Did you ever buy a big ticket item, like a house or a car or a boat, and you just loved the sales person?
Come on, admit it. There had to be at least one.
I did. I had an awesome real estate agent, and my wife and I thought he walked on water. He took an interest in us, knew about our family situation and how much buying a new house meant to us, and did real special things that he knew we’d like.
I tried to figure out why we liked him so much. I tried to put my finger on it. And then it dawned on me: he just seemed to know us.
He knew what our hot buttons were and how to hit them. He just knew what we wanted.
In content marketing, you’ve got to really know what your customers want if you want them to love you
In the book Get Content Get Customers, authors Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett say that for your content to be successful, it has to be essential to your readers. In other words, you have to deliver content that helps your customer succeed in her daily life.
Essential is a pretty strong word: it hits at what makes your customers tick – what your customers really want.
But to know what is essential to your customers, you’ve got know who your ideal customer is.
Your ideal target customer
In his report The Brain Audit, marketer Sean D’Souza talks about how your buyer’s brain works. D’Souza says one of the main ways to decode how to make your customers buy is to really get their target profile down.
Many marketers like to develop a persona, an imaginary person that has a particular job, title, responsibilities, needs, wants, marital status, amount of kids, etc.
Not D’Souza – he says you should focus on one person. One real person.
And his examples are compelling. The Body Shop targeted women who wanted make-up that wasn’t tested on animals.
Why would they target this very small sub-set of women? Wouldn’t that cut off a huge potential market segment?
Not at all. The Body Shop became a multi-million dollar corporation that got acquired by L’Oreal for a tidy sum. All because they focused on a particular target profile, women who wanted make-up without harming animals. And by focusing on this profile, they got right at their heart-felt beliefs. The Body Shops’ customers are hopelessly devoted to them because of it.
Google started out by targeting people who wanted a clean, uncluttered interface. Another seemingly limiting target profile. This was at a time when Yahoo! and Alta Vista were the most popular search engines. Suicidal move?
By targeting people who were tired of all the clutter and banner ads of the other search engines, Google became the world’s largest and most successful search engine. And despite the thousands of services Google offers, they are still devoted to their ideal customers’ desire for a clean interface. And customers love them for it.
Creating your target profile
To find out who that one person is that you’re going to target with your content, do as D’Souza suggests:
Step 1: Start with a demographic
Step 2: Choose a real person from that demographic
Step 3: Speak to that person and find out their list of problems (as it relates to your company’s products/services)
Step 4: Choose one problem then expand on it
Step 5: Use a real person to get feedback
To get that real feedback, interview your customers
Make a list of your 10-20 happiest customers (if you already have customers), or find 10-20 prospective customers in your target market (if your company or product is new) and set up a series of interviews.
Its probably best to interview them in person, but if you can’t meet them in person interviewing them by phone is fine.
I like to use a digital recording device that also has an earpiece you can use for the phone. Make sure to get permission to record them before you do.
Ask the following questions:
If you have current customers:
- How did you find out about our company?
- Why did you decide to acquire our product?
- What was happening in your business before you acquired our product?
- What are some of the improvements you’ve seen after acquiring our product?
- What are the top 3 things you liked about our product?
- Out of these top 3 things, what ‘s the one aspect about our product that you can’t do without?
- What do you not like about our product?
When you don’t have customers yet
If you don’t have any customers yet, ask specific questions related the problems your product or service solves. So for example, you can imagine what the inventors of the first word processor could have asked potential customers:
- How often do you write?
- Do you write freehand or using a typewriter?
- Being a typewriter user, how fast do you type?
- Do you make a lot of type-os?
- How often do you have to tear out the paper and start again with a fresh new sheet of paper?
- If you didn’t have to do that, do you think you’d write more?
- As somebody who writes using freehand, do you have lots of notebooks lying around your house?
- Do you ever find it hard to find in which notebook you wrote that poem about your dog and your cat?
- As a business owner, do you wish that more people would write their own reports?
- Is it expensive and time-consuming to have several secretaries writing up sales letters for all your sales people?
- How much do you spend in typewriter ribbon?
I could go on and on, but I think you can see the line of questioning here.
But how do you get from just a plain old target profile, to a target profile whose passions, needs, goals and concerns you are intimately familiar with?
You want to hit a nerve with your customers
Your purpose in questioning both current customers or potential customers is to get your questions answered.
But it’s also to hit a nerve with your customer. If a line of questioning starts to generate an emotional response, then go with the flow.
Getting an emotional response is what you want, and leads to the concerns that are important to your potential or current customers. Then you can start to really devote yourself with religious zeal to helping your customers solve the problems that hit their nerves.
And your customers will love you for it.
Ultimately, you want your customer to love you
But only because you showed your customer that you loved them first.
Just like my real estate agent, you need to know who your ideal customer is, and you need to know what their big concerns are, and what their ultimate goals are. Focus on your customer, and talk to them from a a position of intimate knowledge.
You know what you’ll get in return.
About the author: Fernando Labastida, the current blog editor for the Austin AMA, has been involved in sales and marketing for almost 20 years. He has carried a bag as an account executive for start-up and established software companies, and he has led marketing efforts in the U.S. and Latin America. He specializes in content marketing and copywriting, and is the principal of marketing firm Content for Quotas.