Many small businesses have a clear idea about what they are selling, but no idea who they are selling to and why. Of all the well-trodden pathways to failure in business, this one has the deepest grooves.
Of course, many of these businesses will claim, hand on heart, that they know very well what their prospective clients want – in the case of financial advice businesses, for instance, the untapped desire is for "world-class investment solutions".
Actually, no. That's not what your prospective clients want. In fact, it's hard to imagine anyone waking up in the morning and slapping themselves on the forehead while exclaiming: "I can't believe I forgot to buy a world-class investment solution!"
So it makes sense that, before you do any marketing, you listen to people. Hairdressers don't ask their customers whether they like hair products; they ask them how they like to relax on the weekends. Windsurfing? Hiking? Well, I guess hair products are off the menu and no-fuss cuts are in order.
If you're an an adviser, you don't talk about asset allocation strategies, you ask people what money means to them and what they wish most for their children. In other words, you're framing your proposition in terms of their life concerns, not what you have to sell.
How you find this stuff out comes through engagement. You can share perspectives via your website about issues that are not immediately related to your business. One insurance broker asked his clients and prospects about their best and worst holiday experiences. Tales of dodgy hotels and unreliable connections and attractions that looked nothing like the brochures turned into a discussion about insurance.
An interior designer ran a competition asking people to send in before-and-after photos of their home renovations. An accompanying survey asked them about their biggest regrets and what they were most glad they did. Many said the best thing they did was to stop trying to do it all themselves and to ask for help. Guess what happened next!
If your service is about solving people’s problems you need to have a clear idea of what the problem is. And the failure of so many marketing campaigns comes down to just that - solving a problem as you define it, not as how the customer sees it.
So do some research first. Surveys and competitions are a start. Joining social media groups around certain specialities can teach you a lot. A blog can get discussions going and lead to productive conversations.
Beyond there, you might consider calling in professionals and doing a competitor analysis. What are others doing? What succeeds? What doesn’t?
From that point, you can build a marketing strategy, one built around a real need not a vague idea of what you think people want.
Are you after ideas for how Regis Media can help you to communicate to your prospects and clients through your marketing? Find out more and get in touch with us via our website.