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When people say they want to launch a blog, podcast, or other new media because it represents another way to reach customers and prospects, they have already failed.
Not because new media is not efficient or cost-effective, but because the effort violates the basic premise of marketing, which is to focus the company on what the marketplace needs. How can the company determine needs without first knowing whether the customer is inclined to use new media forms of communication?
Indeed, the first step of targeting prospects requires basic data on various factors such as industry, title, gender, and perhaps geographic location. But understanding customers and prospects -- as well as influencers -- demands a deeper effort in order to keep the company on track.
It means researching and identifying what motivates the audience, and then tailoring a marketing campaign that touches them on an emotional level. If they aren't ready to buy then, they will be more likely to buy from you when the time is right for them.
Also known as psychographics, motivating factors such as personality, values, interests and lifestyles have a strong impact on the success of marketing efforts because many executives' buying decisions are grounded in these attributes.
How can you know if your prospect likes fishing, the opera, or both? Well, sometimes there are details we don't know about even the closest of friends, but there are questions to ask yourself and indicators to watch that can help.
How can you create a connection with prospects? Approaching them with the intent of a long-term relationship will provide opportunities for you to do them a favor, such as sending them a lead or an industry tip that will help their business, or perhaps a congratulatory note regarding recent news. Through an industry association or other organized gathering you may find other details that lead to ways you can establish a bond with them.
How can you create appropriate opportunities for them to become customers? As another effort at extending the relationship, ensure that your advertising, Web presence, telephone or personal interaction, and other new media tools are carefully developed to guide prospective customers.
Try and force the sale too soon and you may lose them; confuse them with mismatched marketing and sales materials and you may lose them. Eventually, you will know whether your prospect is a good candidate for a sale because you will be learning about their psychographics, such as their personal interests and how they think.
How can you keep your carefully courted customer? Fulfill the promise of your brand by providing the same level of product or service at the agreed-upon price. Nurture the relationship by keeping the channels of communication open, seeking feedback, and offering the same useful tips that you did in the prospecting phase.
You also will know by now whether your customer's decision-making process is based on personal preference, what is popular, what is the safest thing to do, or in reaction to a competitor. You can tailor your outreach accordingly.
Also, prepare yourself early in the courting process by thinking about the questions your prospects will ask of you. Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? How do customers access your product or service? And most importantly, what is the benefit, or why should customers use it?
Having clear, succinct answers to these questions conveys to prospects that you are on target, and it prepares you for the eventual conversation with them.
We have all been exposed to Web sites that are hard to navigate, incorrectly targeted direct mailers, or the sales representative at a trade show who talks about product features as an ice-breaker. These offenses occur every day and they torpedo marketing efforts because they tell the marketplace that customers' interests are secondary. This leaves open the question of how beneficial that company's product or service is.
It is and will always be people that make a business succeed, and sometimes regardless of the quality of the product or service. People within your company and the people in your target audiences have to have a connection on a personal level, and that requires getting to know them beyond simple demographics.
It means developing relationships where you place a higher value on what audiences need and what motivates them, as opposed to what you provide. It also means that your company needs to be perceived as one with personality so that it will be remembered and respected, regardless of whether a competitor is cheaper or faster.