When new clients come to us it’s typically because the marketing plan they had been executing wasn’t yielding results. When we ask them who they had been marketing to they quite often reply, “Everyone.” While it’s a common belief to think that everyone is a potential buyer of your product or service, targeting your marketing to “everyone” is a mistake.
Think of it like marketing is your bow and arrow, and new customers are the bullseye. By marketing to everyone you’re blindly shooting arrows 360° around you, and you’d be lucky if even one hit the target.
When you’re trying to make your product or service appeal to everyone you’re not able to speak specifically and directly to the core audience that would actually most benefit from your product or service. Your language becomes vague and non-specific because it is appealing to everyone, not someone.
A successful marketing strategy proactively chooses who to attract, rather than reactively accepting whoever shows up. In order to do that you need to define two things: your core values, and your ideal customer or client.
Define Your Core Differentiator
In today’s consumer-driven, instant-information world, it’s now more crucial than ever to define what makes your business or practice unique. Then you need to communicate that in your marketing efforts, on your website, and in your content creation.
Consider the iconic outdoor gear company, Patagonia. The company’s mission statement is: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” When it comes to their website marketing, they certainly put their money where their mouth is.
The cleanly organized website features numerous invitations to become actively involved in environmental stewardship. Sure, you can shop for outdoor gear on the website, but you’ll also be reminded about how the products are organic, or Fair Trade Certified, or made from recycled materials.
Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line, covers topics such as bonefish conservation in the Bahamas and how the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is working to protect the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. You won’t find a word on their website or blog that’s trying to convince someone who’s not environmentally-minded to buy their products.
Your core values don’t have to be extreme, but you do need to define them and include them in your marketing messaging.
Define Your Ideal Customer
Who do you want to attract, and also importantly, who do you not want to attract? Think about the traits that your ideal customer or client would have and then create a persona based on those traits. Creating a persona to clearly describe your ideal customer will reveal the target audience your marketing would be most influential with.
For the sake of creating an example, let’s say an ophthalmologist who specializes in cataract surgery has been trying to increase awareness about the disease, especially among men. In her years of experience, she has found that women are more likely to recognize vision problems and seek help to correct them, but men are less likely to do so. She wants to market to older men in a way that will motivate them to come in for an eye exam.
The ophthalmologist knows that vision loss from cataracts typically becomes problematic around the mid ‘60s, so she creates a persona for a man who’s 65-75 and who has begun to notice his vision is blurry. The man has started to research “causes of blurry vision” online, but hasn’t yet talked with anyone about his concerns.
This gentleman is on a journey towards making a decision and taking action to improve his vision, and the ophthalmologist’s goal is to be the final destination. She must speak to that persona at every stage of his decision-making journey, from the initial stages of gathering information, to weighing options, to taking action and calling her practice for an appointment.
This persona-driven marketing scenario is a model we’ve written about previously, and it’s based on a messaging tool called StoryBrand. One of the key distinctions that makes StoryBrand such a successful marketing framework is that it makes your ideal customer the hero in their decision-making journey, not the product or service that you’re trying to sell.
As StoryBrand founder Donald Miller says, “Your brand is not the hero of the story. Your customer is.” Your target audience wants to know how your product or service will benefit them.
Ask yourself questions about your ideal customer as a hero, such as:
- What challenges and problems are they facing?
- What emotions are those challenges creating?
- How are those challenges affecting their reputation?
- How do they envision their problem will be solved?
- Who do they see as a reputable guide to help solve the problem in this way?
- What happens if they don’t solve the challenge or problem?
As you answer these questions, make two lists: one for “pains,” and one for “gains.” What problems or pains are your ideal customer experiencing? In the case of the ophthalmologist, she might list the problems the gentleman is experiencing, like difficulty seeing well while driving at night. How do those pains make him feel? She recognizes his impaired vision is probably making him feel frustrated, embarrassed, and anxious about aging. She then needs to consider, “What does he have to gain by finding a solution to resolve these pains? What does he have to gain by choosing her to guide him to that solution?”
She can then use that information to show that she empathizes with him, understands what he’s going through, and has the experience to guide him toward a solution of restored vision. In his online searches, the gentleman notices that her blog posts and social media posts mention men like him, who were once embarrassed or reluctant to seek help but were so relieved to have found a solution once they consulted with her. The man thinks, “She helped them and I’m like them so maybe she can help me, too.”
Likewise, you stand a better chance of gaining a customer’s trust by showing that you empathize with what he or she is going through. Craft your marketing messages to your ideal customers with statements that start with words like, “We understand how it feels to”… or, “You shouldn’t have to experience…” or “You ought to be able to enjoy…”.
Once you’ve identified your ideal customer and acknowledged the hero’s journey he’s on, remind him of your core values and how these values support the solution he’s searching for. With these two principles at the heart of your marketing messages, you’ll be much more likely to hit the bullseye when it comes to attracting new customers.
Baker Labs specializes in helping businesses and medical practices grow through smart, customized digital tools and strategies, including the StoryBrand marketing model. Contact us for a free marketing assessment of your business or practice, or for a free SEO audit of your website.