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Three Questions Every Customer Asks That Your Marketing Strategy Must Answer

It’s difficult for business owners and technical subject matter experts to not love the products and services they sell, particularly professionals and subject matter experts. However, one of the biggest mistakes of business owners and leaders of small and mid size firms make is to focus only on themselves and their products or services in their marketing strategy and in their communications and offers.

Yes, the products and services are the part of your offer, but they are only part of your offer and are not the total offer. Your offer must be based on customers and the wants and needs of the market, not on your own desire.

What you want, and what your current and potential customers want are not the same. Your marketing strategy needs to be based not on what you want, but what your customers do.

3 Questions That All Customers Ask Themselves When Considering a New Product, Service or Vendor

Whether or not they explicitly state it, every customer will ask themselves four key questions:

1. What’s In It For Me? (WIFM) Time and again customer research has shown that customers want to know what’s in it for them. Your product may have an altruistic purpose or social value, but first and foremost there must be something in it for the customer or the buyer. To start with the customer will want to know if this is for them. Your offer must then include the most important benefits that they will get when they buy your products and services. What problems do you solve for them? In what ways do you make life easier or better for the customer? Do you generate benefits or do you help them to reduce the pain? If they find something valuable or useful in your products and services, they will buy them.

2. What is my investment – my money, my time, and my effort? The second question that customers ask themselves is in regard to the investment that they must make to get the WIFM benefits from your products or services. This could be an investment of money, time, or effort, or some combination of the three. The customer needs to know the benefits they will receive in exchange for their investment.

3. Do I like this company?  Even if your product or service provides strong benefits for the customer, and they know what their investment is going to be, they still need to answer whether or not they want to buy from you.  Another way of saying this is, do they know you, do they like you, and do they trust you? The customer will be asking, “Does this company get me?” When they’re reading your copy, they’re asking questions about whether or not the company gets them. Do they use words that the customer uses? Do they get the customer’s problem? Do they speak the same language? Is the imagery of people they can associate with or they like? Etc.

Think about all three questions. Do some research with your customers and target segments. Find out what’s in it for them, what they perceive their investment to be, and how you can get them to like and trust you. That will give you some of the answers to include in your offer. Rework your messaging and your offer. Afterwards you will:

  • Always have a great offer that resonates with your customers, and
  • Develop your business in the future through your customer’s perspective.

At Fixyr we believe that "one-size-fits-all" marketing is the enemy, that you need strategy before tactics, and that the best path to success is through a results-focused marketing plan built just for you.

When Should You Consider Changing Your Plans?

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth

The Prussian General Moltke famously said in 1871, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

More recently in 2012, Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I personally like the Mike Tyson quote better because of the wonderfully painful visual that it envokes.

At Fixyr we truly believe that you must have a marketing strategy and a plan to execute it. It’s important that you know and agree to where you’re going to focus to prevent you from getting distracted.

But we also know that things change. Forecasts can be off. Assumptions can be wrong. More often than not, marketing plans are overly optimistic in the results they expect to generate. When you put together your strategy and your plans for executing that strategy it was based on the market situation and the assumptions you had made at that time, and the current situation or the underlying assumptions may have changed.

Does this mean you should throw out your plans at the first sign of trouble? Absolutely not.

You should be willing to alter your plans, but always stay focused on your strategy. You should only alter your strategy under certain circumstances. At the same time, you should be flexible in your plans for how you achieve your strategy when it’s obvious that something isn’t working or business conditions have changed.

You need a system, a set of rules, that will help you identify when to adapt and adjust. Here’s a framework of three times to consider if you need to adjust:

  1. Competitors are doing something different or something new – We are strong believers in monitoring competitive threats, but be careful about changing plans too quickly to copy or react to competitor activities. What do they know that you don’t? Do you know that what they’re doing is working? Even if it is working for them, do you know that it would it work in your situation or that you should do something different to react?

  2. Underperforming marketing tactics – This is quite common, but is often more of an opportunity than a reason to change plans. Make sure you understand why a marketing tactic is not performing. The underlying reasons could be easy to fix, or they may be larger more systemic issues that won’t be fixed by changing tactics. Begin by trying to understand what’s going on. Do you have the data to understand which stage of the marketing tactic isn’t performing? Are you able to test different offers, different creatives and/or media? Quite often a series of modifications or improvements to your activities will help to improve performance dramatically.

  3. Assumptions have changed – This is the most common situation when considering changing plans. Are the assumptions that you used to develop you original strategy and plan still valid? If not, what has changed, and what should you change about your plans?

  4. New opportunities – Does this new opportunity help me to achieve my strategy better, faster, or cheaper than what I have planned? If so, what would it take to pursue and implement this new opportunity, and – this is the most important part – what will I remove from my plans to make space and free up time and resources to implement or pursue this new opportunity? Have you sufficiently thought through the new opportunity? As a general rule of thumb, wait 3 months. If it’s still a good idea 3 months later, it’s worth changing your plans.

Before dropping or changing plans, make sure you understand why you’re changing, what you would differently, and what you will stop doing as a result.

And always keep an eye towards your strategy. There are many paths to get there, but make sure you don’t go off in the wrong direction.

At Fixyr we believe that “one-size-fits-all”​ marketing is the enemy, that strategy should always come before tactics, and that the best path to success is a results-focused marketing plan built just for you.

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