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If you ask the average person what it means to create value with a product or service, most will probably say something to the effect of saving money or offering a substantial discount. They wouldn’t be wrong, but they wouldn’t be completely right either. It’s quite similar to the days of when an affiliate marketing conference is full of a bunch of ad networks and when you ask why they are the best, they will reply “We have the highest paying an best quality offers” — which got really old, really fast.
In the business world, we define value as the degree to which a product or service enriches life, fulfills a need, or solves a problem. Sales and marketing professionals long ago figured out that people don’t buy just to possess an end item or service, but to fix or improve something in their own lives or business. While this is especially true for B2C, it also holds for B2B as well.
Many businesses fail to close deals with other businesses because they don’t understand what their prospect is looking for (the Buyer Concept), and even worse, where they can create value for that business. We often default to saving cost and trying to underbid our competitors, but that’s a tactic that has become less and less effective as the years have gone by.
If we want to get the most out of our sales leads, and increase both our conversion ratios, ROI, and profit margins, we need to start understanding where we create value, and who our ideal customers are. This can often be done if you can imagine yourself as the actual customer of the product, but there are many other ways to improve on this as well.
Know Your Business
When someone asks you, “What does your business do?” you probably have a good answer already prepared. “We produce high quality automotive parts.” Good for you. But if instead you were asked, “How does your business create value?” what would you say?
Before we can hope to create a strong customer base, we need to understand what it is we really offer with our products and services. Cost is definitely an element that we can influence, and it plays a factor in many deals, with the majority of businesses, but it’s not the end-all, be-all that many perceive it to be.
This is often best accomplished by those individuals and brands that actually have a passion for what they do.
Value can also be quantified in saving time, avoiding hassle, increasing capability, ease of use, or access to new resources. Emotional factors such as reducing anxiety, fulfilling a dream, or making a new connection are also viable elements of value that you can introduce.
Regardless of what your product or service is, understanding where your business introduces value is the first crucial step to making the most out of your marketing and sales efforts.
Know Your Customers
Once you’ve established where you can introduce value, your next challenge is to identify what group or groups of people will readily buy from you, and more importantly, be a good fit for your business. Finding your ideal customer is a challenge that every business inevitably faces, but if you don’t, you’ll flounder to create a customer base that will sustain you, or allow you to grow.
The easiest way to understand those demographics that will make up your ideal customer is to create a Buyer Persona for each one. These are hypothetical, broad snapshots of the typical life, values and buying habits of the people you want to sell to. Buyer Personas are critical whether your focus is B2B or B2C.
The following decision and profiling examples are crucial when trying to figure out who your ideal customers are.
- Pool your personas into a few target groups.
- Get to know those personas.
- Create profiles for each persona.
- Develop content and messaging for each persona.
For example: if you make high quality automotive parts, you might create a Buyer Persona called Steve the Service Manager. Steve works in the Chevy dealership in his hometown, and his job is to make sure the service department runs smoothly. He values saving money, reducing time spent on each vehicle repair, and using high quality auto parts with a service life of at least five years, backed up by at least a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Your business makes high quality auto parts with three-year warranty; your pieces can be easily installed in most Chevy vehicles very quickly; you offer discounts on bulk orders. You just made Steve’s day.
It’s critical to know who will buy from you so that you also understand who won’t buy from you. You need to know who may be willing to buy but you can’t really help, so that you can avoid them. It’s not an effort to be more elite or high end (although you can certainly market that way, if that’s what you want your business to be). It’s about avoiding wasted time, money, effort, and buyer remorse.
Get the Leads; Close the Deal
Once you’ve established both where you bring value, and the customers who are looking for those same elements, you’ll have a much easier time prospecting and generating leads. Your next step is to ensure that your sales and marketing teams understand the elements you’re strong in, and where you’re lacking. To help your sales and marketing teams even further, you can even outsource your lead generating activities, saving you time and money, and allowing your teams to maximize their money-making efforts.
Understand yourself, understand your customer (or those you want to be your customers), and then cater your marketing efforts to those strengths. No matter the business market, the product, or the services provided… this is the business marketing strategy that continually works time and time again.
To use a cooking analogy – without a clear picture of what you bring to the table, and who wants to join you, you’re essentially opening a cookbook to a random page, preparing a meal, and praying that someone will eat it.
No it’s time to apply these same working methods and ideologies to your own business and marketing efforts.