By Dan Bates
Business Marketing Alliance
As an independent consultant I’ve been marketing other people’s businesses, developing conceptual marketing plans and assisting with business images for over 12 years now. Many businesses, especially those run by entrepreneurs, decide to take on developing their own marketing strategies and business image, if they even know what a business image is or all that it entails. In my opinion this is usually a mistake, but if you are one of those “A” types who insists on doing it yourself let me share with you at least one of the most common mistakes that are made.
You must recognize and evaluate the most basic philosophy behind your business or service. Why does it exist? What is the value it offers your clientele? How does it measure up to the competition in the same arena? These sound like the most basic of questions and you might think you know the answers to all of these questions, but unless you can answer them instantly you have not really thought it through. Being able to answer these questions will give you the basis you need that leads to identifying your business image and being able to tweak your approach in the market place that ideally matches your potential customers.
Often I see business owners get so caught up in how they perceive their businesses that they miss the most important perception, that of your current and potential customers. What does your customer really care about? What are their needs as it applies to the product or service you have to offer? It really doesn’t matter what you think is important, it only matters what they (the customer) feels is important. For instance, I have seen businesses go to great lengths to explain in an advertising campaign the technicalities of how they provide the service they do, when maybe the customer only cares about the final result as it applies to them. They may not care about all the details that are required to deliver that product or service, they just want it to do what it is supposed to do, guaranteed, then move on.
If you focus on details that do not address your prospect’s issues or concerns they will not be drawn in to your marketing message. The most important detail that you need to communicate is: Why should I spend my money on your product or service? How does it specifically solve my problem? If I hire you or purchase your product or service, how will I benefit? How will I be impacted, pure and simple?
Most customers couldn’t care less about all the steps, challenges or technical jargon you could bestow upon them as an insider. It’s like when you buy a car, you want it to meet your needs, get you from point A to point B, address your safety concerns, your efficiency needs and evoke a certain image that is important to you. Do you really care about the technicalities of how it starts when you turn the key? You just expect it to perform at a certain level and meet the needs that you require in a vehicle.
It’s just like my computer, when I shop for a new laptop, I have certain requirements that I need to be addressed. I expect it to do what I need it to do when I turn it on. When a salesman approaches me and starts on all the technical jargon and how it specifically works I tune out. Just like I don’t care about a lengthy explanation of why it stops working, just make it work or tell me I need to replace it.
So as a business owner or entrepreneur …forget about what you think is important, talk about what your customer thinks is important, what drives them to a decision? What needs or frustrations do they have that you can solve? I refer to this as looking at your business through your customer’s eyes. This is a skill and it is very difficult to do if you are emotionally involved in your business. What businesses owner is not so tied-in that it would be difficult to detach and shut down your emotions to do a thorough and un-biased evaluation? Remember, evaluate the competition, know your strengths and weaknesses look at your business through your customer’s eyes, keep an open mind to evaluate without prejudice, formulate key selling points to form the basis of your marketing strategy.
About the Author: Dan Bates –
Founder of Business Marketing Alliance and Administrator for Building Blocks in Bucks County. Dan is well respected and highly recognized in the marketing and purchasing having consulted for well-known corporations such as Bloomingdales, Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden and Revlon International. He has also developed a reputation as the go-to-guy for many non-profit and human services organizations in need of marketing, outreach assistance or just making effective connections. Recognizing a need for role models and mentors for high school students, Dan formed the Student Mentoring Program in partnership with the Morrisville School District and 21st Century Learning Centers, Bristol Township School District and The Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce.
Dan has received many forms of recognition for his work both professional and through volunteerism. Recipient of the Felicia A. Gibbons Award for his outstanding commitment to the health, safety and quality of life of the Youth and Children in Bucks County, The Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnership Award for making a significant contribution to connect education and business, The Theodore L. Mitchel Award for outstanding commitment and dedicated service to the Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce and is a well-known guest speaker on marketing and related issues. He has also facilitated numerous non-profit organizations through strategic and reorganizational processes, including most recently the Ivins Outreach Center.