Your customers don’t care about your business. They care about themselves.
- Do your marketing messages take this fact into account? Do they talk about your company and its products? Or do they talk about your customers’ problems and desires – like they should?
- Are your customer-service people sensitive to your customers’ needs? Do they see themselves as problem solvers, or just data-entry clerks?
- Do your salespeople ask thoughtful, probing questions? Do they listen to what your customers are telling them? Do they see themselves as problem solvers, or product-pushers?
- Do your top executives buy into this outward focus? Do they understand that the reason the company exists is to serve your customers? Do they teach this to their employees?
- What’s the most common pronoun used by anyone in your company who interacts with customers? Is it “I,” or “you?”
A small portion of your customer base is giving you the majority of your profits.
- Who are the big spenders in your customer base?
- Do you communicate with them separately from the rest of your customers?
- Do you communicate with them more often?
- Do they know how much you value their patronage?
- Have you given them a chance to improve their status to VIP customer?
- When you look for new customers, are you targeting these big spenders?
Understand why your customers buy from you.
- Customers buy for two reasons: to feel good about themselves, or to solve a problem.
- Are your marketing efforts focusing on these reasons? Going to Disneyland, buying the iPad, and getting a new dalmatian are feel-good purchases. Buying a shovel, dishwashing soap, or band-aids are problem-solving purchases.
- If you sell feel-good products, make sure your ads make prospects believe they’ll feel better after they buy them.
- If you sell problem-solving products, express the value of your solutions in terms of dollars. For instance, if you’re selling energy-efficient light bulbs for 4 dollars each, make sure your ads point out that customers will save 36 dollars in electricity costs over the life of the bulb.
Almost every sales transaction begins with the process of generating leads.
- Lead-generation can be done in many ways, but the most effective is with direct marketing.
- If you don’t use direct-marketing to generate leads, you’re missing a great opportunity.
Learn multi-channel marketing.
- Single-channel marketing is good for starting up, but it’s not enough to get through the later stages of business growth.
- Every business can use at least three separate sales and marketing media to generate leads.
- Among those available are direct mail, direct email, radio, TV, magazines, and newspapers.
Treat your customers the way you want to be treated.
- Think of, speak to, and treat your customers the way you’d like to be thought of, spoken about, and treated.
Understand the secret of the Four-Legged-Stool.
- Every great marketing campaign has four elements. If you address all four in every promotion, your results will be rock-solid.
- The first element is the Big Idea: Each ad should have one engaging idea, rather than half a dozen.
- The second element is the Big Benefit: Your customers are interested in their own wants, needs, and problems – not in your company. Make sure your customer stays at the center of attention in all your marketing and sales efforts. Express your product’s features in terms of benefits, including one Big Benefit, and how they’ll benefit your customer.
- The third element is the Big Promise: In each sales pitch, a Big Promise should be stated. It should be a succinct and compelling projection of the Big Idea and the Big Benefit, combined into one.
- The fourth element is the Proof: Throughout your advertising efforts, you’ll be making specific claims about product quality and performance. Make sure that every claim is backed up by proof. Claims and proof don’t sell products (promise and benefit do), but claims and proof let customers who have already made an emotional decision to buy a product to rationalize that decision.
Realize that customer complaints and objections are the key to better selling.
- Average businesspeople hate complaints and objections, because they feel like they’re being criticized.
- The best businesspeople know that complaints and objections help create better products and stronger sales pitches.
Keep a “no dead end” policy regarding your products.
- Each sale should lead to another chance for you to satisfy a customer’s desire.
- Find out where your customers are after making a specific purchase. Then figure out what they might want to buy at that time, and sell it to them.
Take advantage of customer inertia.
- Create a “bill-till-forbid” relationship with your customers, such as Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program.
- Understand that lethargy and apathy are the main reasons why customers stop buying.
- By making additional purchases automatic, you can double the profits of your business.
Understand the 80/20 Rule.
- Apply the Pareto Principle to your marketing strategy. Since 20 percent of your customers will give you 80 percent of your profits, treat them like the VIP’s they are.
- Big spenders know they’re big spenders. When you don’t treat them like the VIP’s they are, they become disappointed with your company.
Understand the unique selling proposition (USP) of all your products.
- Before launching a product, ask, “How will this be different and better than the other products out there? And is that quality meaningful to the customer?”
- Also ask, “Is that quality something that people care about today? Or is it no longer valued?”
- Having a USP isn’t enough – it also must be desirable. Make sure all your products have a desirable USP, then promote it heavily.
- Make sure that when your customers think of the product, they think of that USP.
Every product line needs its own branding.
- Know how each of your product lines differs from the competition. Translate that difference into a benefit, and market that benefit as a brand.
Never lose your marketing edge.
- As your business grows, you’ll find that many sales and marketing efforts go on simply because they’ve been going on for many years. Ask yourself whether or not they’re still profitable.
Understand the secret of the Core Complex.
- To create breakthrough marketing campaigns, you must be in touch with your customers’ core worries and desires.
- What looks like a desire for luxury on the outside may really be a fear of embarrassment on the inside.
- Think of your customer’s personality as an onion. To truly understand what’s going on in his heart, you need to peel back many layers.
Practice reciprocity with your customers.
- The best way to establish a long-term, profitable relationship is to give your customers something valuable for free.
- By giving before you get, you show your customers that they’re safe doing business with you.
- Once you’ve given, make sure you get something in return. This is the fundamental ethic of a commercial transaction.
Understand that intimacy is the key to a customer’s lifetime value to your business.
- Consistently speak to your customers about what they’re interested in.
- Make your business transparent. Let your customers know what products you’re creating, which ones are popular, and which ones aren’t.
- Always be honest with them in your communications. They’ll appreciate it if you do, and know if you don’t.
Be confident and enthusiastic when you sell.
- Never be afraid to make a sales pitch. Great home-run hitters rarely hit a home-run more than once out of every three times at bat. And they never, ever get a hit when they don’t swing.
Don’t push your customers.
- Hardcore selling tactics are weak because they rely on bullying, which creates imbalanced relationships.
- By developing a benefit-oriented marketing strategy that prequalifies customers before you sell to them, you’ll eliminate 80 percent of the hassle of selling and assure yourself a steadily growing business.
Nurture a marketing culture that emphasizes three approaches.
- First, make sure that providing benefits to your customers is at the heart of all product development.
- Second, teach your employees that providing value should be at the heart of all sales transactions.
- Third, put sincerity at the heart of all communications with your customers.
For more marketing lessons that will lead to more sales, check out Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson.