The Most Important Marketing Question

By November 2, 2015General

I was on the phone the other day with a new client who had hired On Purpose Projects to help her develop a new website for her business. Like many entrepreneurs she knew she needed to improve the online presence of her organization but was unsure and confused about what she wanted the site to look like or what she wanted it to do for herself and her clients.In an effort to help her step back and approach the project with a fresh set of eyes I asked her the most important question any business owner needs to ask him or herself before launching any marketing campaignwho specifically are we trying to serve and attract with this endeavor?

For a few seconds she thought about it and then gave me the answer I knew was coming – “well everyone I guess”. With all my heart I understood what she was trying to say; she had a great idea for a service and felt that anyone and everyone could benefit. Like many entrepreneurs she subscribed to “the more the merrier” philosophy – excellent if you are planning a community barbecue, detrimental if you are launching an online marketing campaign. Because I knew that the concept of target marketing is a huge turn off to many leaders, I gently explained that while “yes” her service was excellent, there was undoubtedly a community of people who could benefit the most from her offer – our job was to figure out who they were specifically so that we could serve them in a deep, meaningful way.

I could tell she wasn’t really with me so I began to ask her the below questions:
Is there a specific gender of person who would be most inclined towards using your service?
Is there a color scheme that would be most attractive to this person?
Is this person laid-back or busy?
Why are they coming to your site?
What are they hoping to achieve from your site?
What are the biggest frustrations your client is experiencing that your service could help them with?
How do your competitors present their service? Are there good ideas they are using you could copy?
What kind of action could you ask them to take that would invite them into a closer connection with you (download a guide, come for a tour of your facility, have a phone call)?
How old is this person?
Do they have kids?
What income bracket is your ideal client? (Tip: it must be high enough so they can afford your service.)
Is there a specific type of person that you have the experience to serve / connect with best?
Is there a type of person you are more passionate to help than another type of person?
What is the profile of person who is already benefiting from your service?
Are they married?
What makes this person happy (as it relates to your offer)?
Does this person have a specific religious affiliation? Would they be more inclined to choose a service provider that had a similar affiliation?

Although it goes against all my own marketing training, I am the first to admit that my inclination is to try to help everyone all the time just like my client; however, I also know that if I want to be able to create deep, meaningful, high-value experiences for my clients I have to develop custom solutions that will appeal to a very specific niche of people. Unique groups of people have unique problems that need solving and they want to work with the specialist at solving those problems. The wider I go in who I offer my services to, the vaguer I must make my message and the further I get from being able to truly hit on the deepest, most honest needs of my target client.

One of my favorite marketing expressions is the one that says that to really understand your buyer you need to “get in bed” with your client. Now before you get all crazy it is not what you think (unless of course your client is your spouse lol) but to imagine that it is the end of a long day and you’re lying in bed beside your client watching him or her look up at the ceiling thinking about the challenges the day had brought him. What is he thinking about? What is she worried about? What keeps him up at night? How could you help?

The truth is that clients want to work with service providers who understand them and their unique needs best. They want evidence through your brand’s colors scheme, your brand’s vernacular and “voice” that you understand them, that you speak their language and know what is going on in their head – you can’t do that if you haven’t identified who you’re marketing to. If you were sick, would you elect to go see your GP or to go see an expert trained in curing those with your specific illness? Exactly. That’s what your prospective clients want too. Your job as a marketer is to determine how you will package your offer in a way that will be most meaningful to this precious individual. They want the help and it is your job to show them how YOU are the one who understands and can help them best.

If you’re like many small business owners, the process of identifying a target marketing is one of the most challenging business decisions you will ever make. Choosing to go “narrow” in your approach carries with it a lot of fear but I can tell you for sure that until you dial in on service the specific needs of a specific clientele your business will limp along in mediocrity not offending anyone but also not really helping anyone. If you need some help in this area I’d love to set up a time to have a coaching call with you and get your business on track to having the impact I know you dream of it having.

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