24 November 2015

Smiling father and son checking checklist on clipboard while standing in hardware store

I’ve been a Business Advisor for some 10 years now. Without doubt, the topical questions I’ve encountered most in that time revolve around three subjects; marketing/sales, finance and employment. Today, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts on marketing and sales.

The questions here are usually “How do I get more customers?”, or “I’ve sent out/delivered loads of posters and flyers and I’m getting no response. What else can I do?” So please allow me to share a few thoughts based on my experience not just as a business advisor, but as a customer too.

To sum it up in one simple phrase, my message here (far from revolutionary I know) is that you have to think like your customer. So what, exactly, do I mean by that?

Well, let’s think about the language you use. You have a product or service which you are very passionate about, of course. You want the whole world to know about it. But what are you saying to the world?

This is particularly relevant if your product has technical aspects. Because of your enthusiasm, you may produce all your information with a lot of technical phrases or jargon. Does this mean anything to your readers? If they don’t “get it”, you’ve lost them. If I had £5 for every customer that I’ve asked “So what does that mean in simple language I can understand, please?” I’d be wealthy! Please, make it easy for the reader to grasp.

This is closely aligned with two key words, “Features” and “Benefits”. If I’m about to explain the obvious, I’ll make no apology because it is always worth reminding ourselves of the key differences:-

Let’s start with features. This is what something does or has. For example, a car that can do 0-60 in 3 seconds, a computer that has the latest processor or a certain amount of memory, an article of rainwear made from the latest high tech fabrics. If I’m the potential customer I might think “So what?”

That’s a really good question to ask yourself when you’ve drafted your marketing material or website. Re-read it and think to yourself, “So what?” You need to think BENEFITS.

So what’s the difference? Put simply, a benefit is “what it does for me” (the potential customer). So if you take any of my examples above, your thought process should end each feature with “which means”. For example, the article of rainwear made from the latest high tech fabrics might mean it’s lighter, easier to pack and carry, dries quickly and allows you absolute freedom of movement. Now, as a potential customer I’m beginning to see why I might need or want one.

So to conclude, the simple trick here is to:-

  • Think like your customer.
  • Speak their language.
  • Make it easy for them to grasp the real benefit to them of what you’re offering.

Give it a go and hopefully, you’ll be on the road to successful sales!

Written by Vic Short, Nwes Business Advisor

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