Ideally, you want not just customers, but fans. You want your business name to be passed around via word-of-mouth without you having to do any work. How do you find customers? How do you turn them into fans?
The first step is creating a marketing strategy. The key to an effective strategic marketing plan is answering the following:
- WHO is your desired customer? The more specific you can be, the more you can tailor your marketing message to them.
- WHAT customer problem do you solve? The problem is from the perspective (and language) of the desired customer.
- HOW do you solve it? Here’s where you identify how your product or service solves the customer’s problem.
- WHY you’re the best to solve it? Why should the customer trust that you have the right solution for them?
- WHEN you can provide the solution? Will your customer have to wait for the solution or can they start solving their problems today?
Next, implement the strategy. The strategy should inform all your marketing actions (“branding”) – everything from your emails, to your websites, brochures, advertisements, and even phone message.
Cherish your unhappy customers. If a customer (or prospect) is unhappy about your business or service and contacts you, you have the makings of a great fan. If someone is unhappy, realize they could simply complain to others and you would likely never hear about it. Thank them for their complaint and take care of their problem as best you can. Everyone says they give great service – give it when it’s hard and you’ve got satisfaction, and the start of a great story – and a new fan who’ll spread your story to their network.
Create a dialog with all of your customers. Most businesses make the mistake of trying to sell all the time. Instead, find out what people like (and don’t like) about your business. If you want to know what they think – ask. And sincerely regularly converse with your customers – you never know where your next referral will come from.
Let’s work through a marketing strategy for Jane, a massage therapist. Jane specializes in cranial sacral therapy.
WHO? Jane works on active adults in her home town.
WHAT? She could focus on stressed adults. Or adults in pain. Or adults who strained their muscles doing their favorite sport. Or adults whose range of motion is limited. Or people who sit too long in front of their computer. She isn’t looking for adults who want massage – she’s focusing on her clients’ problem. Because of her specialty, she targets athletic adults who have overdid it.
HOW? Jane uses cranial sacral therapy, which is a gentle treatment that attempts to restore the natural movement between the bones of the skull. While that’s interesting, that doesn’t address the WHAT. What does an athletic adult in discomfort want? Relief from pain? Better sport ergonomics? Pain is the key motivator, but there are lots of therapies that address pain relief. By getting the body more into alignment, the natural motions that cranial sacral focus on will get the body moving efficiently. Jane’s gentle technique of athletic pain relief and natural healing respond to the athletic adult’s need.
WHY? Jane has been studying this advanced form of therapy for five years. Before that, she studied a number of other massage techniques, but wanted to help people not simply feel good, but feel better. Jane’s advanced training and personal belief in cranial sacral answers the why.
WHEN? The customer can call or email for an appointment. She sees people after normal work hours, so people can get a treatment before their next training opportunity. She might even provide online bookings on her website.