Talking to your customers involves talking about them, not you …
People love to talk about themselves. Given the opportunity, many of us will happily talk about what’s important to us until the cows come home.
A job interview technique I was told some years ago centred around getting the interviewers to do all the talking. The theory was that there is usually one person on the interview panel who is passionate about their role and the business they work for. Get them talking about it, and you have to do less annoying question answering yourself.
Though sound in theory, in practice it didn’t work too well. Most experienced interviewers knew exactly what I was trying to do and didn’t let me get away with it.
It is true, though, that most people do like to talk about their specialist subject – especially if they have a vested interested in it, as is the case in many smaller businesses.
And, most of the time, this is no bad thing. It’s good to be proud of what you do, and to be proud of your business.
But it can be very easy to spend all our time talking about how good we are and how good our offering is, when all the customer wants to know is, “How does this help me, and how does this solve my pain?”
In other words, we can be in danger talking a lot about our capabilities, instead of talking about our solutions.
Are you valuable?
In our recent blog on finding your niche in business, we talk about the value of your story.
But the story, here, isn’t the story about the business. It’s not a story about how it was founded and the trials and tribulations of coming to market.
It’s the story of what you do for your customer that is most important – expressed in a way that speaks directly about how you are of value to them.
The process of creating this core story is called creating a value proposition.
What makes you valuable?
As we all know, new customer’s wont buy from you if they don’t understand why they should pay attention to you. Which means that your starting point for generating new leads will always be “The Customer” and their pain points you solve.
If you know and understand your current customers, what their pains are and why they value you, you can begin to talk to potential customers in a way that will engage and convince them of your worth.
For more information about understanding customers see our guide to understanding and targeting customers.
Know how you address your customer’s pain
Once you understand your customer’s pain points, you can begin to create a collection of the most persuasive reasons potential customers should notice you and look at the solution you are offering.
This will be the guide for all your marketing decisions and the basis for your marketing messages.
Value Against Competitors
The likelihood is that you have competitors. Most of us do. And there will surely be a competitor who beats you in at least one aspect of your offering.
Instead of worrying about this, it’s good to remember that you don’t have to be the best in every way. It’s great if you are. But, realistically, it’s difficult enough to be the best in one way.
But, if you are the best in at least one way, you will be the best option for the people who value that aspect.
For example, Waitrose doesn’t have the largest selection of products, compared to other supermarkets. Primark isn’t the most prestigious place to shop. Sunspel certainly isn’t the cheapest brand of menswear (unless you’re James Bond, of course).
But all those brands survive and prosper, because people buy from them for other reasons.
They each have an offering that is valued.
The starting point, then, is to know what your business is offering that makes it the best option for your target customers. If the answer is nothing, or you don’t know, then customers have no good reason to buy from you.
Nail this down, however, and you are creating your value propositions.
The next question to ask though is, can you prove it?
Prove your value
Unfortunately, saying “My solution is the best solution out there,” will not make people flood to your door – if only it would.
The simple fact is that people just don’t believe it when businesses try to sell to them in this way.
Without proof to back you up, what you say can start to sound like “Marketing Speak”, which most people don’t pay attention to, or remember.
Telling people that you are the best, or even being the best, isn’t enough. People need to believe you’re the best option for them.
If you don’t prove your claims, people are unlikely to believe them. And your value proposition becomes useless. So it’s important to use studies, testimonials and common sense along side your value propositions.
Most people can’t read minds
Many businesses don’t help people see what sets them apart competitors. Even if they are are better than others and can prove it.
Instead, they try to persuade people with general promises, sales babble and feature lists. Or they just ask you to buy before really even telling you what they sell.
If your website doesn’t clearly tell visitors what makes you worth their attention (and money), they just won’t spend the time to working it out themselves, and why should they?
So it’s really important that you hit people right between the eyes with what makes you different and worth attention.
Your Value proposition
When you start creating your value proposition, the first step is to find the core of it.
The core of your value proposition is made up of the ideas that make you clearly the best choice for people.
It’s not everything there is to a strong, refined value proposition (unlike some of the basic definitions would have you believe).
But it’s the part that makes the biggest difference.
Those few sentences can give you an unfair advantage.
Using them well can make you the market leader; the current leaders got there because they knew how to do it.
For more information about creating value propositions for your business, download our free guide.