“The people you most want to reach are likely to be the very people that are the most difficult to reach. Attention is not yours to take whenever you need it. And trust is not something you can insist on. You can earn trust, just as you can earn attention. Not with everyone, but with the people that you need, the people who need you.”
You have an amazing product and you want to sell it to everyone! Any buyer who’ll listen to your message, stop and peruse your ad, LIKE or FOLLOW your posts and tweets. The more you sell to EVERYONE, the better. Right?!
Who Needs You?
When I ask manufacturers, “Who’s your potential customer?” Nine times out of ten I get this answer, “EVERYONE is our potential customer.”
This may have been the case once upon a time in 1956 when granddad started the company. Demand was high and the competition was non-existent. Not anymore! Today, you’re doing business in an ‘Amazon-1-click-personalized-experience-world’ and your prospects and customers have personalized options coming out of their rear ends.
Since this is now the world we market in, why is your catalog, website, brochure, and trade show leave-behind still sporting a one-size-fits-all message to try and sell EVERYONE?
EVERYONE is not your potential customer. SOMEONE is. And, that ‘someone’ is very specific. Above all, they need you to solve their problem. Consequently, to earn their attention your message has to be relevant and feel personal. It has to matter.
Casting a Smaller Net Doesn’t Mean Smaller Sales
Rather than casting a wide net (think Forest Gump and the shrimp boat) consider casting a butterfly net instead. Stay with me here.
Better customers equal more sales. Use a smaller net with finer mesh specifically cast in the right places to attract and retain the abundance of “monarchs” you desire. No more wasted time sifting through old boots and toilet seats.
For example, consider one of your segments—ARCHITECTS.
Let’s assume that your products are best suited for higher-end applications. Do all architects specialize in high-end projects? No. Only some do. That narrows the list down a bit.
Are your products also environmentally friendly? How many architects on your list specialize in “green” or sustainable buildings? By the way, these same architects are always interested in what’s new and possible. Because of your unique solution, you can solve their problem better than anyone else.
Ironically, they’ve never even heard of you. Your salespeople have never reached out to ANY of them. Maybe, just maybe, they don’t know what to say.
If your sales people were fluent in architect (challenges, preferences, dreams, objections, habits) the likelihood of your products getting specified more often increases dramatically. More specs, higher sales.
What Makes SOMEONE Tick?
Revisit your audience and dig deeper than education, age, and gender. Really get to know them:
- Category | Architects
- Specialty | High-end Commercial Projects
- Cares About | Unique or Energy Saving Materials, Solving Challenging Design Problems, Reputation, Referrals, Continuing Education Credits, Easy Sourcing, Designing to Code, Partners they can Trust
- Sharing | Opinions, Tweets, Project Case Studies, Articles, F2F Time, Presentations
- Reading | High-end Architectural Publications, Specific Trade Journals, Plans, Blogs, Email
- Hearing | Podcasts, Webinars, Tradeshow Speakers, Conference Speakers, Industry Hype, Colleagues Recommendations
- Seeing | Videos, Industry Trends, News Reports, Tweets, Posts, Sales Reps, Job Sites, Websites, Ads
Would your salespeople say that your brand is, indeed, everywhere THESE architects are? Speaking their language, not yours.
Mapping your content (conversation) to the buying cycle? Nothing is more off-putting than hearing from a company you already do business with who speaks to you as if you’re a prospect they’ve never met yet. (AT&T is famous for this)
Your Shrimpin’ Pay Off
Furthermore, just because you have a product to sell doesn’t mean you have instant credibility either. Your specific ‘someones’ (in this case, architects) can’t simply hear what you have to say, they need to believe in what you’re promising. To be heard, however, you must first earn their attention.
Direct mail, and other “disruptive” methods, like cold-calling, have made it easy to tap large numbers of people. But the very ease of this behavior also makes it less effective.
Seth Godin reminds us, “The economics of attention scarcity are obvious, and you might not like it, but it’s true. The bad news is that you are not entitled to attention and trust. It is not allocated on the basis of some sort of clearly defined scale of worthiness. The good news is that you can earn it. You can invest in the community, you can patiently lead and contribute and demonstrate that the attention you are asking be spent on you is worthwhile.”
Invest in what matters to each audience segment.
Contribute to the conversations and causes that matter to them.
Demonstrate that you understand them through your actions and creativity.
Create products, services, and communications that are relevant.
By the way, this takes much more than throwing your catalog onto your website in a flip book, showing up at trade shows with nothing new and sending out a couple random tweets when your “social media person” feels like it. It takes strategy, creativity and a genuine interest in solving their unique problems.
Ultimately, in order to matter to them, you’ve got to understand how your products and services solve their unique problems and then learn to speak their language. SOMEONE will be forever grateful you did and trust you to do it over and over again!
Smaller Net, Better System, Different Results
- Identify your SOMEONES—understand their challenges, needs, preferences, and habits.
- Build Customer Personas for each audience segment.
- Develop a Content Strategy that aligns with your overall marketing strategy
- Generate pillar and microcontent
- Map content to the buying cycle
- Schedule and release content consistently
- Measure engagement, Adapt, Repeat
Finally, here’s to specifically attracting better customers by building a brand that isn’t just seen and heard, it’s felt.
P.S. Already talking to your potential customers like they’re SOMEONE? What kind of a difference has it made for your sales team? To your bottom line? Share in the comments below or consider passing this on to a colleague or manager who still thinks EVERYONE is a potential customer.