Customers are the bread and butter of any business. They make up your market.
Whether you’re involved in business-to business or business-to-consumer (B2B or B2C) sales, you have products or provide a service tailored for a specific market. Without a market, there won’t–can’t–be a business. You use marketing and advertising to inform your customers that you have products that can provide them with what they want, and help them with what they need.
Customers buy things to fulfill a need. Customers buy thing they believe will give them what they need, or help them get what they want. Customers want value. If they believe your product doesn’t have that, they won’t give it another thought, and move on. How do you tell them that your product has that value?
You communicate it to them.
Marketing and advertising influences the perceived value of things. Think about the all-important Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which uses, well, a unique selling point to hook people’s attention in and get them to buy into the product with that USP. You can check out well-known examples in the articles below.
- 10 Examples of Killer Unique Selling Propositions on the Web (Corbett Barr, Fizzle)
- 5 Examples of Unique Selling Propositions (Wendy Connick, NASP)
- Famous USP & Advertising Slogan Examples (Paul Simister, BusinessCoaching)
As an example, think of the booming exercise and diet industry. Remember the many promises, guarantees and statements you’ve ever witnessed in commercials, whether in print or video. Think of home TV shopping and all their infomercials, and the many sales spiels you’ve heard. That should drive the point home.
Marketing is reaching out to your customers and informing your market of the value of what your business provides. That’s it. That’s the goal.
Whether it’s services or products, regardless of the platform you use to connect to them, that’s the goal.
To get back to our example, home TV shopping segments may come across as hard-selling to you, but they certainly know how to put the product benefits forward for the viewers, right?
And get this: QVC and HSN, the two biggest home shopping channels, have been running since 1985 and 1986, respectively. Any business that survives and lasted for the past thirty years and successfully adapted to the massive industry changes brought about by the internet knows how to reach out to its customers.
What about you? How do you communicate with your market?
You reach out to your customers where they are. You go after them. You adjust the message to the medium. You go where they are.
Where you find them flocking affects how you send them your messages. Facebook, Twitter, through your website, ads, YouTube, Pinterest…. the messages you use to communicate with your market can vary, but they essentially say the same thing. “Hey, we know you’ve been struggling with an issue, and we’ve got just the thing. Here’s how it can help you, and here’s where you can find and get it.”
Just a few decades ago all we have was radio and newspapers. Then television came. The methods changed but the principle remains the same:
- Identify your market. Get to understand their most pressing concerns and come up with a solution to those concerns.
- Show them you understand they have something they want solved, whether it’s a need or an issue.
- Show them you can help them with that. Tell them about your product, tell them how it helps them get what they want.
Now, the internet has changed things up again and people are more and more vocal on both sides of the table, the marketers, and the marketed-to. For the relationship to remain strong, both sides need to listen to what the other is saying, but only one side can change their mind and take their business elsewhere.
That’s why it’s vital that businesses have to listen better. For communication to work, it has to be a two-way connection.
Being tone-deaf to customer concerns, or turning a blind-eye to customer complaints is bad communications. Businesses that are responsive to their customer’s need get more business. Agility and responsiveness is important in communicating with your customers.
Why would anyone stay with someone who doesn’t listen and doesn’t seem to care about their concerns? Listening well is part of any good relationship, and you need that skill to build strong relationships with your customers. It’s that basic, and hard to do well, but it must be done.
See, communication is sharing. You share your efforts to help improve the lives of your customers with good quality products, and you bolster that effort with striving for customer satisfaction. You show them you value them by giving good products and supporting those. And you show them you value their concerns by listening to them.
You build a trustworthy, reliable reputation, more customers will come to trust you, you strive for better customer satisfaction… the feedback loop continues. It’s a recipe for a healthy relationship for everyone involved, and helps your business thrive.
Important areas to consider on communication:
- Listen to what people say about your business, your services and your products. This is free information you can use to make improvements and see things you may have overlook or never thought of from your side of the business.
- Go out and ask. Solicit feedback. Social media can be the boon and bane of businesses, depending on deftly how the social platform is used, but it is still a powerful and far-reaching tool. You can use email surveys and polls, if that’s more fitting for your needs, but you still need to ask what you can do better, what they to see more of, etc.
- Depending on your bandwidth or your marketing team’s bandwidth, you concentrate on the platforms you use the best and works best with your market.
Using all available social media platforms is not a good idea. It can waste resources that can be spent on better, higher value areas. Visually-oriented platforms like Pinterest and Instagram work with a different subset audience, and are a good fit for, say a business that sells graphic arts t-shirts or handicrafts, the better to showcase the products. Bloggers and writers reach people who prefer to absorb new information through reading, and so on.
Financial acumen is necessary in keeping a business running steadily, but you must also keep the human element in mind. You are a person selling something to other people. Listen. Talk. Keep the communication lines open.
Important things to consider connected to your business:
In the simplest terms, you are a person helped by other people so you can do the things you are intent on accomplishing. Your business relationships? They include people too, behind the roles of accountant, or supplier, or lawyer, or programmer, etc. And if you’ve grown your business to the point where you have employees, well, yes, they’re still people.
You need to listen and communicate well with them too, because they help you do your thing. They’re part of the team, and need to find value too. That’s part of the healthy relationships that also contribute to your success: you ask, you listen, and you share value.
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