There is a communication breakdown in business today. Sellers are speaking but somehow buyers can’t hear a thing. Ironically enough, these potential customers feel they are screaming, yearning, literally begging to have their needs met, but it seems sellers continue to go on their merry way hawking their wares.
All marketers like to believe they have a unique solution. They are confident that they are different from the competition. But when you get right down to it, most marketers are all saying the SAME thing. They talk about what they DO, the services they provide or the products they sell. At best, they may allude to some generic group of benefits that they THINK buyers are interested in. Sellers and marketers are busy working hard at finding more effective and creative ways to communicate what they do and why they are better than the competition. They invest millions in these efforts. Yet they rarely succeed.Why?
Let’s face it; all customers care about is “what’s in it for THEM.” Buyers are desperately attempting to discover how their problems will be solved by these products or services, how they will enhance their lives, make things easier or life more rewarding.
The four simple steps below can help in developing a marketing plan that is customer centered, informational oriented and in the end produces far greater returns:
Step 1: Create Interest
Develop the interest of the customer by first acknowledging their problems, empathizing with them, asking questions that bear on their need and suggesting some action that reverses their risk. Understand their challenges from an emotional viewpoint. Do a little work “for them” and discover how the experts deal with these problems. Speak with authority and from the viewpoint of the customer NOT as a vendor or supplier.
Try to depart from the traditional forms of communication such as brochures, mailers, print ads, radio, TV, and so on. This makes us look like everyone else… a salesperson or marketer. Opt rather for the educational and inspirational approach. This philosophy should also be adhered to when communicating in person. It is our responsibility that everyone in our organization communicate a consistent marketing message. This includes sales staff, customer service and all employees on the front lines with the customer.
Rules in creating interest:
- Acknowledge the customer’s problem
- Empathize with them
- Ask questions bearing on their need
- Reverse their risk
Step 2: Give Something Away
This second step is where we bring the power of informational marketing to bear. We offer some valuable information to the customer that will help them to see how they can solve some of their problems on their own without our product or service. Notice I didn’t say see the benefits of BUYING your product or service. They don’t care about that. In fact the more you tell them about how fabulous your product or service is, the less they want it. The trick here is to get the prospect to think about their problems in terms of your solution WITHOUT telling them it’s your solution. This approach opens their minds to possible solutions that they themselves haven’t thought of before. Since you are the person to help through this process, it lowers their defenses. You can eventually position your solution as the only solution by creating a relationship with the customer even BEFORE they buy. Creating this kind of mindset cannot be forced. It must be earned. Be willing to GIVE first before pitching your wares.
Rules in giving something away:
- Remove yourself from their solution
- Educate, inform and inspire
- Deliver a consistent message in all forms
- Evangelize rather than sell
- GIVE first
Step 3: Get Them on Your List
This gives us the ability to maintain contact with the prospect on a continuing basis. In this way we can build a rapport as well as educate the customer. In order to effectively launch an information-based marketing program we must craft a NO cost, NO risk, HIGH benefit offer that provides prospects with an incentive to sign-up with you to receive this information. We also must maintain a reliable database management system and employ a cost effective and user-friendly list management system.
Rules in getting them on your list:
- NO cost, NO risk, HIGH benefit offer just to sign-up for information
- Reliable database and list management system
- Make it easy to cancel subscriptions
Step 4: Stay In Touch
In this step we must plan to consistently stay in touch with our prospect base. This involves providing information to our prospects on a regular basis. This could be monthly, weekly or even daily. The information must NOT be sales oriented. It must offer very clear benefits that are customized specifically for the target audience. It must educate and be emotionally supportive to them. When using the telephone, we must be creative in finding good reasons to contact prospects. Otherwise we run the risk of losing credibility. Merely calling and “just following-up” doesn’t cut it anymore. It screams, “I’m desperate, got any business for me?” This of course is not in the interest of the customer and it will cause them to back away from you.
Rules in staying in touch:
- Make regular contact
- Information that is customized for the audience
- Provide information that is ONLY beneficial to the target audience NOT sales oriented information
The bottom-line is that traditional marketing just doesn’t work anymore. It focuses on GETTING. It centers on YOU. It tells them what they ALREADY know. It blends in with all the other NOISE. And it PUSHES people away. Following the above steps can revolutionize any marketing campaign. They are key in winning the customer’s trust and building a strong relationship. Practice and teach your people to be willing to first understand the customer’s needs, provide valuable information that serves their needs, and to find customer-centered reasons for staying in-touch. In other words be willing to GIVE FIRST!Give yourself every opportunity for success this year. Check out our web site for our next Entrepreneurial Workshop and get pre-registered. If nothing else I guarantee that it will be a great way to start the year with a positive first step.Those of you that have attended any of my classes know that they are energy packed and you walk out motivated and cranked-up!