When I meet potential customers, they are frequently running 1-2 marketing or PR strategies and they "would love to re-do” their website. They've often also been sold marketing services that were appropriate for someone at sometime, but aren't appropriate for them right now.
They're now faced with multiple new marketing strategies to take on and it doesn't feel good - partly because they've already spent money in the wrong place before, and partly because they can't determine where they need to spend more money now (but still feel it's inevitable and necessary). It's unfortunate and I understand completely.
Although you came here wanting help determining which marketing strategy to start next - I'm going to provide something different: a process to go deeper into your customer's psyche.
Who is your customer? Even seasoned business owners can miss the power of subtly fine-tuning your customer profile. Clarity on who you serve best and power to serve them well come when you understand the context of your customer's pain points, their extended circle of co-decision makers, their demographics, and their psychographics.
I want to help you thoroughly explore the unconscious relationship you have with the customers you love the most - that neither you nor they are likely aware of.
This exercise WILL help you answer your marketing question, so stick with me.
Jump ahead and download my FREE PDF on the "10 Questions You Want to Answer About Your Customer" below.
Let me share a story to explain this process.
My client, Family Friendly Schools, recently got crystal clear on her customer and this altered her entire business, product development, and marketing strategy.
When I met Dr. Joni Samples, she’d been operating FFS for ten years, and had been in the education industry for another 30. She’d been a county-level superintendent, celebrated author and public speaker, and started her career as a Special Education teacher. Joni knows schools. And teaching. And teachers. And families. She’s an expert - at almost everything.
When I started working with Joni, her marketing strategy was to reach all schools. There was no distinction in the language she used or the strategy she pursued - which type of school, what size, what demographics. Just all of them. They could all use what she had to offer!
But there’s a difference between being able to serve all schools, and serving the schools that REALLY need what she has - her ideal customer.
I liken it to the difference between using a shotgun and a sniper rifle.
An ideal customer is a customer who
- is a hell yes! to your product or service,
- has authority to implement and make decisions within the organization or household, and
- has money or the budget to spend on what you offer.
Talking all day with a first level manager with no purchasing power won’t help you win new business - that person is not an ideal customer. Speaking with someone with money in the bank but little interest in what you provide will also bring dismal results.
Even working with someone who is excited, has money, and doesn't have the resources or willpower to follow-through and implement what they're learning is disappointing to me in my own business.
*Sometimes, this “ideal customer” is a collection of people - different related people within an organization and in that case you’ll want to know all of them independently and the collective organization profile, too.*
My suggestion? Give up the idea that you serve everyone in your industry (because you don’t). Or that your book or course can help everyone.
Not everyone is interested in what you provide. Not everyone has the money to pay for your product or services. Not everyone has the authority or ability to implement your suggestions and help.
When you really pause and think about it, that's true right? It's also true that some people are a YES to all three criteria, and we want to get to know them better.
Once Family Friendly Schools got clarity on their customer (public and charter elementary and middle schools receiving Title I funding grants), it changed our entire messaging and brand on the website and we continue to let this audience alter her marketing strategy.
We no longer had to reach ALL schools, parents, or teachers - that would be impossible! We only had to reach those people in schools with authority, money, and a hell yes (a Title I Program Manager, or a Family Engagement Coordinator). That's about 500-1000 people across the entire nation, and these ideal customers in turn reach several million teachers and parents.
Joni’s work will still get “out there”, we just don’t have to scramble with a shotgun anymore. We can be snipers, selectively engaging organizations who are more naturally ready for her services.
We also learned that this targeted audience really needed the basics around her curriculum, not the advanced levels to education she could provide - so understanding the customer altered her product development and we scrapped plans to develop 4 advanced online courses. This, again, changed our marketing strategy so we spend much more time explaining simple questions on the blog and her newsletter.
The more we understand our ideal customer (a hell yes, authority to implement, money to pay) and listen when they tell us what they want and need - the more exact each movement & decision we make becomes.
To answer the question we started with, when you’re facing options in your marketing, PR, and communications strategy - the best place to start is to fine tune your customer profile.
Let the customer lead, and consider you don’t know him or her as well as you could.
Want to know the "10 Questions to Answer About Your Customer" before starting any marketing strategy or product development? Click below to download.
Pssst… Do you know why I say I build websites? Because that’s what people are searching for when we meet. I hear business owners say they "need a new website" every day.
No one says “I want to understand my customer better”, “I want to elegantly blend my complex customer and product”, so I don’t say I’m a customer expert or anything (silly) like that.
That’s the impact of knowing your customer. You know what to say - even if you provide something they don’t think they know they need yet.
What pieces of information do you like to know about your customer and how do they help you in your business? Let me know in the comments below!