Many businesses have trouble understanding how and where to look for new customers. The difference between mediocre marketing and exceptional marketing is based on how well businesses understand their customers, and the forces that drive them to make purchases.
It’s important to take a step back and develop a clear understanding of what customers are actually paying for. In most professions there are tens of businesses that all provide a very similar product or service. Why then are some businesses so much more successful than others? There are thousands of factors that play into successful marketing but one of the most important and most frequently misunderstood is what the real value proposition is.
I’m going to use the foundation repair niche as an example. I live in Winnipeg, and we experience a lot of ground shifting here, so foundation repair is a fairly big industry. Let’s make a few basic customer profiles of people that may be interested in foundation repair.
- George is 32 years old and has two children both under the age of five. The basement of his house was finished 40 years ago with indoor outdoor carpeting and gets seepage along one wall every spring. He’s been planning to renovate it himself ever since he moved in, but he’s hesitant to put in drywall or nice carpeting knowing they’ll probably get ruined by the seepage. He’s considering hiring a foundation repair company to fix the underlying problem.
- Janelle is a 72 year old widow, and has lived in the same house for the past 30 years. She’s planning on moving into a condominium, but she knows it’s going to be difficult to sell her house because it is severely slanted to one side. She suspects that there is a major crack in one of her foundation walls, and she’s willing to pay whatever it costs to fix as long as it will get her a good return on investment when she sells her home.
Both of these potential customers are considering buying foundation repair services, yet each one is paying for a completely different value proposition.
George is really buying protection for the investment that he’s going to put into his basement. He’s buying a place for his children to play which will result in him and his wife being able to have dinner guests and play a game after supper with no interruptions.
Janelle is really buying some extra money to live on in her retirement, or maybe a nicer condo that she can only afford if she gets a reasonable price for the house.
George is trying to save on costs but at the same time he’s planning on staying in the house for at least 10 years, and it’s important to him that the job is done properly, and there will be no leaks in the future. Janelle on the other hand wants to hire a company that knows about the housing market and can tell her what amount of investment she should put into her house to get the maximum return on her money. It’s also important to Janelle that the job can be completed in a short time frame so she can sell during the summer months.
Using customer profiles can really help to understand where to find potential customers and how to appeal to them.
It’s important to differentiate between advertising channels and customer profiles. I often ask my clients “where do you think is the best place to find your customers online?” The answers I usually get are Facebook, Google, Youtube etc. These are the channels used to find people, but customer profiling is necessary to find ideal customers within these channels.
Unfortunately most people that need foundation repair aren’t going to go on Facebook and like foundation repair pages and join foundation repair groups. Customer profiling is used to determine what pages different target customers are liking, what groups they are a part of and what words they are searching for in Google.
Of course some customers do know exactly what they want, they’re ready to buy, and they will go onto Google and type in the exact search term they are looking for such as “Winnipeg foundation repair company.” These are the people that are at the research and buying phases of the customer decision making process. The truth is this is an incredibly valuable segment to target, and many of my SEO clients are making massive returns from only targeting these buyer keywords, so I’m definitely not saying not to do this. What I am saying is that by only doing this you’re leaving a large number of clients on the table.
Thanks to the forms of targeting and tracking available with internet marketing it is possible to target the Georges and the Janelle’s in completely different ways. They can be shown different advertisements, different value propositions, different landing pages and different calls to action.
With well segmented target markets and marketing campaigns, while all of your competitors are fighting over being the best and the cheapest, you can go in and be the perfect fit for George by being thorough and high quality, while at the same time being the perfect fit for Janelle by being knowledgeable about real estate value and helping her maximize her return on investment. People are always willing to pay more for a specialist than a generalist, but up until recently businesses that wanted to specialize were forced to commit to one or two specialties. Now it’s possible to specialize to each market segment and be the custom solution for every customer profile.