Four Keys to Defining Your Company in The Minds of Your Target Customers
According to Forbes, 90-percent of startups fail. So, what is the secret to being part of the other 10-percent? It all starts with identifying what your business is known for. What is typically being sold today is a list of things, jargon and platitudes, such as “we’re the biggest,” “we’re the fastest,” “we have 450 years of combined experience,” etc. However, this list doesn’t solve a problem or give any hint of a solution to a problem. What needs to be sold is the benefit to your customer.
If you want to join the 10-percent of successful entrepreneurs and develop a prosperous business, then you need to understand the four keys of company identity:
Accurately Identify Your Target Market: I know we’ve all heard this before, but too many companies are still getting it wrong and are not accurately identifying their target markets. They are trying to be all things to all people, which just creates white noise that doesn’t resonate with anyone. Your target market needs to know that you are speaking directly to them, when you market to them. If not, you’re wasting your money. And, they won’t know you’re speaking to them, unless you’re pushing their hot buttons.
We all know the traditional way to identify audiences is to break them down by age, gender, marital status, income, family size, zip code, and the list goes on. However, this is where so many companies are missing the mark. In addition to demographics, you should use the psychographic approach, which provides personal insight into the target audience. Think more personal and lifestyle, or the “warm and fuzzy” side of things. What are their likes, dislikes, political affiliations, and favorite music? Do they spend a lot of time watching TV, listening to the radio, on social media, reading newspapers and magazines, etc.? This unlocks what makes your target audience tick and will get you closer to what they like and what they don’t like, particularly in terms of the kind of product or service you’re selling and the benefits it would deliver.
Benefits: Speaking of benefits, this is where the magic happens. The reality for businesses today is that the playing field is not always level, products/services are commoditized and some of your competitors are bigger and better-known than your brand. So, how do you resonate with your target market? Rather than communicating or promoting specifications or a list of what you do, start with communication that addresses:
- The target audience’s pain, passion and problem to be solved
- The value or benefits of what you produce/sell
- How those benefits directly address the target audience’s problem to be solved
This is where the problem lies. Too many businesses are trying to sell a list of specifications rather than selling what really matters. Companies need to be selling benefits.
Let me share an example. I recently asked a client who was struggling with product sales, “What do you manufacturer?” Her response was, “Tennis apparel for plus size ladies who have a passion for tennis.” I then asked her why she started her business. She is a plus size lady herself, and has a strong passion for tennis, with hundreds of friends across the country who are also plus size ladies and love tennis. In recent years, the majority of them have withdrawn from the game. Our society being what it is has set them up to be subjected to some unfortunate comments and overtures on the court, such as, “what are you doing here?” Or, “You don’t have any business here” kind of nonsense. They also found it difficult to find tennis apparel that fit them well and provided all the flexibility and support they needed. This has nothing to do with the fact that they are plus size. It’s the fact that those attributes of tennis apparel would be the same for anyone in an active sport. We all want apparel that’s sturdy, breathes when we do a lot of muscle movement, looks good and is comfortable. The point is, they found it much more difficult being plus size to find something good looking and comfortable, as well as functional.
Unfortunately, for many of her friends, based on the way they had been made to feel when they were on the court, left the game, were staying at home, and had become extremely self-conscious about it. Even though they longed to play the sport, they stayed away from the tennis court. She started her business because she wanted to change that and give them something to go back to the court for, and feel good about being there.
When she started my program, I asked her, “What do you sell?” The operative word here is sell, not manufacture, as I had originally asked her. However, she gave me the same answer. I explained to her that she doesn’t sell tennis apparel for plus size ladies. What she is selling is liberation, giving people some of their self-esteem back, giving them part of their life back, and making them feel good on the court again. They can look good, feel good, and have their enjoyment back, along with the socializing that comes with the sport. For whatever reason it never occurred to her to articulate it in that way in terms of what she sells and how she marketed her offering to potential customers. What can we learn from this? You don’t sell the widget…you sell the benefits of the widget. You don’t sell the service…you sell the benefits of the service.
Differentiation: Quit focusing so much on the competition. There is no need to mimic them, use similar positioning, etc., as it just dilutes the differentiation and makes your business look exactly like your competition. You should be doing the opposite. How am I different than my competition? How is my product or service better? You need to talk to your target audience, who has a real problem and needs a real solution. If you can target them with a precise message outlining how you are different and how they can benefit from your product or solution, you are right on target. This is why so many marketing dollars are being wasted, because companies craft the wrong ads, with the wrong content, that doesn’t resonate with anyone that would be their target market. Again, assuming they even identify them right in the first place.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon: Another common mistake I see companies constantly making is that they give up way too soon. Research shows that it takes between five and 12 times for your message to resonate with a potential customer. It’s not how many ads you send out because they probably haven’t seen every ad. They need to have contact and interaction with at least five messages. So, this may mean you have to target them 10 to 15 times before they see five of them. Too many companies stop sending material after three tries, thinking the email list is wrong, and move on to new targets. Consumers today are busy, living their lives, but even if you have identified the correct target market, even if you are touching on the right hot buttons, the fact is they must see your ad and marketing materials a minimum of five times. This is the magic threshold of getting into the zone where you’re beginning to resonate with your target market and they’re beginning to notice you’re there and that you can solve a problem they have. Bottom line, you can’t give up too soon.
If you’d like to learn more about generating more revenue by effectively connecting with your target customers, I urge you to attend a free local seminar (dinner included) in your area. The next event, “How to Generate All the Leads & Revenue Your Business Can Handle,” will be held at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at The Georgian Club in Atlanta. Go here to register now: www.AboveC-Level.com/live/register.