Many small business owners I meet do not seem to have a clear view on this. It is a fundamental step in your marketing approach and if you get this wrong it will undermine all of your marketing efforts and investment.
Do you know who your customers are?
Use these 5 marketing planning steps to get a clear picture of who it is that you need to communicate with and it will also help you with what methods would be best to use to communicate to them.
1. What’s your USP?
Sorry for the jargon, you know I like to avoid it, but there isn’t really a clearer way to sum this up. It stands for Unique Selling Proposition. You need to identify what is it that your business does that makes you stand out from the crowd. Why should your potential customers buy product x or service y from you and not one of your many competitors? Without working this out, even a good customer profile won’t help. So always start here!
2. The target audience . . .
Next you need to think about who your customers are in terms of their characteristics and life stage. This is your Target Audience(s). Not all customers are created equal for your business. So you must treat them differently in your marketing communications.
– Are they married, single, have kids – how many and their ages?
– How old are they
– Male or female or both?
– Where do they live? Locally or could they be anywhere in the UK
– How far are they prepared to travel to experience or buy your product or service?
– When do they buy your product or service?
– How frequently?
– Why do they buy it? (A treat, time of stress, for their ego, a gift for someone else, a necessity?)
– Much do they earn and how do they earn a living? If it helps, think of them as a real person, even give them a name, so that you can visualise them as a real person that you need to communicate your message to.
If they are a business customer – think about their sector, size in terms of turnover, number of employees, location, key decision makers within the business – what makes them ‘tick’ and what influences their decisions to buy a product or service.
You may need to do some extra research – this can be done informally using customer surveys you have created with questions based around those listed above, or by asking your existing customers. If you know who already wants to buy your product you can then search out ‘look-a-likes’ who would also be pre-dispositioned to purchase from you.
3. What’s their need, pain, problem or desire?
It’s important to identify what motivates these customers have and how your product or service helps to solve or address this for them. You need to talk about the ‘benefits’ of what you offer rather than the features of it.
For example, if your product is ‘Quick to use’ (a feature), the benefit is it ‘saves the customer valuable time’. This is far more compelling to make the customer purchase. Always communicate BENEFITS, this is what will help to make your potential customers want to buy.
4. Fish where the fish are!
Next you need to think about the decision making and buying process these potential customers go through to buy your product or service. Identify if they do research before a purchase – the larger the financial or emotional investment – they more research that is done. Buying a house or a honeymoon – often has many hours invested in researching the purchase before a final decision is made! Where do they look – brochures, websites, social networks, through professional bodies or recommendation from a friend or colleague. Then, think about how they prefer to purchase – face to face, online or by mail order, etc.
5. Lastly – speak to them in a way they understand …
Now you’re ready to communicate your message. If copywriting isn’t your thing – enlist the help of a marketing specialist who can do this for you. It will take them a fraction of the time and get your communications out there quicker and with more impact (and results!). So it’s worth the investment. Always focus on what you’re good at – running your business!