Recently I was asked how to determine a customer profile for a new business startup. Another person sought guidance on how to promote a new service for his business. Both were not sure where to start.
When a person starts to build a business, there are many roads to take to arrive at his/her destination. Marketing is the most critical road to maneuver because many detours arise prior to reaching the final destination. What road leads a person to an ideal customer?
Avid readers of my blog know I use the term direct marketing more than others in small business marketing. Direct marketing is the most direct route you can take to reach a potential customer with a message.
One of the many points I‘ve learned from direct marketing is that the message must stimulate the reader to buy. That point is extremely relative in today’s marketing. And knowing more about customers, their wants and needs is critical to get your message read.
Never stop asking questions because customer needs are always changing.
Direct marketing means you need to hit your target and provide them a strong reason to buy. People don’t buy products or services, they buy opportunities. Buying decisions are not made through reasoning and logic, but through the lens of wants, needs, interests, joys, fears, hopes, expectations, and regrets. Beyond the basics of water, food, shelter, clothing, and warmth, virtually everything people buy is based on fulfilling an emotional desire. Once you touch people emotionally, reasoning and logic are used merely to confirm a buying decision.
The best direct marketing is based on customer profiles of people who are more likely to buy. Everything you learn about people during the buying experience must be entered into a customer profile and add these to a database.
Companies begin to gather data such as demographics, age, male or female, homeowner, children, boy or girl, grade school or nursery school and on and on. Good data leads to sales and great data leads to more sales because the company understands their customers. Follow along with Juliet as she uses our six-point planning path to know more about customers and how to manage them.
Make the wrong assumptions and the business may reach a dead end. How many dead ends can a business reach before they run out of fuel?
The best person for getting the right answers from assumptions is the one who started the business. These people are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have a vision. Something a person tells them will resonate with them and fuel the thought process with additional ideas and information about potential customers.
1. If you are the entrepreneur, don’t take short cuts by hiring someone else to do it.
2. Using direct marketing successfully requires customer profiles to help them make a decision to buy.
3. An entrepreneurial start-up who gets closer to the product or service by making assumptions about potential customers and shares his or her vision with them, reaps the reward of having great customer profiles to realize a rosy future of business success.
Thanks for reading and please share my message!
Most small companies, who rely on email, mail or other digital communications, would tell anyone who would listen that the key to success in marketing communications –– as well as in most all marketing –– is consistency.
Promote regularly. Email regularly. Call regularly. Mail regularly.
But also understand it’s an easy trap to fall into if you’re not careful. In fact, regardless of the way in which many companies promote, they typically always fall short when it comes to consistency.
Consistency means formulating a core story or message that conveys who you are, how you help, and how you do what you do better than anyone else, and then consistently hammering away at this message.
If customer service is your forte, bang away at it in everything you do. Show off what you do best. Build on your strengths. See, it’s exactly the same good advice you’d give to anyone who asks, “How did you build your business?”
Just make sure that 1) you establish you as the authority on what you do and 2) to encourage customers to communicate with you regarding their questions and challenges.
If you like what you’re reading, now is a great the time to expand your Dream Client List! If, for example, you have 250 customers, round up to 1,000.
You need to think about your Dream Client List for a while. But, this is a good strategic marketing activity –– one you probably ought to be doing periodically, if you’re not already doing it. You want to answer…
• What customers would I like to grab from my competitors?
• What vertical markets, if any, have I serviced best in the past?
• What types of customers are most profitable, utilizing more of the services I offer?
• What “dream” businesses in the area have I always wanted to have as clients?
• What business categories purchase the most often?
You will want to and need to build your dream list one contact at a time –– thinking about a particular company you’d like to do business with, calling to verify data, and then obtaining the name of the decision maker.
CONCLUSION: Take the time to create a core story. By doing so, every single message you deploy is consistent and supports your core story. Plus, every single message supports every single other message. Stick to your core story. Don’t let anything pull you off course!
Warning: LOW PRICE IS NOT THE MESSAGE YOU WANT TO CONVEY WHEN YOU CREATE YOUR CORE STORY.
Need help with a core story? Here’s why and how. After you read my story, call me today (800-251-3680). I’ll be happy to tell you what I can do better than anyone else!
Thanks for reading and please share my message!
Consumers seek out brands that they know and like. This can also be equated to trust, an important emotional benefit that works in direct mail. Consumers, who consistently buy a certain brand, do it because they trust the brand.
Becoming an enduring brand with a loyal following starts early and takes a lot of time and effort. In the present stage of customer centric marketing it can be more important than ever.
We all have our favorite brands but today, consumers are more willing to try another brand. If it means a consumer is willing to switch to your brand, that’s a good thing. If it’s your brand that they are leaving, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your brand image.
A brand image is just as important for the small company. It’s not just for the big boys on the block anymore. Here are a few ideas that can help you think about branding to assist in building a new brand or re-inventing your existing brand.
Think about the big brands that you do like. Make a few notes. You’ll need them as you look at other brands. Don’t limit yourself. The more brands you think about, the better. Now look over the notes of those you like and how they may pertain to your company.
Next, think about what is the particular niche that your product and service was intended to fill. Define your brand’s strengths and unique benefits. Then ask:
Today’s consumers want more than the product they are purchasing. They are looking for an experience, so your brand image must offer a distinctive package of benefits.
Here is a simple definition of a brand that focuses on customer needs.
“Your brand is the promise you keep… not the promise you make to your marketplace.”
Better than giving customers what they want, is anticipating what that might be. When you think of premium brands, quality is probably the first word that comes to mind. Quality will always help you land customers, but a created brand loyalty is built by consistency.
By now you have a lot of ideas and a few loose ends that you need to tighten up. To help tighten up your brand image, explain to customers what will happen after they buy.
Those customers you have spoken to, what promise(s) do they want you to keep? If it was free shipping what can you do for them that is better?
Finally, a brand should never compare even so slightly to your competition. So, what promises can you keep better than the competition? If the competition can deliver within 24 hours what do you need to do to deliver the same day?
Will you always hit your brand goals? The answer is probably no, but when you don’t, give the customer something extra for their trouble. That’s the type of consistency that will pay off from your brand image and keep customers coming back.
The motivation to avoid loss is often stronger than the motivation to acquire something. Some of the things people seek to avoid are:
* Offense to others
* Domination by others
* Loss of reputation
Avoiding embarrassment is an example of a strong emotional appeal that powers much modern advertising. Years ago, most people bathed less frequently, once a week or even less. Soap manufacturers used the embarrassment appeal to alter American society’s view of proper social etiquette so that most people now bathe or shower once a day.
In addition to seeking gains and avoiding losses, people also strive to act, or at least to be seen by others as acting, in certain ways. For example, people like to:
* Express a unique personality
* Satisfy curiosity
* Act or appear like a heroic figure
* Attract the opposite sex
* Improve themselves physically, mentally, or spiritually
* Gain affection of others
* Be accepted into social circles
* Create and live up to a reputation
* Fulfill personal obligations
* Create or accomplish things to be proud of
* Reward themselves
* Protect themselves from harm
Years ago, advertisers sold paint-by-number sets to people who couldn’t paint but who nevertheless wanted the feeling of creating a work of art. This clever product satisfied the need to create something to be proud of. The same emotional appeal is used today to sell gardening products to those who want a beautiful lawn and flower beds.
People also enjoy feeling that they are special in some way. More specifically, they wish to “be seen” as something special. This is related to some of the previous appeals, such as expressing a unique personality or gaining prestige. It’s such a strong motivator, though, that it is used in a variety of ways by savvy advertisers.
Let me read your stories. Do you follow any guidelines before you start to write your copy? Do you use design to accentuate a negative? What works best for your company?
Direct marketing techniques are very useful to use in present marketing tactics. Ever wonder why someone didn’t make a purchase?
Buying decisions are not made though reasoning and logic, but through the lens of wants, needs, interests, joys, fears, hopes, expectations, and regrets. Beyond the basics of water, food, shelter, clothing, and warmth, virtually everything people buy is based on fulfilling an emotional desire. Once you touch people emotionally, reasoning and logic are used merely to confirm a buying decision.
So what are the specific wants people have? To start with, people want to acquire things they don’t have enough of. These include:
* Pride of accomplishment
* Better appearance
* Ego gratification
* Business advancement
* Social advancement
Some of these wants are obvious. Everyone desires health, especially if they are getting older or are not in peak health to begin with. Any appeal that promises greater health, more energy, and the ability to be more active will create a strong emotional reaction.
Other wants are less obvious. Ego gratification isn’t something people discuss, and it’s not something you can mention directly in advertising copy. But everyone wants to feel important and special. This is one reason that automobile ads usually show happy, successful people at the wheel.
I have met many business owners, managers and employees throughout the years. Now I’m even meeting more through my writings and social media. I find each encounter noteworthy but especially reading the ones about their business stories or to answer a question or two.
In a recent a discussion, someone asked why do people give information away for free and how can they trust free information? Those are two really good questions but have answered them many times.
Here’s my key point on the subject. Any advice may be free, but the solution may not be and unaffordable to some. Each and every small business is unique. If you’re the decision maker, you need to determine if any solution in the content you read is something worth pursuing. Always do your homework.
This leads to another key point. One of the main reasons a small business needs a budget is to control spending. A budget can help you determine what advice is really affordable. In my experience with small business budgets, those who have them swear by them.
Very early on in my career, I worked with engineers. I learned sharing my information from one project to another with other customers, for me, opened more doors. Why? I had proof and was able to share it with them in a way an engineer would understand. Expressing the solution through sharing content was a key point that led to trust.
But since companies do not all operate the same way, solutions needed tweaking to meet other customer needs. In many situations, a company may not have known they even had a problem until they read my content in an article, white paper, case study or in a presentation.
Knowing your customer is another key point. Knowing your customer helps you become creative. Creativity leads to better solutions and ultimately to better products and services.
Today is no different. In marketing, I know when a company decides to build customer profiles and learn more about prospective customers, the company successfully meets its marketing goals. It’s the key point that drives your company’s marketing. The methodology today is Customer-Centric Marketing.
I know everyone in marketing struggles to understand what makes a person tick. Such as how one of a hundred emotions may figure into making a sale or losing a sale.
There are other endless ways to get a person to respond, and occasionally, that response may occur on the second Tuesday of next week. You may just need to have the right key to get an answer.
Every company and every customer is unique. There is never one correct answer, but many. That’s the main reason I enjoy what I do and share what I know. When someone responds to my information, I learn a little more about them. And, That’s been the key to my success.
Creativity is the key to success using information as a marketing strategy to assist in building business. You may have read in one of my blogs that people buy a solution – not a product – to help them lead a better life or to make more sales for their company.
When I share information, the reader might see me as a potential solution provider. It’s now up to me to make the next move so a semblance of trust can start forming. I’m always listening and trying to help. That’s the key reason I’m in business today.
Many have said it’s what you do with the advice that counts. The choice is yours. Here’s my take on the free-content free-for-all and how you can get better answers. This was an actual discussion on LinkedIn that led me to write this post.
As a marketing professional with 30 plus years of experience I have a lot to share. But as a marketer I know I can’t be everything marketing to everybody, so I must focus on my target market and use my skill set of direct marketing and mail to reach prospects.
In order to get the best results with direct marketing, mail and social channels, I know a strong focus on what a customer wants or needs is paramount to any marketing success. As I learn more about customers, it’s time get creative, test and analyze the results. This is known as customer-centric marketing.
The analysis leads to a more relevant marketing message. An exciting offer is the final push to buy. A message is sent via a preferred marketing channel to a target market while we eagerly wait and add up the responses.
There is always a plus and minus number of the anticipated response due to the many quirks of human nature. But it’s another chance to learn something else about customers and make the next message more responsive.
Social media conversations are unique but there are ways to help determine the importance of informational content.
I join groups on LinkedIn where I think members of my target market exist, and share potential relevant marketing information that may hit my target market. It the group was a “miss,” I move on to another.
Or I can tweet a targeted message with an offer to learn more, by adding a link to this blog or a website. However, unlike an actual meeting I must wait until the receiver of the message responds.
A dialogue using social media just as one could in an actual meeting must occur. In direct marketing we call that a “hook.” The “hook” creates interest and next you need an offer to set the hook.
This offer could be anything that brings people together to have a conversation but definitely not a cost.
Excitement occurs when it leads to a dialogue. Both parties have time to ask questions, listen and learn. If an agreement to continue the discussion is made, usually the next option is to describe a good working relationship that enables both parties to reach their goals.
I can use all of this direct marketing information I collect when I meet people face-to-face. If during a dialogue there is interest in my direct marketing and mail expertise, I can focus on 3, 5 or 7 ways to help the person with a marketing problem.
The key point is listening or reading “between the lines.” Check out credentials and profiles that you can find on LinkedIn. I “listen” to a discussion on LinkedIn or Twitter and respond to anyone that starts talking about a marketing problem that I know how to solve.
Researching the person and their company leads me to paint a picture in my mind of this person’s customer base, their product or service and what similar experiences I had relating to a similar marketing problem.
If you have some marketing questions please leave a few in the comments area below. Comments are sent to me so you’ll get my answers to your questions.
Remember the importance of having a dialogue is so each of us can learn more about each other’s business. I’m listening and hoping I can help.
The purpose of writing copy is to move people into taking action. The more you address the specific human elements that motivate your audience, the greater your chances to move them to action – to make a call, send an email or buy.
So what moves people? People cannot resist a bargain. People seek pleasure and satisfaction. People like exclusivity. People are looking for proven results. And some are even moved by greed.
People seek to improve themselves. They want to save time. People seek security and safety.
People seek power, stature, and fame, flattery from others and inside information. They are often envious, revengeful and proud.
People want to make money, save money, save time, stay healthy, become more knowledgeable, increase their status, and boost their prestige.
This is a never ending list as we try to understand the human mind and how it relates to purchasing our products and services. You need not attempt to solve the human condition in every direct marketing piece you write. What you need to do is to think carefully about what you are selling, to whom, and how best to make them want to take action.
It’s a complicated activity and, at the same time, it is easy. Your direct marketing must lead human beings to consider worthy opportunities to improve their personal situations.
It becomes much easier when you take the time to keep learning more about your customers and provide products and services that exceed their expectations.
Some of those expectations may even be in the preceding paragraphs.
For additional information, please request our free report, “14 Proven Money-Making Offers for Direct Mail” by visiting our report website and requesting MCG270. All I need is your email address and name. Your information is never given out to anyone or added to our database.
Thanks for reading. Any questions please post them below.
An old fishing guide once said that there is no better feeling than when a fish takes your bait and you jerk the line to set the bait. That’s when the fun begins as you try to land the one that hopefully, won’t get away.
This winter, I wrote five posts on using the fundamentals of direct marketing in your present day communications. They are tried and true direct marketing and mail fundamentals that will work with today’s many communication channels. For your convenience the list is at the end of today’s post on creating an offer to get customers to act quickly.
People who operate in the direct marketing and mail business understand the importance of creating a sense of urgency in a marketing offer. The value of having the sale happen now is that if it does not, it may not happen at all.
If the sale happens now, it increases the likelihood that another sale will happen later. Here are a few of the tried and true strategies to help your customers and prospects overcome the dreaded disease of procrastination!
Please feel free to thank the direct marketing and mail industry for sharing their past successes with you. Try them. They do work.
A price increase always tracks attention. Before you raise the prices, contact all your customers and prospects to hurry and get their next order in before the increase.
People love to save money. Remind them that if they do not buy now they’ll have to pay more with the next order. Make sure you give people ample notice and time to respond.
It may be a limited supply of last years’ version or limited at the old price. The copy should gently remind them there will be a long wait if the order is not placed by the deadline or a missed opportunity.
Everyone loves to get something extra. When you add value and offer a bonus, you may be able to convince your customers and prospects to respond more quickly. This is a tried and true method that is still used extensively today – because it still works!
Hurry, call now. You have 10 days to make a decision. This offer will not be repeated. Sometimes these expressions appear corny, but they really do motivate. Buyers in today’s fast-paced economy and with digital messaging coming at them from many different directions believe them.
Obviously, there are many different ways to create a sense of urgency. Keep track of the ones that work and note if there is a particular segment of people in your database that can make the mailing even more relevant.
Combining tricks and tactics, using different communication channels, working with benefits, motivating your readers to consider something new, all point to how much fun direct marketing can be. It may not be as much fun as landing that really big fish, but it does build your revenue when everything clicks. And, that’s what we are in business for.
As promised here is the list for additional posts on the fundamentals and techniques of direct marketing and mail:
Thanks for reading. Any questions please post them below.
This led to discussions on what compromises a good description of a marketing employee and the traits they need to succeed in a small business. Areas discussed were customer service, copywriting, email, ideas and layout, experience and other support areas helping to meet company goals.
Statistics may bore out on a variety of marketing personalities who have achieved success, but generally, each manager and business had their own particular needs, so there are many possibilities. Here is a short list of nine key traits I’ve identified:
1. Some people want buckets of money and nothing more. Pass.
2. Others want peace of mind and the ability to provide a good living for themselves and their employees. Accept.
3. It’s not easy to find a person that enjoys the responsibility of marketing in a small business. Eventually you will.
4. If they believe in themself, committed to long, hard work, and seek expertise from others, they have a good chance to succeed. Accept.
5. People working in a small business need to embrace change because every day can be different. If they agree, there is potential.
6. A marketing person can be down and then be up. It’s all part of the small business world and marketing. Accept if they enjoy a roller coaster ride.
7. A successful marketing person has his or her own definition of success in the small business they work at. Some require multi-levels of success. And once achieved, they set another attainment of success. Hire immediately.
8. Taking small steps, some with more risk than others, and trying not to make the same mistake twice, was a consensus for a driven marketer. Makes a great hire!
9. Maybe yes, maybe no, or just maybe parts of people’s measurement for success was realized. It depends on the person and the autonomy given to them by their supervisors. May go either way but usually is worth the risk.
Now it’s your turn. If you own or work in marketing at a small business please add your traits below in the comments, but please tell me if you’re an owner or employee.
Please visit the previous post and add your response to that comment section regarding the fifth P of marketing. The winner will be announced soon. Hurry up, time’s a wasting!