. Can sometimes be a lone voice when the business is moving too fast without considering the people/infrastructure. Turns to coaching to support the development of senior teams but also can be the person tasked with finding a coach.
When I am writing (including this blog), I first consider who I want to engage with (which will rarely be all 3) and then what their challenges are around the particular topic I am writing about. I can then consider the key words they might type into Google and so on. If you want to read more about this, download this whitepaper from my client, Southerly Communications. If you want some help with yours, then get in touch.
So whilst the term customer persona is relatively new, the ideas around it aren’t (and they are very sound). Is your business clear about your personas? Is your marketing communications company- or customer- focused?