The number one rule to remember in marketing is that your clients are focused on what's in it for them.
If there’s one universal truth about human beings, it is that we are chronically self-obsessed.
Yeah, yeah, you’re not that type of person…you have no ego…you always think of others….
Unless you are divine….
And I think it’s safe to say you’re not….
Then you are as preoccupied with self as the rest of us earth-dwellers.
Humans seem hard-wired to prefer, choose and follow what is most like them.
This fundamental truth has sparked relationships, wars and a whole score of “-isms” that have shaped the history of the world. One interesting example of our self-obsession is research proving that people are more likely to donate money to hurricane relief efforts when the hurricane bears their name.
Sounds silly but think about it.
If I switched on CNN and heard news of an impending Hurricane Nkiru, I would be on it like a rash.
I would track that storm like a meteorologist in training.
And I would feel compelled to give money…as would my close friends and family.
That same research – a 2008 study from the University of Michigan – found that people would donate more even if the storm simply had the same initial as their first name.
That’s how badly we need to see ourselves in everything around us.
So, keep this in mind when marketing to your customers.
Your promotional blasts may bring people through the door, but you need to get personal to make them feel welcome, kick off their shoes and hang.
How to Get to Know Your Customer
You don’t want to invite misfits into your world, so you need to be able to identify and cultivate your ideal customers. If you are an entrepreneur, coach, consultant or other service provider selling your knowledge and expertise, then adopt the mindset of an authority brand, not a mass-marketer.
You are a thought-leader sharing a message that can help people and change the world. But your message will not be effective, if you try to position it for everybody.
“To attract the right people, you have to repel the rest,” says author and branding maven Sally Hogshead.
Getting crystal clear on Who You Serve is one of the pillars of my 5-Story Framework™. This goes beyond choosing a niche or building an avatar called Becky who is a life coach and a mum of two in Maryland.
You need to dig deep to understand who your people truly are.
When I work with clients, we use a combination of assessment exercises, guided online research and live customer research to paint a very real picture of your ideal clients.
What makes them tick?
Who do they currently get their advice or information from?
How aware are they of the problem you solve or the solution you offer?
What keeps them up at night?
The more you get to know your clients, the easier it will be to serve them, both in your business and in your marketing. You will be able to craft emails, social media posts, videos, blog posts and all other content that speaks directly to the problems, desires, pain points and dreams.
You will be able to get into their heads, their hearts and their wallets. That is how you begin to build a community of followers and customers for life.
Social Media Is Not Your Home
You may meet your prospective clients on social media, but it’s not wise to try and build profitable relationships on somebody else’s real estate.
Even if you grow a mega audience on Facebook, you are only one algorithm change away from your numbers going up in smoke. You may attract droves of new followers every day, but don’t get it twisted.
Zuckerberg is not going to send you a private memo warning you about any upcoming changes. You and Mark ain’t down like that!
In an age where every social media platform is moving firmly towards a “pay to play” model, there is always the risk that you will wake up one day and find that your ability to reach your audience is severely reduced.
Social media is great for awareness, engagement and promotion, but not so great for sales. Unless your surname is Kardashian, your chances of building a sustainable business off IG stories are slim.
The dopamine hit you get from all those likes and shares may feel oh so good, but vanity metrics won’t grow your bank account. You need to be more strategic with social media. Leverage the one or two platforms that you have the time to work consistently to build your network.
But then reframe the use of social media in your business as a vehicle to channel people into your own funnel.
Grow Your Audience with Email
I coach my clients that building authority involves building the assets that will enable you to scale. One of the most important of such assets is your audience.
Your priority should be on growing your email list so that you are building a tangible business asset not a pie-in-the-sky following on social media.
As you engage with prospects on social media, your goal should be to move them onto your email list.
Growing, engaging and nurturing that list is where you will reap the biggest returns on your marketing efforts.
Please don’t listen to all the doomsday prophets who keep warning that email is dead. I swear email has been dead for about ten years now.
Think about it, how can it be dead when every social media platform is built on email?
How can email no longer be relevant when all business communication still runs on email?
While it’s true that spam filters have become harder to by-pass and email marketing demands more skill today than it did a few years ago, email still outperforms other marketing vehicles.
In fact “email consistently and undisputedly provides the biggest returns in digital marketing” with a return on investment of 38 to 1 according to Litmus, the leading researchers on email marketing and metrics.
As overcrowded as our inboxes are, email remains an intimate space where you can speak one on one with your customer. It allows you to deliver personal interaction at scale.
Building Authority Means Building Relationships
If you want to be a true authority brand, you need to develop a mindset of nurturing a relationship with your audience not just chasing a transaction.
You develop a relationship with your customers by using your content to woo, nurture and befriend your ideal prospects. You can’t just be blasting marketing messages. You need to tell stories…share vulnerabilities…ask questions…and pay attention to customer responses.
You need to strike that delicate balance between sharing more about yourself and doing so in a way that keeps the spotlight on your customer.
Always remember, as I pointed out at the beginning of this article, that your customers are most interested in themselves. Consider yourself a perennial student in the School of Getting to Know Your Customer. Never stop learning about who they are, what they need and what makes them tick.
Make them the heroes of your stories and always keep their pains, problems and desires front and center when you craft your content and strategy.
In closing, here’s another hurricane fun-fact – the most devastating storms have been female.
So, Hurricane Nick…maybe you can hunker down in the basement and ride it out.
Hurricane Nkiru….best be outta there.