“The people you most want to reach are likely to be the very people that are the most difficult to reach. Attention is not yours
to take whenever you need it. And trust is not something you can insist on. You can earn trust, just as you can earn attention.
Not with everyone, but with the people that you need,
the people who need you.”
You have a great product and you want to sell it to everyone! Anyone who will listen to your message, stop and peruse your ad’s or LIKE or FOLLOW you on Facebook or Twitter is a potential customer. So, the more you sell to EVERYONE, the better.
And, the best way to go about talking to EVERYONE is a one-message-fits-all approach…because EVERYONE is the same. Right?! Men, women, young, old, curious or “ready to buy”; they’re all the same. They like the same things. They speak the same language. They all get their information from the same sources. And, your message is so share-worthy they’re talking you up to EVERYONE they know.
All Customers Are Not Created Equal
When I ask the question, “Who are your potential customers?” more times than not I get this answer, “EVERYONE is a potential customer.” This may have been the case once upon a time in 1956 when your granddad started the company and that’s why you’re still leaning on one catalog, one unsegmented website, one brochure and one message that fits all. This may be working perfectly for the results you’re getting. But let’s face it, EVERYONE is not your potential customer. SOMEONE is. Someone very specific. And to connect with them you’ve got to be specific, earn their attention and solve their problem.
Casting a Smaller Net Doesn’t Mean Smaller Sales
Instead of continuing to cast a wide net (think Forest Gump and the shrimp boat) and weeding through old boots and toilet seats, imagine casting a butterfly net. A smaller net with a finer mesh, specifically cast in the right meadows and valleys, will attract and retain the abundance of “monarchs” you desire. No more wasting time sifting through old boots and toilet seats.
Let’s consider one of your segments–architects, for example. Your products are best suited for higher-end applications. Do all architects specialize in high-end projects? No. Only some do. That narrows the list down a bit. Your products are also very environmentally friendly. Now, how many architects on your list specialize in “green” or sustainable buildings? These same architects are always interested in what’s new and possible. Ironically, it appears your sales people have never reached out to ANY of these architects. Maybe, just maybe, they don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to talk to architects because they don’t really know them or speak their language. Bottom line—if your sales people were fluent in architect your sales would increase dramatically.
Revisit your audience and dig deeper than education, age and gender. Really get to know them:
Category | Architects
Specialty | Specialize in High-end Commercial Projects
Cares About | Unique or Energy Saving Materials, Solving Challenging Design Problems, Reputation, Referrals, Continuing Education Credits (LEED and now SEED), Easy Sourcing, Designing to Code, Partners they can Trust, Flexibility
Sharing | Opinions, Tweets, Project Case Studies, Articles, F2F Time, Presentations
Reading | High-end Architectural Publications, Specific Trade Journals, Plans, Blogs, Email
Hearing | Podcasts, Webinars, Trade show Speakers, Conference Speakers, Industry Hype, Colleagues Recommendations
Seeing | Videos, Industry Trends, News Reports, Tweets, Posts, Sales Reps, Job Sites, Websites, Ads
And this list is just the beginning. Would your sales people say that your brand is, indeed, everywhere THESE architects are? Talking about things that matter to them? Speaking their language, not yours. Are you talking to them differently at each touch point to mirror the buying cycle? Nothing is more off-putting than hearing from a company you already do business with who speaks to you as if you’re a prospect they’ve never met yet. (AT&T is famous for this)
Earn Their Attention
Just because you have a product to sell doesn’t mean you have instant credibility either. For your specific someone’s (in this case architects), they can’t simply hear what you have to say, they need to believe in what you’re promising. To be heard, however, you must first earn their attention.
Email, direct mail and other “disruptive” methods have made it easy to shout at and cold call large numbers of people, but the very ease of this behavior has also made it even less likely to work. Seth Godin reminds us regularly, “The economics of attention scarcity are obvious, and you might not like it, but it’s true. The bad news is that you are not entitled to attention and trust. It is not allocated on the basis of some sort of clearly defined scale of worthiness. The good news is that you can earn it. You can invest in the community, you can patiently lead and contribute and demonstrate that the attention you are asking be spent on you is worthwhile.”
Invest in what matters to each audience segment.
Contribute to the conversations and causes that matter to them.
Demonstrate that you understand them through your actions and creativity.
Create products, services and communications that are relevant.
This, by the way, takes much more now than throwing your catalog onto your website in a flip book, showing up at trade shows with nothing new and sending out a couple random tweets when your “social media person” feels like it. It takes strategy, creativity and a genuine interest in solving their unique problems. Distributors are not like architects. Architects are not like contractors and contractors are not like, well, anyone else. Each one is a SOMEONE special.
Different Results Require Different Actions
Identify your SOMEONE’S. Understand how your products and services solve their unique problems and then learn to speak their language. SOMEONE will be forever grateful you did and trust you to do it over and over again!
Here’s to building a brand that isn’t just seen and heard, it’s felt.
P.S. Already talking to your potential customers like they’re SOMEONE? What kind of a difference has it made for your sales team? To your bottom line? Share in the comments below or consider passing this on to a colleague or manager who still thinks EVERYONE is a potential customer.