“Please sir, may I tell you the words that would touch my heart and the hearts of others just like me?”
Yes, it would be a dream if your ideal customer said that.
No, he is not going to.
But – you can still get that priceless information.
When we spoke last week about the 5 second test to see if you’re marketing effectively, we found that the key is the ability to answer the question: “Deep down, what really motivates a customer to buy your product or service?”
If your message matches what really drives them – you’ve got a win.
If you’re marketing ice cream as a heat-quencher when in truth your customers buy it so that they can feel like carefree kids again, you’re missing the mark.
This week we’re going to tackle how you can find out the driving force behind your ideal customer’s purchase.
There are 4 steps to the process:
- Identifying the customer
- Finding the customer
- Motivating her to talk to you
- What to ask
Here we go:
1) Do you know who your ideal customer is?
Who do you love selling to – or working with? Who can your product or service best help? If your business is B2B, who actually makes the decisions when it comes to buying your product or service?
Example: Let’s return to our ice cream shop. My shop’s ideal customer is a parent of a child ages 3-10 who comes in to buy his child ice cream. Why? I get satisfaction out of the children’s enjoyment, for one. It’s also one of the more profitable customer types, because once the child enjoys the ice cream here, she’ll have a positive emotional association with the store and ask her parents to take her back. Also, often the parent will buy an ice cream along with his child (and there are sometimes several children) – so this customer type garners larger sales.
2) Where do you find a customer?
If you have current or past customers who fit your “ideal customer” description, ask them if they have a few minutes to answer some questions. I could ask the parents who come into the shop with their children – the more the merrier.
What if I want clients like those – but I don’t have any right now? Then I have to go find them. My ice cream shop is an easy case, because I know quite a few parents with young children. So I call them up and ask them if I could ask them a few questions that would help me in my business.
What if I don’t know anyone personally who fits my ideal client description? LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for finding ideal clients to speak to, especially B2B.
Let’s say that in addition to my ice cream shop, I’ve also been developing a graphic design software program that rivals Photoshop, and even bests it in some areas. I want to market it to graphic designers who are not entirely happy with Photoshop or their current graphic design program. So I sign in to LinkedIn.
I use the people search box on the upper right hand corner of the screen when I’m looking at my profile or contacts. I can just enter in “graphic design” or “graphic designer” – or I can get a little more advanced.
Here are my results:
Wow, that’s a lot! And I think many of them may not be relevant. Let’s narrow it down. On the left side, there are filtering options.
Play around with the filters, and open the profile of any member who looks like a good prospect in a new tab as you go down the list.
Now you need to figure out how to contact them.
- If you can find people you are already connected to, or with whom you have a colleague you know well in common (and he can introduce you) – you can just send a message. That’s the easiest.
- If they’re a 2nd or 3rd connection or in a group you belong to, you can “Connect” with them and send them a message that way.
- If you’re a Premium member, you can send a message to anyone.
- Even if you’re not a premium member, but your prospect is and she’s joined the “OpenLink Network,” she’ll have this little symbol next to her name:
That means she’ll accept messages from anyone.
- If none of the above apply, go into his profile and see if he has a website or a blog. Often there will be an email address or contact form on the site through which you can reach him.
- Another option is seeing what groups your prospect is a member of. If you can join at least one of those groups, you’ll then be able to connect with her directly.
3) Why should she want to answer my questions?
First thing to get clear – both for you and for your prospect – is that this IS NOT a sales conversation. It’s a market research conversation, and they are doing you a favor by sharing their experiences in the field. Get that clear in your mind, and make it clear to your prospect when you contact her.
Start out your message by saying how you know they have expertise in the industry in question. Did you see it from their current position, their past positions, their blog? After that, explain that you wanted to know if you could ask them some questions about their experiences with X, because that you’re doing market research for yourself (or a client, if that’s the case), and you provide X product or service. At this point make it very clear that this is only market research, and that there are NO sales pitches involved; you don’t even have to tell them what company you’re representing.
Why should she answer you? She may not. But many people will:
- People like to see themselves as experts in their field. By turning to her and telling her that her experience has value, you’re proclaiming her an expert.
- People like to help. As long as they know it’s only a matter of 15 minutes and they won’t be dragged into a sales conversation – why not?
- Sometimes they see benefit in it for themselves, especially if you succeed in getting through to that graphic designer who is really fed up with Photoshop and just waiting to hear about a different option. A simple market research conversation might turn into a sale – although don’t count on it. That’s just the cherry on top of the whipped cream at my ice cream shop.
4) What do I say?
Your prospect responded, you set up the time, and now you’re waiting with bated breath for the phone conversation. Well, actually, you’re biting your nails to the quick, because you’re not sure what you’re going to ask to make him reveal the magic words that will touch his heart.
Let’s give you some of my sample questions – a few from my ice cream shop and a few from my Photoshop rival.
- “When you decide to take your child out for an ice cream, why did you make that decision? What made you go now – and not yesterday?”
- “What did you hope that ice cream would do for you and/or your child?”
- “What was your best ice cream experience with your son?”
- “Why was it so special?”
- “What issues have you had with Photoshop or other graphic design program you weren’t happy with?”
- “Why was that a problem for you?”
- “What would you be able to do if you had a program that worked exactly the way you wanted?”
Write out sample questions in advance and have them in front of you during the conversation. As you ask the questions, keep probing deeper – sensitively, of course. Take notes – or even better, ask if you can record the conversation for future reference. After you thank them for their time and hang up the phone, listen to the recording and make notes, or go over the ones you have.
If you’ve carefully planned, thoughtfully asked and truly listened, you should have a deeper answer to the question:
“Deep down, what really motivates a customer to buy your product or service?”
Now you can start marketing.
If you want personal guidance on how to:
- find your ideal customers
- conduct your market research conversation
- get the answers you need to do effective marketing for your business
We’re giving away 3 “Know Your Customers” strategy sessions until the end of May.