How many articles in the business press have you seen that counseled business owners to “deliver value”, “know the client’s pain points”, or “create a marketable business model”? It’s great advice no one tells you how to do it. How can a Freelancer or small business owner who is not armed with a 5-figure marketing budget unearth such information quickly and inexpensively?
You already know that it’s essential to communicate to clients, in a number of ways, that you understand their needs, the results they’re trying to achieve and that you’ve got the know-how to get the job done. When invited to speak with a decision-maker about a potential role in a project, I recommend that you turn to the company’s social media feeds, ranking sites such as Yelp or Trip Advisor and the website and take notes on what you find—and you will find! Social media platforms and websites contain posts, newsletters, case studies, videos and/or audio reels that provide a treasure chest of information that you can use:
- Marketing messages promoted to current and prospective customers
- News about upcoming product and service launches
- Indication of the products and services their customers prefer
- Customer service complaints and compliments
- Special promotional events
- How the company positions itself against key competitors
- Insights into whether customers skew male or female
- The age range of customers
- Job titles of customers if the company is B2B
Once you understand the prospect’s customers more completely, you can identify discussion topics and questions that will make you shine when you and the prospect meet. You’ll develop a winning sales pitch that speaks directly to the prospect’s needs, including perhaps matters that were not fully articulated when you first spoke with the prospect.
- You’ll position yourself as a highly competent, capable, trustworthy problem-solving professional who has the expertise to not only get the job done, but also to exceed expectations.
- Your asking price will reflect the above conditions, meaning you’ll be able to command a premium price for your product or service (as determined by the client’s budget).
Now what if you are in the midst of writing a business plan to launch a new company, or conducting a business model refresh, perhaps in response to some inevitable disruption in the market place? Once again, social media sleuthing will reveal information that will ensure your business model will appeal to the evolving tastes and expectations of your target customers. You’ll be positioned to predict what factors will resonate for target customers, from their preferences regarding product or service features in your category, to the best way to express the perceived benefits and designing the ideal customer experience.
Social media postings will bring to light the big picture of your target customers and help you understand what makes them unique. You can then explore how your products and services can appeal to those unique attributes and conditions, in particular needs and preferences that are not fulfilled, or are insufficiently addressed, by competitors. Your product or service line, marketing materials, advertising and marketing campaign, packaging, hours of operation, pricing and payment options will be structured to accommodate the uniqueness of your target customers. You will find your niche market and your business will thrive as a result.
Thanks for reading,
Photograph: Peter Sellers in The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)