By Sharon A.M. MacLean
This week, I spoke with a business leader considering his post-retirement career, a tech start-up entrepreneur, and a long-time family business owner looking to increase her digital profile.
Each of these individuals had a general idea of who would be attracted to their products and services—if those individuals could find them online. The successful businessman believed others in search of financial advice would want his counsel once he left the corporate world; clients of the family business owner in the construction business increasingly were comparing quotes online; and the tech entrepreneur thought that all charities would love her IT solution for fund development.
The first task for each of these individuals is to get more specific identifying their audience by discovering everything about them. This means age, gender, business title, projected income levels, kids’ names, community involvement, biggest challenges, aspirations, fears and more.
One executive recently pushed back when I asked for these details about his prospective clients. The exec felt the query was too invasive—yet, he could not tell me who, exactly, he wanted to attract to his offering. Here’s a few good reasons for seeking clarity from Mike Koenigs and Pam Hendrickson:
1. Your story will be easier to write. When you understand your audience really well, it becomes much easier to connect with them authentically. It’s more like writing to a friend for whom you have their best interests at heart.
2. You’ll attract more customers. Koenigs/Hendrickson also illustrate an example of how British grocery chain, Tesco, understood that new fathers buy more beer at the store, as opposed to drinking it at pubs with their friends. They mailed new families coupons for beer as well as diapers, resulting in 8-14% redemption rates, as opposed to the 1-2% usually seen with campaigns.
3. You’ll lose that icky “selling” feeling. The way to remove yourself from hard-core selling is to tie your offering to a higher purpose. Think about how your products and services help to alleviate personal stress, build a safer, cleaner community or contribute to a healthier lifestyle, and you will start to meet revenue goals. People who say they don’t like to sell often confuse solving problems with being “pushy.” Helping people to solve problems is the heart of good salesmanship.
Sadly, very few of the clients I talk to don’t record the name of their customers on a marketing list. And, if they have a list, they don’t know much about them. Here are answers that will help you to understand your prospective client. We call it building a persona.
1. Overall group: family business owner
2. Gender: male
3. Education: university degree in arts or business
4. Profession: business owner with 50 employees
5. Gross annual sales: To $50 million
6. Geographic Location: Alberta
7. Family & Lifestyle: 2 kids (24 and 29)
8. Online Activity (where can you find this person): investing and retirement planning blogs, travel sites, sometimes on Facebook, if his wife points out family wedding pictures.
9. Authority or trust figures (what celebrities, authorities do they know, like and trust): Collins Barrows, Richard Branson
What about the flip side?
My friend also spends time working out who she doesn’t want to attract as her “dragon” client, those prospects who breathe fire for many different reasons. She prefers to spend time where she can add value to the lives of her customers and enjoy her day working alongside them.
You know the type of dragon: challenges every idea despite lack of skill and experience, blocks all your energy, sucks up your ideas and claims for themselves, objects to payment for any reason. It’s not worth your time, money and resources. Here’s more ideas to consider when searching for online customers.
1. Avoid distractions. For example, if you’re looking for small business owners with larger size companies, skip the independent massage therapist.
2. Stay focused. If you’re seeking mature business owners for a retirement home in a warm climate, use words that appeal to wise investment and leisure time.
3. Dig deeper. The “Everyone” is my target market just tells me that you haven’t researched your market thoroughly enough. You’re trying to be everything to everybody and you’ll end up reaching nobody.
The latest news is the search engines want quality content—from contributors who can be trusted. It’s your sweet spot: real, credible, authentic people who others trust.