Vin : Hello and welcome to The Curious Marketer with Vin, hangouts on air devoted to talking with the experts to help you understand how to grow your business. So today we’re going to try and help you understand why targeting the right market is critical for the long term success of your business and how knowing more about the people who buy from you wil help you actually beat your competition and then give you some simple steps that you can sort of take away to design your business around the people who actually want to buy what you sell. So this is session two in the series The Fundamentals of Online Marketing so we’re joined by Ammon Johns for the second session and we’ll let Ammon say hello and give a brief intro.
Ammon : Hello. I’m really looking forward to this session. I think we got a few people talking with the first one and more importantly thinking about what marketing really is. This is, you know, last week was kind of setting up a picture, this is what marketing is, this is why strategy is important. Today is the first time we’re starting to get our hands dirty so to speak and actually get down to doing something with that. Personas and understanding your target market, I think is the very first place you really apply those strategies.
Vin : Yeah and I think for people listening, generally speaking what I’m after here is , I hear a lot of people say, yeah I tried that and it didn’t work. Well the reality is is that there’s a strong likelihood that either you tried it with the wrong people or tried it with the right people but you didn’t understand those people so you had the wrong message. So whatever tactic you’re using, whatever that strategy is, marketing essentially depends on the fact that you understand the people that you’re looking to engage with. But before we get into that let’s just do a little bit of a recap of last session because I think it’s critical that people understand, you know why do we start talking about marketing, why do we start talking about strategy and how do each one of these sessions tie back? So last session was sort of a definition of marketing and at the end of the day, my summary of marketing is : you’ve got to get found, sorry you’ve got to get known you’ve got to get found, you’ve got to get chosen, you’ve got to get referred. It’s a very simple way of looking at marketing and there’s some complexity that falls underneath it but in reality the idea of the Field of Dreams, where if you build it and your awesome, they will come is a fantasy; it just doesn’t work that way. When you’re actually going in to build out a marketing plan that gives you the ability to execute on your strategy, you’re putting steps, a logical progression of steps in place to help you achieve your business goals.
Ammon : Yeah, yeah for me it’s simply that marketing is the scientific and methdoical approach to business. Without it you’re making it up as you go along, it might work, it might not but it’s haphazard. Marketing is everything that’s putting numbers to it, understanding what you’re doing before you do it. You know the whole thing of you don’t even make the product, you don’t even base your company somewhere until you know what you want to do, where you need to do it, how much access to a good local workforce is going to influence your business, whether delivery networks are going to influence your business. You know where you put your business is going to be a huge part of whether or not it succeeds or at least whether or not it succeeds efficiently. So for me marketing is absolutely fundamental.
Vin : That’s correct. You know whether it’s a science or a logical progression; it’s a method. There’s steps to take and even when you’re testing things and when you’re doing advertising and you’re not sure what the outcome is there’s ways to put tests in place to tie everything back to the achievemnt of very specific goals. We talked about that, understand what your business goals are, understand who you are as a business and build out a strategy that helps you differentiate yourself from the market. We talked about the importance of doing just that and why building that strategy is connected to, as we progress, to building a solid online marketing plan.
Ammon : Yeah, yeah absolutely and you know this is it, we are really at step one this week, that’s why I’m so looking forward to this one. How to identify and target a market. How to work out where you should be selling, what you should be selling and how you should be selling it. That’s all defined by the market because what you want to sell….
Vin : That’s correct
Ammon : What you want to sell, that’s great but you’re not the customer. You’re not putting the money up or at least you’re not goint to get your money back, the customer is the one with the money, this is the person who’s hand has to go into that pocket to bring out the credit card or bring out the cash or you don’t have a business.
Vin : This is correct. It is so funny you say this, this is something that we should highlight over and over again, is no matter how awesome you think you are what only matter is what other people out there who agree and are willing to give you money for that awesomeness, if you will. Right?
Ammon : Yeah.
Vin : So getting started, we talked about marketing, we talked about strategy and then we talked briefly about getting started. When we’re evaluating a market, you obviously have to decide what your skills sets are, if you have a product, what is that product? If there services, what services are you going to deliver? But you have to take into consideration the people out there that are going to be buying from you and really the fundamental questions are starting with evaluating market, why you? Why would people be interested in you?
Ammon : Yup. I mean I go back one step further and this is something I call step one. Step one is find dissatisfied people. There’s a lot of tendency for people to view dissatisfaction as a bad thing, especially if it’s your customers but actually all dissatisfaction is an opportunity. This is the core of marketing. What you’re looking for is dissatisfied people because if you can’t find that, there is no market. They’re already happy with what they’ve got. All you’ve got now is that race to the bottom price, that we were talking about last week, which is always the worst thing you can possibly do because you know what there’s some guy in the Phillipines right now who can work even cheaper than you can. He can feed his entire family for a week on less than you can live for a day, if you’re paying rents in New York City. Fact.
Vin : Yeah that’s a actually a great point when you think about the ability to observe a market, particuarly with the internet the way that the internet is constructed, there’s a lot of information out in the world with regards to compaints. Criticisms, negative reviews if you will so yeah you can certainly take that step and look and say where is there a gap. What we’re looking for is a gap, we need to fill a gap. In some industries that gap needs to be wider than others but you’re really looking for a gap. When you find that gap it usually relates to, not just the you’re providing something unique but that you might be providing something similar in a different way. You used the example of SouthWest Airlines, right.
Ammon : Yeah and this is precisely what we call the law of supply and demand. There is a demand out there that supply is not meeting. That either it just isn’t quite satisfying or it’s more expensive than people want it or it’s just failing in some way. That is always step one because you need that opportunity. Opportunity to delight people in a way that nobody else is doing. Now I say delight because delight is where the value is. People will pay more for delight and that’s what you want, you want margins. If your business is going to succeed then the healthier those margins the more you can charge for something, the less customers you have to attract, the slower your marketing can have traction. You don’t need to hit a homerun first run you can play safe and steady and build up. Also if your margins are big you can buy traffic, as long as you know it can convert you can buy it.
Vin : I can’t stress this enough, in the industries that I serve, the service industry, there’s a lot of great advice out there that says, don’t provide the services that you want to provide, provide the services that people need. Build a competency around that need. So it of course naturally has to be, it starts with you and what your skill set is and what not but you have to look at what people are willing to pay for and really what you’re talking about is when you look out at the world the dissatisfaction is, I’m not getting my needs met. I’m not able to achieve my goals because I’m missing something, can you provide that to me?
Ammon : Yeah. Everything single time somebody says, I wish there were, they are giving away a business idea. If you start with nothing else, somebody out there doesn’t have a job right now and is thinking what could I do, run some searches for I was there was a…. and there’s a billion ideas out there. Now some of them are way out in left field, not going to work but there are some great ideas out there and what you need to do is okay that’s what they say they want, how much do they want it? That’s the second part of identifying a target market. The first is they must want something and the second thing is they must want it enough to pay for it.
Vin : Yes that’s actually a fairly critical component because I’ve lived the experience of having something really cool, that I thought was awesome that nobodywanted to pay for. So you don’t have a business if people are not willing to pay for what you offer. Doesn’t matter even how valuable it is. If they’re not willing to give you money in exchange for it, you don’t have a business. It’s a very simple concept but it is one that often gets glossed over as people are launching their business or reinventing themselves or adding services and products and what not, right.
Ammon : We might have a slight technical hitch here, Phil says that I’m not appearing on the screen. He thinks you’ve either got the white box on your own image or something’s gone up with the hangout, I’m not getting on the screen.
Vin : I haven’t clicked anything
Ammon : Quickly select yourself and unselect, you know and then select yourself again to unselect and that should sort it out. You get a white box around when it’s selected
Vin : Can they see you now?
Ammon : Hopefully. Let’s us know if that’s fixed it Phil, if not we’ll have a look at what we can do about it. You’ll have to actually physically select, Okay sorry about that people….So we know the first thing is they’ve got to want something and the second thing is they’ve got to want it enough they’re going to pay for it and the third thing is, of course, that we can provide something that fits the first within the second. You know it’s something that they want and we can deliver it to them at a price they’re prepared to pay for, within the amount they want to pay for.
Vin : That’s critical and it’s a really important sort of 1.5% after you decide your strategy and this is actually overlapping with strategy because you really don’t have much of a strategy if you don’t really know who you’re targeting. If you don’t really know why they would buy something from you, really your strategy is kind of lacking, right.
Ammon : Yeah.
Vin : In terms of, we’re talking about a business model, we’re talking about people, we can talk a little bit about a demand model. Demand model is interesting because you know it speaks to are we a new market, are we an established market and there’s some variations in how you proceed depending upon whether or not you’re creating a new market or you’re trying to find your fit within a fairly established market.
Ammon : There’s huge differences. It’s much harder to be a newcomer in an established market because I always say, when people have got a problem and there’s no solution out there then the only thing they’re balancing you up against is do I get this service or product or I do nothing? Okay and it’s usually pretty easy to beat nothing if the problem they’ve got is big enough. If it’s a problem they don’t care that much about then maybe not going to buy a product or certainly not within this brand. Other than that you’ve got it nailed but once people have got an established provider, the research suggests you have to beat that established provider not just in one dimension but in two dimensions. I’ve mentioned this on a couple of other things that I’ve done on Google+ but you’ve got to beat them in two dimensions. It’s no good just being a bit cheaper than the established provider because the established provider they know. They’ve got the relationship, they’ve already given them their credit details, it’s easiest to let it go , keep going with the current provider. You have to beat them radically i.e. twice the normal price difference or that you beat the on price and quality or you beat them on price and delivery time. Two dimensions, two things have to be better for somebody to swap from their current supplier.
Vin : It’s interesting because price does factor in, certainly what the market will pay is important and you can’t just go charging what you want to charge if you will, so price is I think a dimension that’s important only because there is a ceiling and a floor, if you will, in the market I serve for example, I have to look at what would a dentist pay for marketing as a percentage of their entire budget. I can’t just say it’s $20,000 a month, doesn’t matter what the value is, matter’s what they’re going to pay. It’s definitely important consideration but that second dimension is really where you want to focus on your differentiation, price is important to establish reality. The second dimension, which may be the primary dimension in differentation is why am I different? Why us as a business? In order to really figure that out you kind of have to go into really knowing your market. This is really the crux. This is something I learned the hard way and this is something I just don’t see a lot of businesses understanding. It’s not just knowing who is your target, what are they buying, why are they buying? Now you have to sort of get inside that market, really understand the people, right? Market research is great, it gives you some high level numbers and what not, what I’m talking about here though is when we really peel back the layers, you really want to build an online marketing plan and a presence as we go through this session, we have to start figuring out what makes the people tick in these markets.
Ammon : Yeah, absolutely. One of the things I used years ago as an example for marketing was you know let’s pick something we all know, a computer and okay here’s what’s on the market currently, what am I going to do that’s different? The example I came up with at the time was you know what I’m going to put more memory in my computer because way back it was the area where most PC’s were radically underdeveloped. You were looking at people buying new computers with Windows 98 didn’t even have enough memory installed on the computer to run Windows 95 at full speed. People with Vista now, you know if you haven’t got at least 4 gig’s of memory with Vista, it’s never gonna run at even halfway speed; you really need about eight. Windows 8, yep you need a minimum of eight to get it going at good speed, you really should have sixteen to run Windows 0. The developers built it with plenty of RAM, you know Microsoft developers aren’t sort on computer hardware. They tend to build something for what’s good at the time, very good at the time they build it because it’s going to be a couple of years before it comes to market and they can’t predict how far memory will have advanced they will have underspecked their product for what would have been available. So you know this is the differentiation I would have made in my computers, this imaginary product I’m selling, Now that let’s me talk about the advantages, everyone had this idea with Windows 98 and 95 that Windows is unstable, it’s always crashing; the reason it was mostly crashing, 95% of all crashes on Windows was because it didn’t have enough memory. Windows isn’t great at handling memory it’s the one weakest point in the operating system and if you’ve got more memory most of those crashes, 95% don’t happen. So what I was going to be selling was a more stable computer, you know hassle free, that’s what a lot of people want from a computer. Now do I push this, I’ve got a couple of directions I can go, one – I can specify for the people who want high-end machines, people who use their computers a lot, they play games, they spend a lot of time online now there I’m going to have to include a graphics card and some high end components elsewhere or do I go for the business users and say right okay this is a small home office machine and what I want to do is therefore cut the cost of some of the other components, that people don’t need as much at home and have that extra memory so it’s more suited for the home owner but without just slapping on the cost of all that extra memory because here’s the thing that was dumb, when the companies who build computers were doing market research they found that what people weren’t fussed about was memory because the high-end users could always go out and buy their own memory sticks and add it to the computer with ease and the less well educated customers didn’t know the importance of memory anyway so they would tend to buy machines that were a bit underspecked in memory as long as it had big numbers where they thought it counted : harddrive and processing. So to get the harddrive and processing expensive they saved money on memory and that’s why people had terrible experiences with Windows for years because they were buying cheaper machines.
Vin : Well here’s the thing you touched on a lot of things we could take off and go on several other different types of conversations but one of the things that you said that really is critical here is, what you’re selling there is not tech speck it’s what the tech speck does for the user. So the user doesn’t want a headache, doesn’t want a crash, it doesn’t want a hassle they don’t necessarily care what delivers that as much as they get what they want and so often times when we look at understanding your market, this is a critical thing, this is a super critical thing, I don’t sell, when I’m talking to a dentist, I’m not talking about marketing services, I’m talking about practice growth. They want to grow their practice, they don’t want marketing services, they want to grow their practice. The question becomes how do I grow my practice? Marketing services are one alternative. So then I say what you want to do is this okay how are we goin gto do it? Well we are going to try this, this, and this. Right. The reality is what you’re selling is on their terms. It’s the goals they want to achieve and the biggest mistake you can make is sell based on specifications of what you or solutions, your solutions, right. Why do they put a girl in a bikini on sports car? Because they’re not selling the sports car, they’re selling that the sports car will attract that girl in the bikini. That’s a simple example, I’m not saying put a girl in a bikini on your website that’s not the point, the point I’m making is that you’re selling to something else. Understanding what that something else is is what the guy Tony Zambito, who’s sort of the Godfather of buyer personas talks about, goals, right, sell into the goals of your customers. I actually just saw an article he wrote about not ignoring their emotions because people make decisions not based on logic but based on emotions. That girl in the bikini is appealing to somebody’s emotion, (laughs) not how fast the car goes from 0 to 60. Right.
Ammon : I think that the tightest definition that I ever heard that addressed that said, People have things they want and things that they need and ultimatley you want them to both want and need your service but if you have to choose always choose want.
Vin : (laughing) That’s funny.
Ammon : Because people will still not buy what they need, often in order to get what they want and it really is that simple. Years ago…
Vin : Wait it’s not simple, it’s critical. Critical, what you’re saying right now is critical because want is based on a belief, need is based on something else.
Ammon : Yeah and the biggest example I ever saw that was a chiropodists that was next to a hairdressers and the chiropodists was going nuts, he said ” these women are hobbling past my shop to go and get their hair done.”
Ammon : and it’s absolutely true. You know what we buy is what we want not what we need. There are lots of things that we all know that we should have, there are things broken around our home that have been broken for awhile and we know that we need to fix them but they’ve got that new tablet out next week and I really, really want that or oh I want to go and do this, there’s so many things competing for our attention and you know what want always, always wins out.
Vin : (laughing) I have so many examples of where selling into need has failed. You know because the way my mind works in terms of a logical progression of things; you know hey if you do this you’ll get this and so therefore you need the first part of that, x=y. You need the x and they look at me and they go, “No, no, no, I don’t think so”, and I used to sit back as a sales guy and go I don’t understand how you can say no I’m presenting to you that if you don’t do this, your business is going to fail and if they don’t see it, it doesn’t matter.
Ammon : Yeah, I’m just going to quickly highlight Jeff Bond saying, “that’s exactly why education/enabling of clients is also a valuable winning tactic and that’s so true. What the chiropodist needed to do was say look it’s almost summer sandal season this is the time to get your feet sorted out. Play to the same kind of variable because it’s what you’ve got to do .
Vin : That’s the point
Ammon : You’ve got to point out the fact that one of the first things you notice about a woman isn’t her hair it’s her walk. When that woman get’s up and walks there is something in the male brain that is drawn to the sway of those hips and if you’ve got bad feet your hips ain’t gonna sway right, full stop. He could play to the same kind of vanity and as well make people feel good about making the right decisions.
Vin : But that’s everything, that’s right, appeal to what their desires are, appeal to what their goals and objectives are, understanding what those are, outside of what you sell but then fitting what you sell into that.
Ammon : Yeah, yeah
Vin : By the way, vanity is a good thing in terms from a marketing perspective. (laughs)
Ammon : Absolutely and it works in every single market as well, where you would think vanity doesn’t count it still does. People still want the latest phone, they still want the good car, they want to look good at work. Vanity is always with us because its our social standing, you know we want to be a part of essential groups.
Vin : Then advertisers for P90X wouldn’t have a guy whose body you’ll never be able to achieve, no matter how many P90X’s you do; they’re not selling you’ll avoid having a heart attack, that’s not what sells P90X. What sells P90X is the dude that you could wash your clothes on the stomach on.
Ammon : Yeah, yeah and understanding what appeals to the human psychology is someting we’ll probably need to come back to with it’s own episode at some stage but it’s certainly something that you need to do when you’re looking at target markets, is can I understand their mindset? Because if you can’t, you’re going to need to do enough research so that you can because if you don’t understand them, you’re never going to be able to sell to them, you’re never going to understand what motivates them and you could even be saying stuff that completely puts them off. A great example of that, Manny Saint Victor (? can’t make out name) gave a long while ago, he said about McDonalds, they did this advert where they were trying to attract more young ethnic groups into their restaurants and they did “I’d hit that” about their burgers. “I’d hit that” does not apply to a burger. McDonalds really misunderstood what the phrase meant and what their demographic meant by that phrase and so it came across as insulting, it came across as you know oh the big white man on the hill are trying to target us and no, you know really, really misfired. There are thousands of other sales where people have got their message wrong. You know they just completely got it wrong. There’s a lot of things where they used to think that, you know, targeting the men, being quite male chauvinist was really working and then they discovered that most of the men in, men are the users, but most of the men in their group are over 30 and most men over 30 have an awful lot of their shopping done by their wives. If their wife doesn’t like your product, it ain’t gonna sell.
Vin : (laughing) It’s just such a great example. That’s understanding who the buyer is. That’s just a great transition here in terms of understanding who the buyer is, then understanding what makes that buyer tick but in reality, I’ll give you a short little anecdote as well, in terms of selling technology, there was a story I read a long, long time ago. Company developed a product, they went out and did their market research. Typical market reasearch, they hired a consulting firm, whatever, they talked to the C level person in the division of the business they would sell to only, thinking that the C level person was the buyer. They did all their market research, they spent all this money developing a product based on the information they got from what they thought was the buyer, in this particular case it was the chief information officer, CIO. So then they launch their business and they got out and they start pitching to CIO’s, the CIO’s were immediately saying, “Yeah I don’t make that decision, that’s two levels below, this role makes that decision” and that role had no use for the product.
Ammon : Yeah
Vin : So it’s great that you think you’ve identified the buyer in terms of the CIO but there not the buyer. You’ve got to know who the buyer is and once you’ve identified who the buyer is now we can talk about profiles, personas of that particular buyer. But in your particular example, the wife is the buyer.
Ammon : Yeah and even more so. Look I want to sell something online to the over 60’s. It’s great that I can have a website that’s all geared to the over 60’s, it’s not gonna work because what most of the over 60’s do is telephone their son or daughter, that’s who finds the information for them and recommends things to them. So understanding that part of thing, the younger generation is a bit more connected the older generation tends to ask them. In business you see the same thing, look, the CEO maybe the one that makes the ultimate decision, the chief financial officer maybe the one that nods on the budget but most of the time it’s a middle manager who’s been sent out to find the products they will discuss in a group meeting in the first place. Instead of trying to sell to the end user, who isn’t even looking at your product right now and won’t be until it’s been short listed and all the departments will then look at it. What you need to do is understand a junior executive is coming to my site looking for something that matches the things he’s been told to go and find and providing him with enough information to present on your behalf to all of the right people, in all of the different departments, the tech department, the finance department, the marketing department if that’s where this product gets used.
Vin : It’s such a geat example and really what you’re talking about here is, influence, in it’s truest sense of the word, right. Real influence where you mention the not over 60 crowd because it’s the younger generation that’s out there searching for the things that they need and recommending those things. So what you’re talking about is, when you build that website, when you build that entire strategy, you have to know there’s a primary and a secondary market, right. The primary might be the 60, can we go direct to the 60 and above, that’s question number one. If not what’s that secondary that influences that 60 and over crowd and how do we market to them? How do we get them to trust us so they recommend us, to their grandmother, grandfather, mom or dad? These are the types of conversations, this is one particular example, what I want to come out of this is you have to think these things through before you go diving into building a website. You have to know not only who my direct buyer is going to be but who are the people who are going to see what I do and refer me or recommend me or influence others to choose me because you have to build your online presence for them too.
Ammon : Yeah it’s absolutely that kind of thing and you know what we’ve got a lot of smaller businesses in the audience for this show and I think it would be great if we gave them some hands on things, how they can build up a few profiles for what they’re doing because you’ve probably all heard this thing and I had this conversation with David Kutcher early today, you probably all heard this thing in marketing and sales, it’s all about story telling there, it’s all about the narrative and that’s really important but if you don’t have buyer personas it’s like writing a story where all of your characters are entirely two-dimensional at best. None of your characters are real because you don’t know anything about them and the readers can’t know anything about them because the author just hasn’t bothered and you know how it sucks in a movie or book or any kind of story when a character just doesn’t make sense and there’s no depth to them. Well this is it your marketing needs to have characters.
Vin : So the guy that I follow on buyer persona development is Tony Zambito and I highly recommend anybody watching to go find Tony and read his stuff but he literally just came out with an article that said, “Before you’re storytelling you should be story listening” and here’s the essence of the article, when you’re telling a story, the objective is to make sure that your audience can see themselves as the lead character of that story.
Ammon : Yep
Vin : You’ve got to tell your story and frame it around the people that you want to resonate with. The only way to do that is to know their story. Really buyer persona development, I wrote a simple article about it, I’ll link to after this interview, because I’ve been trying to understand the difference between a profile and a persona for years, about a couple of years and it’s a really simple pronoun the profile is I want to target men between the ages of 25-30 who work in Arizona; that’s your ideal target. The next step now is to say I’ve got to go talk to twenty of those men and I’ve got to get inside their head, I’ve got to find out what makes them tick. Why do they do what they do? What fears do they have? What beliefs do they have? What are their goals and objectives? What’s a day in the life of these people? Right and now I craft my story to fit into that narrative, right that’s really what we’re talking about here.
Ammon : Yeah I mean my take on how you differentiate; profiles tends to be the facts, it says our average user is between 30 and 45, they usually have a salary of this and they work at this level of company, you know this size of company and they live in cities like this, this and this, often within a particular area, that’s great, that a load of facts. Where a persona comes in, think of the profile as a bit like you know the mean average, what you’re doing with the persona is getting to the mode average. Now I know that’s going back a long way for quite a few of us myself not least to go back to math and remember the different kinds of averages but you had the mean average which is taking the numbers and finding that everyone has 2.4 children and then you’ve got the mode average that says that most people have either two children or three children. Understanding here’s a two child family and here’s a three child family and if we want our product to be immediately visible to people as something they can use then yeah it’s no good showing a single child couple. We need to show somebody with two or three kids so it resonates. So they can see oh yeah this is easy and keeps one child busy while I’m dealing with the other. That’s the kind of real world situation that those people understand. With mode averages we’re saying okay most of the people are this now what couple of subgroups can we get from that? Are most people in this job position of a certain age? Where do they live? What kind of car do they drive? All kinds of details, give them a name, give them a life. Are they married? How many children do they have? Get the kind of details that you can about a typical customer within this group, then find another group. So that eventually you can build up a whole group of profiles that match, well personas that match several different customers that kind of covers the gambit of all of your users and the more you do that, when you’re writing your content, when you’re pitching your product, when you’re determining whether this feature is worth adding you can now say okay, George would really like that because this is something he can do at the weekends when everything is kind of quiet but Mary is going to hate this because she doesn’t have time at the weekend, she can’t get the most out of this. She needs it all to be done for her. Do we therefore create another product for Mary that takes care of that? It kind of gives you real world cases. This is the idea of putting actual characters into your stories because now you can understand their stories. You’ve got a narrative for each of these personas and you can work out your place in their story. When we hear tell your story, that’s great if your Apple, understanding the Apple brand great there’s Apple fanboys, understanding the Android brand great it’s Google; for most businesses this isn’t something that’s that kind of purchase. I don’t care how good the socks you produce are nobody’s going to identify themselves with what those socks are, right now. Shoes maybe. (laughs)
Vin : Yeah stories keep popping up, wherever you go, stories are great, stories provide a narrative people can sort of relate to. The word choice of your is where I run into trouble and that is, don’t tell your story tell a story. Now there’s no question that your story is going to have some relevance at some point but it’s down the road a bit. You know maybe it’s, do I want to work with this person, what’s their story? Up front though, it’s tell a story. What’s the story of the people that you’re trying to attract? Tell that story, right, so the story is great, whose story is where rubber meets the road. Now the transition here for me, we can talk about this for months because it’s really that involved a concept, what I want out of this conversation is for people to understand that they need to at least start thinking of this before they start diving into website design, for example. Question now becomes why? Right, I know why but I ask you why is this important? Why does it matter to target the right people and then understand what makes those people tick?
Ammon : Because otherwise you’re wasting your time. I mean there is, sigh, you know that old saying you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink? Well you also can’t make it reach into it’s pocket to pay for a drink. Now the horse uses the water but it’s the riders or the farmers that you’ve got to pay for the drink. How do you make the farmer understand that this is a great place for his horses to get a drink? Why is this going to be useful to him? That’s how you come up with the market.
Vin : Exactly.
Ammon : and to understand the story, you’ve got to understand why this is a better solution for him, from his perspective and remember what we said earlier about the difference between what they need and what they want, how can we make them want this or do they already want it even if they’ve never expressed it? You know one of my favorite example is Apple’s ipod because everyone thought, let’s face it there were lot’s of mp3 players around there were lots of music players, everyone had produced one and Apple went a completely different way we all knew what a mp3 player was, it was a tiny little device the smaller the better that held about 20-50 songs. That’s what an mp3 player was and every day you were supposed to reselect the songs you were going to have that day or you were going to get pretty bored by the end of the week. Apple understood that what people really wanted was to have enough range on that that no matter what happened during the day, they understood that often by the end of the day you were in a completely different mood to what you thought you’d be the night before when you were putting the music on your ipod. By having your entire collection or at least a big selection of music on there, there was something for you whatever mood you were in at the time. Whatever you were in the mood to listen to, it was there. The idea being able to put your whole collection on and it lasts a couple of days, the battery, that solved a problem people had never even really voiced.
Vin : This is the thing, so the next session we’re going to be talking, I think about website, nah we’re going to be talking about overall web presence and online presence, right. Here’s where I really started to fully appreciate the concept of a buyer persona. Went to a website about a year and a half ago, I was looking for something, I don’t recall what it was, I went to the website, started reading the homepage, as I was reading the homepage, I realized something, what was in my head, was on that homepage. Okay, I’ll say that again. What was in my head, in terms of what I needed was literally copied on that webpage, literally. It was almost a scary situation because it was almost word for word, what I was looking for. So whoever crafted that copy understood a) actually what they were selling and who they were selling it to. Now I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t really have a need, I was looking for knowledge more than anything but I was amazed at the synchronicity between what was in my head and what was on that page. What you’re talking about with Apple, why I think Apple was so brilliant, amongst the many big brands, what we can bring into our marketing strategy as smaller businesses is when somebody sees you whether it’s in person or online but since we’re talking about online down the road, when someone goes to your website, when someone sees your social media stream, it need to speak to them. They need to feel like you understand them. When they go to your website they don’t want to hear “I”, “we”, they want to hear “you”. You’re trying to get this done, here’s how to do it. The point is you can’t even begin to start to craft that kind of an online presence if you haven’t identified who you’re targeting and what they stand for. This is my point.
Ammon : Yep, absolutely and furthermore what their worries are, why they haven’t already solved this. Understanding what their objections have been or why they are now trying to sort this, the thoughts of the minute, that’s so, so important. Understanding where their mindset is at right now. I published an article awhile ago, which is about how people shop online and if it’s a product you don’t know, you start off with very general searches. Say you’ve decided you want a new hobby, you’re just getting into digital photography, so you might start with searches about digital photography and digital camera, you haven’t got one yet, digital cameras. What you’re looking for at the moment is just a broad overview. If a site is trying to sell you a camera, straight away, miss, missed by a mile, they haven’t understood the customer researching for digital camera isn’t trying to buy a digital camera yet. If they were after a camera they would have specified a make or they’d have specified some detail about the camera, they would have narrowed it down. The fact that this is still so general tells you that they haven’t got a clue yet and what you need to be doing is providing the overview. This is a chance to build trust to show that your knowledge of this market is better than anybody else’s and you’re more honest about it. You’re not trying to just sell them the most expensive camera you can but you’re trying to sell them the best digital photography experience that you can and they can just happen to buy a camera from you that’s inline with that philosophy.
Vin : So you mentioned David Kutcher one of the case studies that you and I actually had, we saw it we viewed it, it was one of David’s studies where he talks about intent based search engine optimization, I don’t want to get into the topic of search engine optimization right now but what that says to me, when someone says intent based, they’re saying where are we or where’s the audience in terms of their current intention and are we meeting them at that point? So this person is ready to buy, this person is just searching and discovering, this person is just looking for some knowledge and will never buy. Are we meeting these people at the right place, at the right time and the only way we can do that is if we know what their intent is. We can’t do intent based anything if we don’t understand what their intent is.
Ammon : Yeah, yeah. Let me bring up Alex’s question here because she says, “so to be an effective marketer, are you saying you have to be empathetic? Or can you just be a great researcher and connect the dots?”
Vin : Both.
Ammon : It’s a bit of both. Yeah I would say, Google has been very very good at defining intent and understanding UX and things like that but these are geeks, come on, everyone knows geeks aren’t very good with people; they’re great with tech but being able to work up the systems for rewarding the right kind of result for the right kind of moment is exactly where it’s at. So I would say, yep there’s a bit of both to that. Your salesman tend to, usually good salesman are emphatic. They’re very good story tellers, they’re good at connecting with people that’s what makes a great salesman. If you’re a marketer and you’re not great with people but you’re great at the numbers you can be a very successful marketer, when you’re writing your copy get the sales team involved, get the customer service team involved. These are the people who can tell you what questions people are asking, what objections they’ve got and also in the case of your salesman, what was the right answer? What won them over? What answered that issue they had because sometimes the issue people raise isn’t really the issue they have at all. What we were saying last week about people saying they hate marketers because we’re all liars. Of course why they really hate marketers is because we often show them their own hypocrisy. A good marketer is very honest and unfortunately that means he sometimes shows you the not so nice parts about yourself that you like to think you do this that and the other but actually, you all support quality, you want everyone to have good standard of living but then again you buy from a company that is massively known for underpaying it’s staff or you buy from a big label that you know employs child labor in the third world. The fact is we’re not always very nice people and marketers unfortunately kind of remind of it sometimes.
Vin : And you know data has a place, research has a place and so forth, the empathy doesn’t necessarily have to be the touchy feely version of empathy. It’s the ability to put yourself in the shoes of somebody else and imagine what’s their intent. Why would they need what we have to offer? What is going on in their life? How can I reach these people? What would they see from me when they actually see me? How would they respond? How would they feel? That’s why empathy is you know a critical tool in the arsenal of an effective sales person because you’ve got to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Here’s the big thing, listening becomes key and so when you go out and decide you want to design your website, if you’re already an established business, go talk to a couple of your customers, right, go find out what they want to hear. What do they want to see? What kind of content would they like? How do they buy stuff? How do they live? When they get up in the morning, what do they do? When they go to sleep, you know it’s like a converstion at bar, it’s qualitative not quantitative. You’re trying to get a sense of their personal journed, if you will. Not a buying journey, a personal one. How do they feel when they wake up and proceed through the course of their day? The more you can get of that kind of information, now you take that information and you craft your homepage on your website, a certain way, you craft the subpages on your website a certain way. You stream certain kinds of content and conversations on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Google+, right. You write certain kinds of blogs to answer questions that help people navigate a day in the life. This is why online marketing fails because people haven’t taken these steps. How do I know, I failed, cause I didn’t take these steps. I learned the hard way.
Ammon : People sometimes forget that online and offline mix. They mix in the real world all the time. How many people have never had a conversation in a coffee shop or in a office environment about something they saw online and everybody does. You know, when you want to get something online I bet you’ve at sometime asked a real world contact, even if you’ve contacted them through the internet, it’s somebody you feel you know and trust in the real world for their opinion on something and people get real people’s opinions all the time on things that they buy online. Unless it’s a very small purchase that they don’t feel there’s any risk to at all but this is it understanding that influence and online and offline, it all comes back to the big picture of marketing and sometimes the best thing is what we call a holistic marketing campain. Which is to understand that your physical presence in the world, you know, your point of business whether that’s a shop, whether it’s a service provision, whether it’s your headquarters, whether it’s a regional office, is one part of that. What advertising is on the streets, do you have billboards? Are you on the radio? Are you on television? As well as the people looking you up, why are they looking you up? There’s these adverts out there, well one thing we’ve seen really, really successfully for the big companies, in recent years, a tv campaign, just a pretty simple one, for a couple of months is going to cost them 25 million dollars. That’s how much one tv ad costs for a couple of months and most of these, they are saying, look us up online. Search for this, come to our website here because that enables them to put a longest message than that 30 second or 60 second commercial and that worked really well. One of the first companies to do that was Volvo but BMW and most of the car industry did that and the car industry have been very, very successful at advertising for a long time. They know what their doing, they’re selling a high end product and it’s all about making you want it, much more than you need it. Do you really need a Jaguar? Do you really need a BMW? No, most of the time you don’t but it’s about what it says about you and cars are wonderful, let’s face it cars are four wheels and some passenger room and an engine but there’s infinite variety. The fact that it started off where you had, okay we’ve got coupe and saloons (? word) and buses, you know , that’s plenty of range and now look at the subgenres. Look at the thing between a sports utility vehicle and a minivan.
Vin: It goes back to the need versus want.
Ammon : So yeah infinite varieties are out there and this is where we’re talking about niche marketing. Understanding that there’s room for all of these things. I do want to bring up a question that came up, much earlier by Mary Iannotti who said, “For a business that is trying to expand into a new market, do you have any suggestions on how the business can learn about the target market’s goals and pain points?” I think it would be nice for us to have one sort of real world example to put in here that will probably apply to a lot of people in our audience both use service prodivers. Do you want to have the first bat at that or do you want me to dive straight in?
Vin : No, go ahead.
Ammon : I think one of the very first things, I’ve said this before, use social media for the one thing it’s really good at. It’s good at listening to people in mass, right across the internet. Let’s pick an example here, you’re a new insurance provider, it’s not like there’s any shortage of insurance providers out there. What are people’s pain points, before you even come up with what your product is going to be and what your usp is going to be. Remember when we’re talking about unique selling proposition, selling is one of the important parts, selling depends on value and it’s not your values that count, it’s your customers.
Vin : Yep
Ammon : So find the thing people are dissatisfied with right now about insurance and that’s a selling point. If you’re the only one that’s targeting that, it’s a unique selling point, so that’s one of the strongest ones. Quallity is always up there and perceived quality can be different from real quality as well. So run some searches. Find out where people are talking about insurance on social media and look for the negatives. There’s several tools out there that can help you find those kind of things very well. I’m not going to a plug for any particular tools right now because the right tool partly depends on your, partly depends on the market at any given time. There’s a lot of tools out there, try several,most of them have a free trial, try them. Test them out because you’ll find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Vin : There’s another thing that she can do, Mary, that works actually pretty well. It was advised to me awhile back and I didn’t do it and I should have. It’s very simple, pick up the phone and you call a few, somewhere between 10-20, 5-15, it doesn’t have to be a huge volume. You simply introduce yourself and say hey look I’m starting or I’m going to start to offer a certain service, that the people that do what you do, and I’d just like to take a few minutes of your time and talk to you about why it would matter, talk to them about themselves. You just pick up the phone and start calling some people. Look to see if you know anybody that knows anybody, that’s an easier way to get them to take the time to help you but you’d be surprised how many people will actually take that call because you’re phrasing it in such a way that says you want to make sure that whatever you do helps them. So you’re asking them for a favor, just help me understand a little bit about you.
Ammon : I think one of the things that a lot of people do quite well is you know, small businesses often ask their friends and family, I’ve got this what do you think? The trouble is they’re friends and family. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. These are people that like you and want to be nice to you, so sometimes what you really kind of need to do is ask friends of friends that you don’t know. Ask your friend if they will ask, if they will hand out a questionnaire to five people who they know bought insurance last year. There’s no harm in asking, it might work. If you’ve got an insurance company already, send your employees home with ten sheets that they can hand out to distant friends and family because it’s in the company name, their going to be honest about it, it’s not a case of you know looking after their friend.
Vin : There’s also one of those areas, Ammon and I experienced directly and that is you can actually use social media engagement to just get inside a circle of these folks. Join a community, just start talking, you know just start talking. Build relationships and the relationship will reveal if you’re listening correctly, the relationship will reveal, what is it that these people need? How do they need it? What language do they use? The language is a critical thing as well, if you’re looking at social media, you can start to see how they say things. Right, it’s not just understanding what their pains are, problems or needs are but how they talk. What words do they choose, use to describe things. Social media is great for that which you didn’t have years ago, now it’s a great instrument. You can go out and use listening tools, you can also just go out and join a community on a place like Google+ and see what the conversation is. Do a search on the profession in that industry, see what their posts are, go to the professionals posts and see if there’s a conversation unfolding and you start to get a sense of how these folks think and that will give you a sense of whether or not you have an ability to start a division of your business or add an additional service. But if you do, how? What is it that you want your page to say? That’s really where we are going with this. It’s really all about the language, right.
Ammon : Using soical media as well, you are now identifying the demands in a place where you’ve already got a persona attached. You can find out where they live, how many kids they’ve got; their stream tells you so much about them and what you do is you pick the most common features of four or five groups, where these obviously go together, there is definitely a stereotype here, that’s kind of what you’re building is a decent stereotype that feels real of various target markets or various potential customers and then which ones work. I remember the Perreto principle, the 80-20 rule, 80% of your business comes from just 20% of your market. Twenty percent of your customers are doing most of the work, so don’t be afraid to focus on the most profitable, the most rewarding. The ones that will mention you most. Focus first, where it delivers the most then pick up the pieces.
Vin : So maybe we’ll add this to the next session because it was something I wanted to talk about, we did talk about it briefly in the first session, that is not only who you want to target but who don’t you want to target but in the end since we’re at the hour mark for this session. The next session is going to be about sort of creating an overall online presence that will give us a map into the specific steps, including website, social media and so forth. To sort of recap what we’re talking about, is why marketing is important, what is marketing; the importance of building a strategy and really the overlap between the market you’re going to serve and that strategy related to what you do and I can’t stress enough, this conversation is 100% super critical to anything that you do with regards to whether it’s online or offline marketing, anything you do with regards to business planning, understanding people, if you don’t get anything else out of this session, understanding people that you expect will give you money for whatever it is that you provide is essential. It’s not a nice to have, essential, I can’t stress that enough. We’re going to keep highlighting this as we go forward, the next session again as I talked about, where going to talk about an overall online presence, what does that mean, how it ties back to a strategy, how it ties back to a niche, how it ties back to understanding the people. Every word that you use, does it fit their narrative? Until you understand that narrative, you’re not reallly doing marketing.
Ammon : Yup, absolutely and I’m looking forward to next week, hopefully everyone else is too.
Vin : Thanks for joining us.