In the last year, I’ve had the good fortune of sharpening my marketing chops with a brilliant team of professionals, all working towards helping business owners improve their marketing ROI. The experience has given me a front row seat into the strategies that consistently propel businesses forward, even — and perhaps especially — during a pandemic.
When it comes to positioning your business to succeed, there are a few tried-and-tested methods that will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. As I reflect on this most unusual year, here are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned.
1. Find your niche by honing in on your ideal customers
“Try to be everything to everyone, and you’ll end up being nothing to nobody” is a business maxim that is too often overlooked. We see it time and time again — business owners trying to market to everyone thinking they’ll broaden their customer base, only to see costs increase and sales diminish.
It may seem counterintuitive at first, but the idea that narrowing your customer base will increase profitability is incredibly powerful…and liberating. It means working with the customers you’re most passionate about — the ones who pay you on time, trust your expertise, rave about your business, and refer you to other business owners. It also means spending less time and money trying to reach customers you wouldn’t want to work with in the first place.
That’s why at Intrigue, the very first step we take when working with a business owner is gaining a crystal clear understanding of who their ideal customer is — what we call their Awesome Client (A-Client). Once an A-Client profile is established, everything else falls into place. We know exactly who to market to and how to reach them, ensuring a steady stream of qualified leads.
How to create an A-Client profile
Start by thinking of your ideal customers. You can think of one person specifically, or a combination of multiple people you’ve worked with. Give them a name and answer the following questions.
Let’s start with the basics:
Consider your ideal customers’ psychographics. It’s not enough to stop at the core characteristics. You need to dig deeper. The more refined you can make your A-Client, the better you can finetune your messaging to appeal to them. Here are some things to consider:
- What are they most interested in?
- What are their beliefs?
- What are their values?
- What are their hobbies?
- What does their family look like?
- What do they do in their free time?
From here you can figure out where to find them and how to reach them. You can create ads and landing pages that are targeted toward them specifically. You can write emails and social posts that describe their lifestyle and appeal to their needs.
At Intrigue, we’ve niched over the last year by offering marketing solutions to business owners in the home service industry. We’ve determined that many of our A-Clients operate in this niche, and that our expertise in working with them gives us a competitive advantage.
This isn’t to say that we turn down business opportunities in other industries. It does mean that our focus on this particular segment allows us to go deeper and attract more business from prospects who resemble our A-Clients. As a result, we’ve become more focused, driven, and profitable than before.
Remember that it’s better to go an inch wide and a mile deep than a mile wide and an inch deep. It will make all the difference.
2. Focus on the problems you fix rather than on the benefits you offer
It’s tempting to think that people buy from us because of the incredible features and benefits we offer. That’s why we’re constantly bombarded with company-centric messages about being “the greatest”, “the best”, “the top”, “the #1”.
The reality is that we are deeply motivated by our own needs, desires, and perhaps most importantly, our pain. In our experience, messaging that emphasizes a customer’s pain points — and offers a compelling solution — consistently comes out on top when A/B testing against company-focused and feature-oriented messaging.
Here is an example of an ad from one of our clients (Gelderman) that is customer-centric, solution-oriented, and addresses their A-client’s greatest pain points.
Questions to answer before writing about your business
- Which customer pain points does your business help alleviate?
- How does your business make life better for your customers?
- How much time and/or money do your customers save thanks to your business?
- How does your business influence others’ perception of your customers?
- Does your business help them look more relevant, credible, important, or effective?
Once you have the answers to these questions, try injecting these ideas into your messaging. Then, run an A/B test against more company-centric, feature-oriented copy to see what happens to your conversion rates.
3. Speak your customers’ language
Often, the messaging you want to convey differs from the messaging that resonates most with your customers. This is natural — you’re so involved in the day-to-day of your own business that it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be in their shoes. We throw jargon, acronyms, and claims that land flat because they don’t reflect how our A-Clients think, feel, or speak.
A prime example of this is a company called Big Ass Fans. As the name suggests, it produces insanely large fans for farms, industrial spaces, commercial warehouses, and the like. Big Ass Fans wasn’t always called Big Ass Fans, though. It used to be called HVLS Fan Company, which stood for High Volume, Low Speed, but their customers didn’t know that. They would continuously call to ask “Are you the ones who make those big ass fans?”, and a new name was born.
Now, you don’t need to rebrand your business and change its name to be more in tune with your customers. You can, however, research how your customers describe your business, extract their key words and phrases, and start incorporating them into your messaging.
How to learn from your customers
Here are a few ideas you can implement to learn more about how your customers think, feel, and speak about your business.
Create a word bank from your customer reviews
Google reviews are a goldmine to learn what your clients are looking for, what their pain points are, and why they bought from you.
Look up your online reviews, open a new spreadsheet, and copy and paste any words and phrases used to describe your business into this spreadsheet. If you’re lacking reviews, look up those of your competitors and extract any words used to describe them. This will produce a powerful word bank you can tap into when describing your business.
Conduct customer interviews
Customer interviews are a great way to gain a better understanding of your A-Clients. Though time-consuming, they can offer invaluable insight into their state of mind when choosing to buy from you. The process also offers an element of personal touch and helps build trusting relationships.
Gather answers from online surveys
Another great way to learn from your customers and identify future business opportunities is by conducting online customer surveys. With platforms like VWO or SurveyMonkey, you can choose from the different types of surveys available, such as multiple option-based surveys, drop-down surveys, and text box-based surveys.
Questions to ask in order to capture your customers’ language:
- What problem has our business been able to fix for you?
- When did you realize you needed a product/service like ours?
- Did you consider any alternatives to working with/buying from us?
- What concerns or hesitations did you have before you decided to buy from/work with us?
To summarize, if you’re looking to stand out in the marketplace, start by defining your ideal customers (your A-Clients), focus on their problems and the solutions you offer, and speak their language. It may seem simplistic, but if you do these three things well, you’ll free up your time, create more clarity for yourself and your team, and lead a more profitable business.
If you would like Intrigue to guide your business through this process, contact us today.