For questions of marketing strategy, the answers usually begin with the customer.
But what if you’re asking the wrong questions?
Sometimes we’re forced to focus like a laser – on our own problems, objectives and processes. It’s understandable. But it can turn our point of view inward, when we should be focused on the customer.
Here are some inward-looking “we” questions that can lead to the wrong answers, followed by the kinds of questions – about “them,” the customers – that businesses ought to be asking.
“How can we improve sales?”
Do you have satisfied customers who are willing to endorse you? If not, why?
Who exactly are your customers? Are they aware of you? If not, where do they go for information? If they are aware, how do they feel about you? How and where do they like to buy? Why do they decide to buy from others, or not to buy at all? If you sell to businesses, what’s their buying process and who is involved?
“How can we get more traffic on our website?”
How does your website serve customers at different levels of the sales funnel or process?
What information do these customers seek? What customer problems does your content address? You may be able to learn by keyword research, social media monitoring or using A/B testing on landing pages. Or talking with actual customers.
Do your top-level messages focus on benefits to your customers – results they can expect – or do they focus on your product’s features and how it works? (Results are more persuasive than parts or processes.)
“How can we beat our competitors?”
How do your customers feel about your competitors – what’s their relationship like? How can you build a better relationship with your customers than your competitors?
“How can we get a meeting with the decision maker?”
What big problems does he or she face? What are you doing to solve those problems? What information or experience do you have regarding those problems? And how are you presenting it?
“What would make our product really stand out?”
What value do you provide that makes a difference to your customers? Can you demonstrate that value with numbers? With case studies?
“How should we design our trade show booth?”
How can you determine what your customers need to make their trade show visit a success? What will make you stand out from the others in your customers’ eyes?
Are you communicating with your customers before the trade show? After?
“How can we use social media?”
Where do your customers congregate on social media? How do your find and join their communities? How can you make yourself a trusted and valued member of those communities? How can you create relationships, instead of just talking about yourself?
“How can we hire better people?”
What kind of relationship do you have with your customers? What can you do to improve satisfaction among your existing customers? (Good people don’t want to work with unhappy customers.)
“What should our sales brochures say?”
How can you make your sales material strike a chord with your customers? Are your sales brochures all about you, or do they focus on the benefits your customers are looking for?
“How should we talk about our company?”
How can you put your customers’ needs and concerns at the center of your company’s story and purpose?
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Marketing works best when it focuses on customers and their problems.
It seems self evident. But it’s easy to get off track. Do you agree? How do you keep your business focus where it belongs – on your customers?