How Aware Are Your Customers?
I am sure you are aware of your customers’ needs and the products and services they offer. If you are not, you should be. Next, ask yourself how aware your customers, clients, and prospects are of the products and services you offer. More importantly, determine how aware you are of how your customers, clients and prospects use your products, services, and skill set, and how they profit from that use.
Awareness is a critical aspect in the development of a new business program. Nevertheless, many of us who create new business programs often assume that the targeted vertical, title, or demographic is aware of who and what we are and what we are offering. Experience indicates that most recipients are not so aware. They look to your communications to assist them in filing away or pigeon holing you and your firm based on an immediate, short-term or long-term need. Your communications should discourage pigeon holing. Differentiation and relevance are and must be a key part of the awareness universe.
A new dawning in the age of printer-based self-promotion has arrived. Printers are brands, not providers, not suppliers and they must begin to act as a brand and market themselves as such!
Think of awareness in the same manner as the proverbial onion. Each layer needs to be peeled back (used) to fully benefit from the wonder of this often-misunderstood vegetable.
How misunderstood is your firm, the services and products you offer? How does this incorrect impression (negatively?) impact your brand and more importantly impact your new business and sales efforts? Based on the concept of brand transformation, the negative impact could be significant. You can see a real-world example in a recent story posted on piworld.com.
There is more to awareness than being aware.
Building awareness may be the starting process to help customers and clients to evaluate your new business, but it does not standalone. Awareness is built upon a foundation of relevance, need, interest, and desire. How you ignite the fire of awareness involves a complex formula, with research of the targeted vertical providing the accelerant. It is no longer acceptable to announce yourself or your firm simply as a printer, nor as a marketing service group, nor as an agency. What you are, and what print has always been, is a valid, proven, profit-based tool offers solutions to the most complex marketing problems posed by todays’ complex, confusing world of marketing and new business development.
Awareness of your business is based first on the impression your potential customers have of you and your firm. They also need to move beyond awareness and toward a relationship (relevance) with your firm, which will require your instilling a high degree of desire, based on their need to utilize your services. Is your messaging consistent along all your lines of marketing based communications? Does you website, direct mail efforts, social media postings, sales messaging and sales/marketing presentations truly, consistently and correctly express your brand and clearly define what you can do, offer and provide to a prospect?
As I stated in my January posting, desire is a powerful emotion, and the term and the full meaning of desire should be a key part of your new business effort.
But what is desire? That is the million-dollar question that I will attempt to answer below.
Desire is a doubled-edge sword!
Desire has two sides — two points of view, what you desire and what your prospect, customer and client’s desire. Most new business promotions I receive from printers talk of their desire to work with me, their targeted demographic. Great! As printer, that may be your desire, and the customers know that. But what would be the basis, the reason, for their having a desire to work with you?
New business programs are based on the need to acquire new clients, and part of the cycle is to identify the needs, desires of the targeted market and speak, speak directly to hose needs and desires.
To answer that question, you need to immerse yourself in the trends of the targeted demographic in order to understand what changes their vertical is undergoing or will undergo. This immersion is not unlike the research you undertake when you are in the process of purchasing a new piece of equipment. You look at each manufacturer from a variety of angles — price, applications, products, benefits, and more. Having worked with all the major equipment manufacturers, I recognize that price does have a major impact but is often not the final point of determination. A combination of the elements is what drives the sale.
To take the parallels a little further. When you are buying equipment, at the same time that you are researching the manufacturers, they are researching you and your history as well as your potential future track. They make themselves more aware of your needs via an aggressive new business sales base effort, with everyone on their sales team, the consultative group, speaking the same language and offering the same messaging. For their effort to be successful, they have to instill desire that will lead to a sale. You need to do the same!
The secret formula is not that secret.
Believe it or not, the solution is not that complex; the secret is not that secret. Yet the print provider often misunderstands the solution. The solution is to shift the discussion, the relevance the awareness platform from you as a printer (offering solutions) to you as a provider of solutions (using print and related services, skills, products, and your experience to increase the profits of the potential client).
Stress as part of your messaging the proven, valid and historically positive ROI and ROR offered by print and the related media associated with print.
The difficult part is to stay the course. A new business program must also consider the buying cycle of the prospect, the buying cycle of the season and the ability of your brand to provide the needed support to continue the marketing, messaging promise you have stated, simply you are there to provide more than a service.
That buying cycle can be a short-term need — seasonal or program based, longer-term needs — the next season or next year — are also part of the selling and, in turn, buying cycle, but so is your desired relationship outcome, do you want a client that is short termed or a long term relationship that is build more on belief, desire, need, then on price.
Lastly, but still a critical, crucial component of your new business plan, is simply the “results challenge.” What is this and how can you develop an internal and external results challenge? More in April.
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.