Welcome to The Profit Minds Podcast with Dr. Steven Kirch. Dr. Kirch is the professor of PROtivity(SM) and creator of the PROtivity(SM) Growth System, a unique blend of profit growth, productivity acceleration, and business process for scale. In each episode of The Profit Minds Podcast, Dr. Kirch interviews entrepreneurs and small business owners from around the world with a unique story to tell.
In this episode of The Profit Minds Podcast, Dr. Kirch speaks with Debra Harris of Maynestreet Weight Loss.
You have a great product at a no-brainer price. Your sales copy is excellent. Traffic is coming to your website at reasonably consistent rates.
And yet: almost no one is biting.
This can be so frustrating because we know our product or service will help prospects solve their problems. We’ve spent so much time and energy making our product/service into the best solution out there.
It can feel like we’re one of those sign spinners—pointing the way, sweating in the hot sun, and dancing until our muscles ache—and no one’s making the turn.
The fact is, only 1% of prospective customers are ready to buy right now. The other 99% still have to go on a journey before they’ll be ready to buy.
Think of the customer relationship like a romantic courtship. While maybe 1% of people are ready to fly to Vegas to tie the knot then and there, most need to go through a few key steps before they’re ready to settle down.
By recognizing the buyer’s journey, you can better understand where your prospects are along that path, what they’re thinking about, and what they need from you at each stage.
1. Future Buyers
For most buyers, the journey starts when the prospect is still a “future buyer.”
These prospects aren’t comparing companies, weighing options, or picking out which color product they like. Prospects at this stage likely don’t even know that they want a product or service to begin with.
The question they’re asking (and the question you need to answer) is “why should I buy?”
Not “why should I buy from you” but “why should I buy anything in the first place?”
How do you answer this question? By highlighting the benefits of a purchase. They need to know what problem your product or service solves and why they want a solution.
This is a very different question from what most small-business owners try to answer on their websites. Their content most often focuses on choosing a vendor once the buying decision is made—but that marketing content is skipping crucial steps.
For example, if I’m selling air conditioners, at this stage I’m not talking about my appliance’s features but about the benefits of having an air conditioner. I’m talking about the discomfort of hot rooms and unsightly pit stains. I’m talking about the comfort of cool air after working in the garden all day.
If I’m an accountant, the future buyer doesn’t need to know my expertise and qualifications. They need to understand what a relief it is to let someone else manage their books and completely remove any concern about taxes.
2. Soon-to-be Buyers
The next stage is the “soon-to-be buyer.” These prospects understand the benefits of buying a product or service to solve their problems.
The question they’re grappling with at this stage is “why shouldn’t I buy?”
This is the stage when all the objections come out of the woodwork: Is it worth it? Will it be too expensive? Is it time-consuming to implement? Sure it works for some people, but will it work for me?
The information you provide at this stage should work to overcome those objections. Soon-to-be buyers need to know that the solution you’ve presented (a) will work, and (b) will work for them.
Soon-to-be buyers of air conditioners, for instance, might be concerned about how an AC unit will affect their electric bill. Effective marketing, then, would address the importance of energy efficiency, or how energy-efficient appliances can save money on electric bills in the long run.
An accountant’s soon-to-be buyers might be wondering if they actually need to pay for a professional: “Couldn’t I just have my nephew keep track of my books?” Marketing in this stage, then, could address “return on investment” and how professional management of cashflow can actually add to a business’s bottom line.
3. Now Buyers
The “now buyer” is that 1% we talked about earlier: prospects who are ready to make a purchase right now.
Their main concern is vendor selection. Now that they know they want to buy, they’re asking “who should I buy from?”
Now buyers are ready to hear what separates your product from the competition. Why my air conditioners are more energy efficient than other brands. What expertise and certifications make my accounting services first rate.
The issue is most marketing starts with this step.
While setting yourself apart from competition is important, most prospects aren’t going to care about this until they’re ready to buy.
By nurturing your prospects with the valuable information you have provided through every stage of the journey, they already trust you more than your competition by the time they make it to this stage.
The answer is simple
Why aren’t prospects buying? Short answer: They don’t know you.
A slightly longer answer: They don’t know you—yet.
The goal, then, is not to sell to the prospect right away. (You wouldn’t propose on a first date, after all!) Instead, the goal is to nurture the prospect along their journey so that when they are ready to buy, you’ve given them all the information they need every step of the way. This builds trust and makes them naturally want to buy from you.
To learn more about how to nurture your prospects, check out my ebook, Mind Your Profits.
When it comes to marketing, many business gurus offer some version of this advice:
• figure out who your ideal customer is
• be really specific
• then sell to that person
Most entrepreneurs know they need to have an ideal customer (or ideal client, or ideal customer avatar, etc.) in mind. Understanding the specifics about the person you’re selling to can be incredibly helpful, whether you’re crafting your message, working on your marketing, or developing your products.
But when it comes to actually figuring out that ideal customer, the strategies these gurus suggest tend to be pretty abstract, asking us to “imagine,” “picture,” or “visualize.”
We’re supposed to “imagine a day in the life” of someone—but how can we do that if we don’t know who that someone is?
The old way works (sometimes)
While ideal client visualization exercises can be helpful once you know who they are, visualization can be challenging if you don’t immediately know the type of prospect you’re looking for.
Some business owners know instinctively who their ideal customer should be. If you’ve been selling a service for a long time, you may have a sense of who you enjoy working with (and who you don’t enjoy working with—but that’s a topic for a later blog).
Others start with a specific client in mind and design a product around their needs. That approach is a little better, but it doesn’t help those who already have a product or service and need to figure out who to target in their new marketing campaign to take their business to the next level.
Unfortunately, most business owners lack a strategy for zeroing in on their ideal customer avatar.
Consider my client, Elaine, who is a coach for women executives. While “women executives” may feel specific already, Elaine knows that the more specific she is about who she serves, the more effective her marketing campaigns will be.
But waiting for a client avatar inspiration is no way to run a business. We need a strategy.
Here’s a new approach:
Step 1: What is your unique selling proposition?
Instead of trying to pull an idea customer avatar out of thin air, start by looking at your offer.
What is unique about your product or service?
What is the superpower that only you can offer?
An accountant, for example, might be especially good at sorting through an unorganized mess of documents and receipts. A painter might be especially good at capturing the dynamic movements of water and the ocean.
For Elaine, her superpower is helping women speak with voices that will be heard. So often, diversity is treated as a checklist; while women and people of color may be invited to the meeting and allowed to “sit at the table,” their ideas are not always taken seriously. Elaine’s unique selling proposition is helping people position those ideas so others will really listen.
Step 2: Who is going to benefit most from that proposition?
Once you’ve zeroed in on what you offer and why it’s unique, use that to brainstorm your ideal client.
Who is going to benefit most from your superpower?
Who is going to want or need your unique product or service the most?
That accountant who is good at making the disorganized organized could be especially helpful for business owners with ADHD. That gifted ocean painter could market their work to avid surfers.
As Elaine and I started working together, we realized that the person who most needs her superpower is the female chief diversity officer. This woman not only clearly gets the problem—she lives it every day in her job.
And here’s the beauty of this particular avatar: After Elaine is effective in helping the chief diversity officer be heard, she is a great conduit into the C-suite, with potential introductions to other women executives who experience this same problem on a daily basis.
Stop waiting and start strategizing
The days of aimless visualization are over. We no longer need to close our eyes and cross our fingers, hoping the perfect idea for an ideal customer avatar will somehow fall into our laps.
Instead, we can use a concrete strategy to reverse engineer our market based on what makes our offers unique.
It’s a simple exercise, but it works. By taking the guesswork out of developing an ideal customer avatar, this strategy leaves more time for us to dig into the details of who this person is and what is motivating them so we can actually put the avatar to use in our marketing.
If you try this exercise, comment below to let us know who your ideal client is!
Today you’re going to learn how to find a target market of potential customers so you aren’t wasting precious resources on blitz marketing. So, the two questions you have to ask yourself are:
What do people really want to buy from me?
What related products are they already buying?
Once you figure this out you will know who is more predisposed to purchase your products/services. Then, you find other businesses with the same customer base who you can customer share with. Come up with an incentive and great arrangement to encourage both of your customer bases to shop at both of your stores.
The basic concept is this:
You want to find existing businesses who have the customer profile that you are looking for to market your products/services to.
Then strike up a relationship with those business owners to work out an incentive for customers to purchase from both businesses.
As a result, you have an audience to market to and they generate an added value from their current base.
So, how do you figure this out? There is a great formula from Jay Abraham you can follow with great success.
LV = (P x F) x N – MC
Here’s what it all means:
LV is the life time value of a customer
P is the average profit margin from each sale
F is the number of times a customer buys each year
N is the number of years customers stay with you
MC is the marketing cost per customer (total costs/number of customers)
Once you know how much you need to spend to attract a new customer, you will know how much of an incentive you can offer to a business to help attract new customers.
So, here’s your step-by-step process:
Find companies who already have the customer base you are looking for.
Negotiate an incentive for them to share that customer base with you.
Focus your marketing resources to this group of predisposed customers.
If you need help working through this process, please contact us and we’ll set you up with the most comprehensive system of marketing tools and resources.