Whether you are brand spanking new to business or are more established everyone will tell you that aside from your product or service the key to your success relies on 2 other things.
Knowing what your target audience needs and being able to market it to them as something they want.
Something I have really struggled with in the process of building my own business is reaching out to new potential clients. Like an awful lot of people I find it very hard to ‘big myself up’ and have never considered myself a natural salesperson.
But I think that we often confuse our feelings towards sales because what actually makes it feel ‘slimy’ is the historic overly slick and at times conscious lacking methods with which people market their wares.
Yet, marketing is the bedrock of any successful business.
Once I realised this and decided that marketing is simply a conversation opener which is in effect, a celebration of your product or service, it felt less slimy and more something that I could make my own.
I learned during my decades in customer service that if you’re not able to communicate with your clients in a way that makes them sit up and take notice your journey with them is going to be much more difficult and long winded. So looking at marketing as the early stages of customer service has been a great way for me to re-frame it.
What to expect when you first start marketing
There are a few things that it’s worth giving you a heads up on when it comes to your marketing and what that means, particularly in the early days.
- You will make mistakes that make you blush in the future
- You will feel like you’re spamming your friends, family, social media and potential clients (carry on trying and learning. You’re not spamming, you’re working)
- You will be a bit rubbish at it
- You do get better the more you do
- If they aren’t paying your bills, they shouldn’t have a say in how often you share your products/services etc.
- Consistency is key from day one. The sooner you get consistent the sooner you will reap the rewards.
- Nobody does it well first time round the block
- The more ‘you’ it is the better it will be
The two most important factors to consider when you are marketing
I’m going to caveat this next bit because I think it’s important to remember that the world, people and business evolves. Your business and the needs of your customer will often be best served if you periodically revisit these two factors and reassess them.
So, when it comes to marketing your product or service which as I just mentioned, I now think of as ‘opening the conversation and starting the customer service journey with potential clients’ you should ask yourself 2 things.
- Is this the correct market for my product or service
- Do I really understand (on a core level) who my potential purchasers within this market actually are?
There are so many tools out there that will help you to define your IC (ideal client) and these sorts of tools are great to get the ball rolling but as I said before, this is an ongoing process. I also deeply believe that as a business, your first thought of an ideal client may not mirror who you actually find you love working with.
For instance, I always thought of myself as a mans woman. I cut my teeth in male dominated industries and I thought that techy start ups run by men were my IC (obviously I went more detailed than that but you get the gist) as it turns out once I started working with people I realised that I much preferred working with women who were more like me and had a background more like my own.
Breaking down your IC is all well and good but it can be bloody difficult when you first start out and haven’t really worked with many people and to be frank, that’s often evident in your attempts to market to everyone. Your message to them becomes generic and forgettable. Not to mention the ones you do seem to acquire can be totally the wrong fit. Think of this as your learning curve and a necessary one at that and don’t be afraid to re-evaluate your IC.
When you understand who your market really is, the way you understand your parents or your friends, you will know how to reach them on a gut level and that my friends, is memorable.
You know its happened because it’s a ‘saved for later’ post or a DM or a favourited web page. Then you do it again by repeating your message and showing your empathy with them and they get to know you too. It’s then (with this repetition and sharing information that shows you get it) that they realise you understand them. After a while they add to cart or email using your contact form and book that call or maybe, they refer a friend to you.
This is the sign of being in the right market, knowing who your market really is and then knowing how to speak with them well and doing so consistently.
So what is the strategy to really understand your audience and make sales?
Being strategic isn’t ‘cold’ in fact, as someone that worked in high stress, high level customer service environments I know that having a strategy for ongoing relationship building is the kindest thing you can do for your clients and your business.
The first part of your overall customer strategy starts with collecting all of the information you know about your customers in terms of their IC details and using this as an ongoing support resource.
This will enable you to address their concerns, problems, pain points, the things that keep them up at night and their deepest wants. This part of the stratagem is just collecting anything informational about your IC in order to help you understand them.
You could support this in a lot of ways, some will of course depend on the stage you’re at in your business. You could run surveys, do general market research, competition research, existing client feedback and research etc.
I don’t think spending any more than a few minutes a day say 10-15 for maybe a week or two is too much to commit to in order to really get down to the soul of your IC.
This is step 2 and it’s all about starting to build relationships with your customers and finding and practising ways that you can cultivate those relationships.
This is where you take it one step further then just collecting information from them. This is the stage where you cultivate those conversations, where you are talking to each other about them about what’s going on and importantly where you listen to what they’re telling you. Here you need to really listen to what they are struggling with and to what they really want in life.
Start the conversation and then participate in it, listen to the other person and follow up with them, appreciate their struggles and emotions and take them on board. And remember, your focus isn’t just on cultivating a sale here, it’s about building a relationship with this person.
Let them get to know, like and trust you and you do the same. Be a human and not just some techy message on an app desperate for a quick buck.
So you’ve gathered the information, you have opened the conversations and you have begun to build relationships. Now it’s time to take that one step further.
It’s time to really unleash the empathy and get emotional.
Here’s the thing, have you ever really struggled with something and finally ‘cracked’ and shared your frustration with someone only for them to say “why don’t you just do this, that’ll sort it out”
It feels almost like you’re being embarrassed for not doing it sooner, it can make you feel a little disappointed in yourself and if you’re anything like me it actually makes it harder to connect with that person again because we need clarity but we also desire empathy.
However, if you have the ability to put yourself in someone elses shoes the response might be a little more something like this.
“That’s such a tough position to be in, I really appreciate how this must be making you feel right now. I don’t know if I ever told you but I had something similar with XYZ and I know it’s not for everyone but this is what really helped me get through it…..”
The actual ‘fix’ will likely be the same but the way it was said was different, one was empathetic and one was instructional. The reason you share it is the same – to be helpful. The only difference is one shows a deeper emotional understanding of their situation and that’s what creates emotional connection.
Here’s the thing
There is nothing on the planet that can genuinely guarantee you get sales, but if you can really become exceptional at the above then what you will find is that your content, your ads, your products and services, your resources all become so much easier to create, you build relationships and relationships aren’t one and done, they’re ongoing.
This is about growth and sustainability for your business and both those things are only possible when you truly ‘get’ your people.
If you want more ‘how to’ teachings about this and many other things I run regular FREE workshops and masterclasses, these all get emailed to anyone registered for access. Want access?