The Three Steps That Will Get You There…
Tony is a very creative individual and is always coming up with great ideas that he’s sure others will grab a hold of. This time it’s an information Website/Portal targeted at individuals, especially men, in the retirement stage of their lives. All of this under the assumption that his target audience will just flock to his portal.
Tens of thousands were spent on research, Website development, finding and linking to the various information sources such as baseball and auto-racing information sites, health care and travel information and so on. Great content that Tony thought would be attractive to his target audience and in turn would gain a significant following and in time, lucrative sponsors.
The result at product launch and for months afterwards: Crickets! No one came, even though on the surface his looked like a great idea. Tony “hoped” that it would be popular but, had not done his basic market research. The product was based on his assumptions.
This example, which is real life although I used a fictitious name, serves to illustrate just how easy it is to miss connecting with your target market. The ones that you’d think would be your ideal customers. Let’s look at the inherent flaws in Tony’s “build it and they’ll come” strategy and the simple process that could have alleviated them.
The Build It and They’ll Come Strategy Is “Hope Marketing” at its Best
Because today it’s so easy to get something started on the Internet, we may take a “Build it and they’ll come” attitude. Many of us start out that way, especially if we think we have a “great idea” and are sure that “everyone” else will just love it too. This is hope marketing at its best! The build it and they’ll come approach works great in a movie.
For any marketing to be effective “what your customer is looking for” and “what you have to offer” need to connect. In marketing terms, “Your Customer Segment” and “Your Value Proposition” need to connect. A third component, “how to best reach them”, the Marketing Channels, were many bound for failure marketing efforts start, comes afterwards.
Missing this point is probably one of the most common mistakes made and often difficult to grasp. We get so focused on getting our product out into the marketplace, that we are blinded to the fact that we may be on the “hope marketing” track. Just because we like what we have, doesn’t mean everyone else will.
Let’s look at a better way. Addressing the questions within the following three critical components of a sound marketing strategy will get us on the right track.
1. Let’s start with The Value Proposition:
- Why are we doing this? This one gets our emotions engaged and will show up in our communications with our prospects and customers. I’m sure we’ve all encountered situations where the enthusiasm and message behind a product or service grabs us and we’re hooked. Witness Apple products and the experience at an Apple store. Wow! More frequently our experience is the opposite. Grump!
- What value is what I’m offering providing to my customers? What problem of theirs does our value proposition solve? Does it meet their needs? It’s important to get definitive here; the closer our value proposition is to a need to be fulfilled, the better the chances of success.
- How will my value proposition engage my customer emotionally? A frequently overlooked but critical question, because most buying decisions are made because the buyer’s emotions are engaged. Just love that pair of shoes and need to have them! Emotions rule and logic follows.
- What will my target audience be able to do now that they were not able to do before? This is a great question because we’re again pulling at the emotional strings.
- What is the range of choices I can offer? This may include a color or price options.
Ideally, our value proposition should engage and directly answer what our target customer is looking for.
2. OK, now for the second part of the equation, The Customer Segment(s)
- Who are the customers or prospects we are creating that “value” for? Although this sounds simple, it’s a critical question to answer. Don’t assume you know. If at all possible, narrow this down to a representative person – your avatar. Podcaster John Dumas of “Entrepreneur on Fire” not only knows the demographics and psychographics of his target listener but also has a representive sketch of that ideal listener and even names him – Jimmy. Now we’re communicating with a specific person, rather than just “someone out there” and our communication will certainly convey that. This leads to the next point.
- What are the potential customer’s social and buying behaviors and patterns? Here we want to really narrow our focus and describe the behaviours, the psychographics of our target customer we’re targeting. Rather than taking Tony’s build it and they’ll come approach, research the behavior patterns of the individuals in our target market. How are they currently engaging? How are they spending their time? What are their buying patterns? Go out into the market place and seek out solid research data. Thanks to the Internet, much of this is now at our fingertips.
- How will my customer experience my product? What will the anticipated emotional reaction be? Will they talk about it and if so in what terms? Get into it! This will have you experiencing what your customer will experience. Back to the point about connecting, our customer must be able to relate to us and what we have.
In closing this segment, ask yourself this telling question; Would I be my own best customer? Why?
3. What are the best channels to reach our customers through?
Only now should we concern ourselves with the strategy and channels through which we’ll reach our customers.
So, before jumping in and developing our Website/Blog, building our Facebook or other Social Media strategy, addressing the following questions will greatly simplify our selection and help us gain focus and move forward. Plus, it’ll get us much closer to the success we’re seeking.
- Where are our potential customers hanging out? Is it on Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin or ?
- How are they interacting and engaging? Are they communicating at all? If so, how? What are they saying and wanting for?
- How do our potential customers want to or prefer to be reached? Having an idea of the dialog they are engaging in will give us a clue as to whether they are just tire kickers or serious about finding a solution. For instance, if you find them in a Facebook group discussing an issue you have expertise in, why not engage them?
- How are they currently being reached, if at all? Are others engaging with them and if so, who are they? Are they our competitors or just their peers looking for a similar solution?
- Which marketing channels would work best? This goes back to the first question, where are you finding them hanging out?
- How are we going to integrate our communication with their current routine? Having the answer to this question is critical as it sets the tone for our communication with our potential customer. Find a good discussion on that at Connecting With Your Target Audience Using Social Media.
Even if you don’t take your product or service through all of these questions, hopefully this will have you thinking more strategically.
In Closing: If nothing else, test your idea on a limited segment of who you perceive your target customer to be before investing a lot of time, money and effort in bringing your idea to market. Let your market tell you whether you have something worth marketing or not.
In today’s very noisy and confusing marketing environment, it’s about connecting with your audience/potential customer and building a relationship. The old days of enticing sales pitches and techniques are over. Today the consumer has most of the decision making information before them. As a result, in most instances, they are in charge of the transaction, rather than the other way around. Our job is to provide the value they are seeking.
About the Author: Andre Kasberger is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and advisor to Internet challenged entrepreneurs and Small Business owners. As the founder and facilitator of the long running and very successful Suncoast Internet Marketing Mastermind Meetup group, he and his group have helped hundreds of individuals get a grasp on what it takes to make progress in this new Marketing paradigm. This Post addresses one of the major challenges observed over the years. Andre can be reached at: Andre@suncoastimm.com