by Jessica Dewell
As personal usage of the Internet is changing, business practices are also transforming.
Before, the product (inclusive of the item being sold) was the focus. A clear message of the product, combined with a website optimized for specific key words, helped in connecting to the right group of people. Those individuals then decided if the offering matched their needs.
While the product still is important – without it, we wouldn’t be in business – today the focus shifts toward the customer. Now more than ever customers are choosing where to shop based on the experience of interacting (or lack thereof) – not on the merits of the product alone. How does one sell a product today?
Know your customer first.
WHO the product serves is as important as the product itself.
Building a product to sell while you sleep makes smart business sense. Adding a dimension of transparency and availability is what will set you apart.
1. Build Character Customer Profiles.
Beyond demographics and sociographics, there is a psychology inherent in the way we act and react. Creating a composite person combining traits for a specific target market segment is just the beginning:
2. Use Character Customer Profiles to determine what social networks to frequent today.
Another aspect of understanding core client groups is recognizing when they are online and receptive to receiving information from you. People also want to receive messages that inspire and influence, and will further share such communications with others. (Hint: sharing only promotions and product information does not facilitate conversation.)
3. Set up listening posts.
Sometimes listening and responding creates a stronger bond than connecting over a common interest. People like to be heard. We like help solving our problems. Broadcasting a question online presents an opportunity for you to reach out with an answer. When paying attention, choose topics offering an opportunity to become known, to provide valuable information while creating connections.
4. Test marketing messages for relevance and response.
Pursue immediate feedback on how well patrons receive the intended message to hone specific exchanges; effective Character Customers represent a market segment. Speak, write, talk to groups independently, tailoring your elevator pitch to the particular recipient’s expectations (as in real life).
Yes, you will say the same thing many different ways; doing so ensures your presence when each individual within each market segment is ready to hear about the product.
5. Be different.
The crowds you seek out to build a healthy business rely on being heard. Taking the time to identify people and respond (at the proper time) to their needs puts you ahead of the curve functionally. How a business prepares, packages, and delivers messaging is what sets the product apart. Use Character Customers combined with competitive analysis to create a strong presence online.
An impossible task? No. Difficult to accomplish? Yes.
Hard work requires a brain shift – basically, it is thinking about a process in which incrementally-small actions bring massive results. This effort creates an ideal environment to stay in tune with Character Customers and update them as needed, look at macro and micro changes in their worlds, and illustrate how to stay continually connected to clients before, during, and after the purchase.
About the Author: Jess Dewell is an online purposer (think marketing strategy consultant . . . but more organic and customer-centric) and founder/owner of Red Direction.
Having spent her entire career online, Jess Dewell is a purposer who is passionate about accurately articulating a company’s story. Through Red Direction, Jess helps small businesses shape and expand their existing marketing to form lasting customer connections and realize concrete, long-term results. Jess is online at reddirection!