When we read marketing textbooks and articles on the evolution of marketing we get the impression that most businesses are client-focused and in tune with their client's needs as opposed to creating a product first and then waiting for the clients to arrive. Many people claim to have the answer to business success, yet they fail to focus their business around their clients.
I have a teenage son who is in love. His entire being revolves around impressing his girlfriend. From pumping iron to spending more time behind his books so that he can look buff and smart at the same time. His social schedule revolves around how he can fit in with her, as opposed to the other way round. He has even started running again (so he can visit her more often.)
Imagine we replace him and her with you and your client(s). How successful would your relationship be? Will it last or will it fall apart?
Tony Robbins, business and lifestyle guru write in his '7 Forces of Business Mastery' program the following: "If your business is suffering or if you haven't achieved the level of success you want, it's time to ask yourself: "How do I love my customers more?" Your customer's life is your business life. Get to know them well so you can deliver customer love that keeps them loyal and turns them into raving fans of your company.
To be a disruptor in your field, stop focusing on yourself. Success isn't about falling in love with your products or services – it's about focusing entirely on showing love for your clients. Customer needs change over time and when you love your products or services too much, you won't be flexible enough to change what you offer to fit your market. When you stay flexible, you can turn problems into opportunities and always ensure you know the answer to "How can I love my customers more?"
So how do you turn the ship around? Every business is different and every different business finds itself in different situations, but as a general rule of thumb I do suggest the following:
1. Set time aside
This might seem silly, but it is important to plan the time that you are going to spend on your newfound client-love. If you do not block time out on your calendar, it is not going to happen.
2. Get your ducks in a row
Do you have a database of your current clients? Do you have a database of your prospective clients? It could start as simple as the simplest spreadsheet or it could be in the form of an elaborate CRM system. However you do it, ensure that you have a list of your current and prospective clients.
Once you have the list, it is time to add as much detail as you can.
3. Decide who you want to keep and who you want to chuck
Let's face it; you do not want to keep all your clients! Get a basic understanding of who your ideal client is. Who are the ones that pay your bills? Who are the ones that give you the least amount of sleepless nights? Who are the ones that challenge you in a positive way? Who are the ones that you want to keep in your growing business?
There is a lot of semantics when it comes to target market analysis. Do you start with the demographics, the geographics or the psychographics?
Geographical target market planning is normally the easiest starting point.
Where do your clients stay? If you run a service business is in Johannesburg, you want to target people as close as possible to your point of service in Johannesburg. Once you have saturated your chosen geographical market, you can decide to cast your net wider.
If you are running an online training school, you do however have a much larger area that you can work with.
Demographics analyses are quantitive traits such as age, gender, income levels, educational level, marital or family status, and occupation. If you are selling a miracle cure for wrinkles, you want to focus your marketing attention on women over 45 or if you are marketing luxury holiday destinations you will be focusing your attention on the LSM 10+'s.
Psychographics refers to people's qualitative characteristics. Psychographics focuses on opinions, behaviors, and attitudes. Why do people buy what they are buying? You are not going to be successful in selling products from China to people who are concerned about sustainable living or minimalism. Your Cabanossi is not going to sell to people who believe in 'eating clean'. Unless they really feel like a cheat-day!
4. Ask the right questions
Once you know who your basic target market is, it is time to find out what their PNG's are. This specific acronym does not refer to the popular picture format. In this instance, PNG stands for Pains, Needs & Gains.
What are the pains that they are experiencing from a physical and psychological perspective? What service or product do they need to solve their problem and what gains do they perceive to receive?
|What problems are they trying to solve?|
|It is crucial that you have a thorough understanding of the problems, pains, and frustrations that your ideal customers are seeking to solve. The more you know about these problems and pains, the better.|
|When you know the problems they are trying to solve, you can build your product around solving their problems.|
|What is the depth of their pain and frustration?|
|The bigger the level of pain and frustration around a particular issue, the easier it will become to convince them to buy your product. They need it. And they need it fast.|
|How do these people currently solve their problems?|
|It's important to understand how prospects currently solve their frustration or problem, and what product or service they currently use. How is your product or service better than the current solutions out there? If there is no major difference, you need to find one fast.|
|What value and benefits do you offer these customers?|
|Clients think in terms of the perceived value they will get after buying your product. The phrase 'it's all in the mind' rings true more than ever before. Your marketing materials should communicate all the incredible benefits that the client will get from your product or service. If you do not tell them in very uncertain terms, how will they know?|
5. Listen actively
Create a feedback loop in order to understand how your clients are really feeling about you and your product or service. Communication is one of the biggest obstacles in any relationship. Yes, some people are better at communication than others. If communication is not your thing, employ someone who is great at communication. Talking is good but listening is better. Active listening is in the end the magic ingredient missing in any successful relationship.
6. Map the future
If you know who your client is and you know their PNG's through active listening, you can map your future and stay on top of shifts in the market. If you are tuned into these shifts and act upon them, you will always be leading your competition pack.
7. Easy does it
As with anything in life, sustainable change starts with a change in your habits. Rome was not built in a day, but they did lay at least one brick a day.
If you want to achieve lasting client-love, you want to change your thinking habits, one step at a time. Block out the time, make the effort.
Not everyone will be the-one, but if you find the-one, you want to do everything in your power to keep that flame of client-love burning.
Get to know your client well so you can deliver customer love that keeps them loyal and raving fans.