The 1 Change You Need to Make in Your Business in 2016
Photo credit: GraphicStockAt the risk of sounding like an infomercial, if you make just one change to your business in 2016 you’ll open up a new door to an even greater level of success. It’s a very simple concept. You don’t have to go get an MBA or Master’s in marketing. You simply have to refocus your offerings from you want to say to what your ideal customer wants. Help your customers get what they need. All marketers will tell you to reframe your sales approach from features to benefits, but that’s not enough. That’s only the beginning because you’re still seeing your business through your eyes. You need to think larger. Your customer wants what you offer (hopefully) but they don’t do that in a vacuum. Their wants and needs are larger than your service or product. Switching from You/Business-Centered to Customer-Centered If you think of your customers’ purchases in a narrow focus, you are missing opportunities to be of greater use to them. Let’s take the retail giant Walmart as an example. Granted Walmart sells a large selection of products but if you visit their website you’ll note a “Tips & Ideas” section. There they have a plethora of ideas on various topics like beauty, health, entertaining, and more. They are meeting customers’ larger needs by asking, “why do buyers purchase this product? What is it they really want?” and creating content that addresses those needs. For instance, why does anyone want to wear a pedometer? Because it’s stylish? No, generally they are trying to make a commitment to their health. If you sell pedometers, talking about features may be helpful if there’s a big differentiator between models, but most of the time there isn’t. If all you’re doing is providing the features of the item you sell, you are as unremarkable as your competition. However, if you provide resources on fitness, best practices, tips, and ways to meet your goals, you are giving your customers something they need above and beyond a product. This is how you become a resource for them and build loyalty. Customers also share what they find valuable with friends and family. Help Them Choose You No one wants to be sold to. Look at how the automobile industry has tried to adapt from their hard sell attitude to a “no-haggle” approach at many dealerships. Creating resources that help your customers find what they need leads them to you. If you’re creating that content it can also be done in a way that steers them to you in a subtle fashion. For example, a bank may create a resource that helps people select the best credit card for their needs at the same time they are running a special on their card. The content could tell people about conditions it’s important to look for and it just so happens their credit card meets those conditions. They’re already on your site so help them find what they want. Now Look Bigger Let’s get back to the pedometer example. You realized your customers looking for a pedometer just want to make healthier changes and let’s assume you created content that would give them tips on better health practices and goal setting. Now take it to the 30,000-foot view. How can you help them do more? Provide a list of professional resources in your area like gyms, fitness instructors, and weight loss clinics. Bring in someone to do a fitness or cooking demonstration. Work with these professionals to give discounts to your customers. Create a network that provides more business for everyone involved. Now your business sells more than pedometers. It becomes an invaluable resource for healthier living through providing what your customers are ultimately seeking. Make your customers’ lives easier and give them more of what they want. Extend offerings and you’ll draw in a larger crowd. People will begin talking about you and you will stand out from the competition. The one thing you can do in 2016 to grow your business is to stop looking at your customers’ buying decisions in a vacuum. Think larger. Understand that they have a life and the more you can be a part of it by providing the answers to their questions and meeting their needs, the more you can endear your business to them through utility and increase revenue. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager’s Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.