Guess what? Your customers are quicker than you.
It’s a frightening thought, but once you embrace the concept of the “restless consumer”, the more chance you have of keeping up with them. Who knows you may even be able to predict what they want, which is almost like being ahead of them.
But let’s not run away with ourselves. They’re the ones in front, they move faster, they’re agile, hungry and they never sleep.
So how do you keep up? Your time is already pushed and this is just one of the many races you’re in.
Solid strategy and planning will guarantee you a head start, as well as a full and rounded view of how your audience behaves online.
Once you’re out of the blocks, ideas based on insights connected to an irrefutable product or service truth will keep you up to speed. Playing the guessing game is not the best strategy here; hard empirical data puts you on solid ground.
It also helps you work out if you’re adopting emerging technologies fast enough, or investing time and budgets in the right places.
If your brand is tracking trends, researching and acknowledging, you can quickly earn the enviable reputation of being a collaborative and pro-active organisation. And, as it turns out, people get behind businesses and brands that are like that.
It’s not impossible. Time and time again, we’ve seen consumers develop a strong emotional attachment and a sense of shared ownership with a particular brand, product or service.
Imagine that — your users with a vested interest in what your brand is up to online.
Before you know it, you can be right alongside them and even, dare we say it, setting the pace.
Steve Peters is digital business director at Manchester digital agency, Code Computer Love.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about marketing over the years it is this. As proud as you may be of your company, your product and/or your service, you should know that your customers or clients are definitely not as interested as you are. Their only concern is how well you can help them to meet their challenges and needs. If you want more of them to buy from you, your focus has to be on them, not on you.
Obsessive self-orientation is a mistake that many businesses make with their websites. They are convinced that the purpose of their site and their marketing is to talk continuously about how fantastic their company is. This is the belief that the louder you shout, the better the image you put across and the more sales you will get — otherwise known as megaphone marketing.
“Don’t be egotistical. Nobody cares about your products and services (except you). What people care about are themselves and solving their problems.”
David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR
Yes of course the purpose of marketing is help to you to win more business, but if you want your messages to be welcomed rather than seen as an irritation then shift your focus. Make every marketing communication primarily of benefit to the people who receive it and secondarily of benefit to you and your business. It’s not rocket science; it’s a simple awareness of human nature. And it will make all the difference to your marketing.
Putting your customers first
Practice management consultant Mel Lester demonstrates this customer-focused attitude perfectly. His desire is to create content that serves his clients and he leads his website with a strong promise:
“Mel Lester is pleased to offer this website as a valuable source of ‘how-to-get-things-done’ information and tools. I set out with an ambitious goal: to create the best Internet resource for helping managers of architectural, engineering, and environmental consulting firms succeed, both corporately and personally.”
Taken from the home page of www.thebizedge.biz
Mel’s statement demonstrates all the valuable attributes to aspire to. His content is helpful and focused (more magnet then megaphone), his goal clear and compelling. He has committed to content excellence and is evidently sincere in his desire to help. He focuses on the customer first and it gets results: by not selling so hard he elicits more sales.
If you are going to succeed with your marketing put your customer first, like Mel.
Sonja Jefferson is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and owner of Valuable Content Ltd. A new book — Valuable Content Marketing — by Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton is published in January 2013.
Want to read more by Sonja Jefferson?
You can find links to all her articles and blogs on her profile page.
I thought I’d take a moment out to tackle a personal bugbear of mine: excessive sign-up information requests.
Many websites quite reasonably ask users for sign-up information in order to access specific features like forums, or to join mailing lists, but sometimes, they just go too far:
It’s very understandable to want to know as much as you possibly can about a customer so that you can serve them better, but if you ask too many questions, you’re encroaching unnecessarily on their time, and if your questions get too personal, you’re encroaching on their privacy.
Remember, by its very definition, sign-up information is usually requested at the beginning of your relationship, so why ask in depth questions about a person’s business practices and personal life that you wouldn’t dream of asking at a first face-to-face meeting? At best, your customers will plough through the questions with a feint feeling of resentment and at worst, they’ll change their mind and go somewhere else.
Of course, asking for too little information may make it difficult to follow up with customers and target future marketing campaigns, so think carefully about the core information you need to know, and ask for that and only that. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a barrage of aborted sign-ups and false information.
To heighten an experience you can create expectations and/or you can condition the experience.
It adds to the “sizzle and the steak”.
I have recently been spending a lot of time thinking about product launches. My employer, SellerDeck, is a few weeks away from rolling out a major update to one of its ecommerce software products. While we have the advantage of an existing user base, many of the fundamentals for launching are the same whether it is an existing product or something completely new.
1. Understand the Unique Value Proposition
If your product is sat on the launch pad I would hope by this stage you know what it is that makes your offering different from the rest. The importance of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) cannot be understated; it’s the lifeblood of any product launch. Review, discuss and research until you are totally convinced you have got it right; you only get one launch window.
2. Talk to prospective customers
Get out there and talk to the very people you want to sell your product to. Discuss your plans for the product, both now and in the future. Get their feedback; it could be you missed something.
3. How are you going to sell and market?
Choosing where to market your product can be difficult. Make informed decisions based on research. It might even be a good idea to run several small pilot schemes to see where you get the most success. However prepare to be ruthless if you’re not seeing the results. It’s easier to make decisions before you have spent the entire budget on something that’s not working.
4. Make yourself heard
Find out who the influential people are in your space and hustle, annoy and pester them. That is until you get a chance to demonstrate why your product is the best. Nothing is better than a personal recommendation regardless of the product or service. Go to events, chat to people and network, network, network!
5. Bring the whole team on the journey
A successful product launch requires commitment and understanding throughout your organisation.
When President Kennedy visited NASA in 1961 he came across a cleaner, and asked him what his job was. The cleaner replied “My Job is to put a man on the moon, Sir”. Now that probably is the greatest launch of all time.
A strong brand will help you win more sales and keep more customers, so spend time on a health check:
1. Is my brand position strong?
Think about what makes your brand unique. How does your brand stack up now and in the future? Why should people care? What your brand stood for in the past may just be that, so have a look at what your competition offers, how they operate and what they do, as well as wider influences and trends.
2. Is my brand clear?
If you are clear about what you stand for and what makes your brand unique, are you clearly communicating it to customers? Be careful of jargon and complicated wording, and be single-minded too – a list of 5 or 6 messages will just lead to confusion, leave the detail for later once you have attention.
3. Does my brand look good?
How current is your look? Think across all your activity, from the logo and identity, to your web site and promotional materials. Are layouts clear? Is your imagery current and clear? Are there elements of consistency? Do fonts work together or look a mess. Brands that look current and relevant feel looked after and worthy of attention, so customers will feel you’ll pay the same attention to them.
4. Does my brand sound good?
All flash looks with not much to say? Ouch. Supporting your central brand promise by what you say and how you behave is critical. Think about how you and your people talk about, sell and service your brand – attention-grabbing looks might get you over a hurdle, but people soon wise up to brands that can’t deliver a promise.
5. Am I my only brand supporter?
Think about who talks about your brand, and where. Is it as much as it used to be? Word of mouth, recommendations, testimonials, social media and news stories will prove it has fans. Prove your brand is worth a look, and maximize every opportunity.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable about two or more of these then it’s time to spend time paying closer attention.