It’s all about getting chosen. And when customers aren’t choosing you, running a business seems more like a drag than a dream.
If your sales aren’t at the level you wish they were, then your ideal customer isn’t choosing you. Here are five big reasons why, and what to do about them.
1. You are targeting too broad an audience
Saying that “everyone” is your customer actually reduces the number of customers who are interested in your product. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. Which would you rather buy for your once in a lifetime ski vacation: generic sunglasses off the shelf or $200 sunglasses with snow-glare eliminating lenses? I’m not an expert on sunglasses, but I’m willing to bet that there isn’t a $180 difference in cost or features between the regular $20 sunglasses at the retail store and the $200 sunglasses at the specialty ski shop. The profitable difference is in the specific needs and wants of the skiing enthusiast.
A quick and easy way to find a market niche is to use Google’s keyword tool. Simply enter the broad keyword first and then look and see what other specific segments appear that you might be missing. If you’re selling dog collars, you might decide to focus on personalized dog collars, for example.
If you’re selling widgets that can be used in broad applications, start by singling out each application and start listing the features and benefits of your widget for that specific application. Even though the features will be the same, when you put your focus on the application, you’ll start to see subtle, but important differences emerge that can make a huge impact on your sales. Then choose the application or the audience that sees the greatest value in your product or service, and focus solely on them.
2. You're targeting the wrong audience
This can be tricky, especially if you have competitors that look like they are successfully selling the exact same thing as you are. Market research is the tool you’ll want to reach for in this situation. The research you’ll do depends on the circumstance.
If you already have a handful of happy, profitable customers, then you will want to do customer interviews. Look to a market research professional to help you because this situation requires an objective third party who can extract valuable insights from customers. You will want them to ask questions about the circumstances that made you the best choice and what value you provide. They will also ask questions about your customers’ business and what is important to them when they are choosing a resource. This kind of exploratory research will take some time and require an investment, but finding just the right alignment of customer to offer will pay off.
If you are a startup and don’t have customers, you will want to do a broad survey. You might decide make a list of possible customers; say between 10 and 20 different types or groups—smaller is easier and better. Treat this as a focus group. Create several different offers that you will show each group, then sit down and have an open conversation about each offer with this potential customer. First ask them what is important to them when they are looking to purchase a product or service like you are offering and write down what they say. Then show them your offer(s) and ask them to rate on a scale of one to 10 how closely your offer matches their ideal. When they give a rating that is seven or less, ask them what they would need to see to make it a 10. You can show them more than one offer if you like, but make sure that you focus on what’s important and how you can adjust the offer you have. Do not get into conversations about what is possible or impossible right now. Just assume that you can give them everything they want. The purpose is to find out what they want. You can adjust the offer later. This is an inquiry and not a sales conversation.
3. You don’t have enough price points
Before you mess with pricing, you must be sure that you are targeting the right audience. Price is often a default reason for not choosing something. Because people aren’t going to get into an analytical discussion with you about “sunglasses,” it’s easier to say that $200 is just too expensive. And it is, if you aren’t a skiing enthusiast.
Create offers at low, medium and high price points. If you are only offering a single product or service at a single price point, you will want to look at ways to create both a lower value offer as well as a higher value offer. In his book 1% Windfall, Rafi Mohammed talks about a restaurant that offered lower priced items early in the evening for families and also high-priced “Chef’s table” offerings for those guests who wanted a special experience.
Consider bundling. Bundling means that you create a product mix that your customers can buy as a single offer. Bundles often look like kits; say a dinner and a movie kit. Where you sell a DVD with a recipe and all the ingredients and wine.
4. You aren’t speaking to them
There is a common perception that content on websites or promotional materials in the second person—speaking directly TO the reader—is unprofessional and too “salesy.” This is simply not so. Test after test shows that copy that speaks directly to the audience sells and converts prospects to customers. If your industry is stuck in “corporate-speak,” then you have a huge opportunity to connect with your target audience by speaking and writing in a way that says that you know and understand their applications or frustrations.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Then create a list of all the things that are important to your customer when they are choosing a product or service like yours.
- Create a list of features that address what’s important to them, and then write out the specific benefits to the customer based on their application.
- Write as if you were informing, educating or presenting. This will keep your tone professional.
5. You aren’t telling them why to choose you
Tell your customers exactly what your competitive advantage is. Tell them what sets you apart and show them the details. Don’t be afraid of pointing out differences between you and competitors by using a chart or table—this only increases your credibility. Write an article that outlines the 10 reasons that you are the right choice for a specific target customer or application and then keep repeating those points in your marketing materials. It may sound salesy to you, but your customers will appreciate it.
See which of these reasons are holding your customers back from choosing you and make the adjustments. You’ll see an immediate increase in sales and profits.