Friday, June 20, 2008

Ask REAL Questions

Insight From Small Fuel:

SmallFuel Marketing Blog

3 Questions Your Customers Are Dying For You To Ask

question marks
When it comes to setting up their marketing, many small businesses make the mistake of starting from a self-centered perspective – “Here’s my product, and this is why it’s the best!” Then, after months of tireless effort, they scratch their heads and wonder why they aren’t getting the conversion rates they want.

The fact is, successful marketing demands more than just a breakdown of features and benefits. You need to get into the heads of your customers and understand their needs, wants, and deepest desires.

To begin developing that understanding you need talk to your customers and ask questions that help you figure out what truly drives their buying decisions. Getting these answers will not only help you market in the future, it will help you guarantee a satisfied customer.

Here are three questions that you should start asking.

Question #1 – “What’s The Real Problem You’re Trying To Solve?”

girl with power drillOne of the most important aspects about marketing a product is seeing past the product itself and appreciating the very real issues that drive your customer to seek out what it is that you are offering. In essence, your customer is not looking to buy a product – they are searching for a solution to a problem. They have a need to be fulfilled that is larger than the product itself. Take power tools for example. When customers walk into a store looking for a drill, they don’t really want to buy a drill. They want to buy an easier way to make a lot of holes. The drill is just the means to an end.

Being told about how your drill is easy to use will put them in a stronger buying mood than hearing about all the impressive features your drill comes with. To be fair, however, some of your customers might just walk into your store looking for the “latest and greatest.” But essentially, that’s just another problem they want solved – the need to feel good about owning something that will impress others. Address that when you are marketing to that kind of customer and you will make more sales. The key to successful marketing is to understand the individual needs of your target market and to design your approach accordingly.

The Take-Away: Discover the real issue(s) that your customers are trying to solve, and direct your focus to showing how your product meets those needs rather than trying to dazzle them with sales hype

Question #2 – “What Makes You Uncomfortable With Buying A Product Like This?”

uncomfortable buyerYour customers have made plenty of buying decisions in the past – many of which they’ve come to experience “buyer’s remorse” over. They carry that emotional baggage into every transaction they make, constantly evaluating the risks against the rewards. While they are considering buying your product or service, they are running a silent conversation in their head to determine if they can justify their purchase – and if they can trust you as a provider.

They may be worrying about how quickly they can make their money back after the purchase of your product. They may have doubts about your sales claims based on memories of being burned in the past. They may have doubts about whether the product is the right fit for them, whether they should go with a competitor, or what their options are if it does not meet with their expectations. At this point, they have no interest hearing about how great your product is – they want to feel safer about making the purchase.

When you are preparing your marketing strategies, don’t try to shy away from facing all the reasons your customers might not want to buy what you are selling. Instead, discover each objection ahead of time and bring it up to customers before they even think about it, making sure to position your product’s features (and your personal guarantees) in a way that defuses the tension they are feeling deep down inside.

The Take-Away: Consider all the reasons that a customer would second-guess a decision to buy, and learn what is causing that emotional resistance in the first place. Then tailor your marketing to preemptively address their objections.

Question #3 – “How Can I Make Sure You’re More Than Satisfied?”

very satisifed customerFace it – no customer likes being “sold to,” or made to feel that they are just another commission for you to pocket. Instead, they want to feel like they have come out way ahead by doing business with you, and that they are looking forward to doing so again and again in the future. Master marketer Tom Peters calls these “raving fan customers,” and they are what you are truly after in your business. Raving fans become fiercely loyal to you, bring you repeat sales, and attract new customers to you by authentic word-of-mouth referrals.

How do you satisfy a customer to the point where they are truly won over to your side? Consider every transaction a chance to truly wow them. Discover their pain points and make things better for them. Make them feel good when you communicate with them. In short, consider them more than simply a customer or a client – consider them a real person, with a real problem, who has a real need to be helped by you. And if helping them (rather than helping yourself) is what is truly on your mind, they will reward you with more sales and more referrals.

The Take-Away: Don’t focus on the sale. Focus on the customer, treat them as exceptionally as you would want to be treated, and reap the benefits of a long-term business relationship.

The Questions Don’t Have To End Here

Once you get into the habit of looking at your customers with these three questions in mind, additional questions will pop into your head as you become more sensitized to the needs of the people who buy from you. Spend some time coming up with relevant answers to these questions as well – either by imagining a customer’s perspective or talking to them directly – and you’ll enjoy the higher revenues that result from your effort.

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