Years ago when I decided to pursue a career in marketing, I was driven by the concept of motivation and persuasion. Why do people do what they do? Why is it that given the same circumstances and environment, people can have completely different perspectives? Why do people make the decisions that they make? Why, why, why….
I was determined to find out, so I studied marketing plans, demographics, customer segmentation versus mass marketing, and sales processes. I even dabbled in philosophy, psychology, and consumer behavior and still the question nagged at me- but why? All of the traditional methods of marketing told me the what or the how, not the why.
Along Came Search Engine Marketing
Now we are getting somewhere! Or so I initially thought.
I soon learned that a lot of SEO and SEM experts were merely playing the same numbers game as traditional marketing mediums. Find out what the most searched terms are and use those for the website to get better rankings and more visibility. In other words, lets dump more traffic into a sales funnel that is full of holes. There had to be a better way. And I still wanted to know why.
What was the intent of the person who entered that search term? What questions were they looking to answer? How can I best answer that for them?
The Quest For The Why
The why of the situation is answered when you consider, plan for, test, optimize, and refine the marketing to align with a person's decision making preferences.
And just how do you do that you ask? Start with these three questions:
- Who are you trying to persuade?
- What are you trying to persuade them to do?
- What does that person need in order to feel comfortable and confident taking that action?
The first two are not new questions to most marketers, the third brings to light the missing link.
Our personality traits shape how we see and interact with the world, and, in turn, how we make our decisions. Your customers have a preference for how they want to interact with you, and it just might not be what you expect. People will easily do what they want to do, the job for marketing should be to figure out what it is that they want, how they want it, and deliver it in a way that is appealing to them.
The Key: Empathize With Your Customers
After all, it is all about them, is it not? Don't talk at your customers, talk with them, in their language and in a way that they are comfortable with.
If you have traffic coming to your website, then you have potential customers coming to you with questions. Do you know what questions they are asking? Does your site answer those questions, or just frustrate them? All that polished, clever, and pretty copywriting will not mean anything to your customer if it does not answer their questions.
I know what you are thinking- of course I empathize and listen to my customers– but are you really listening? All the focus groups and surveys in the world will not give you your customers natural reaction to your company, product, or service.
But here is the good part; with the internet as a marketing medium, we have the opportunity to really find out what customers think. Web analytics can tell you how they found you and how they interact with your website. Online forums, blogs, and customer reviews can tell you what they really think. With every click on your website, your customers are telling you what they like, and what they don't.
Your customers are in control of the message online. Are you actually listening, or are you making your decisions based on your speculations?
Your Next Steps
So here is the start. This is the small step that marketers need to take in order to shift the thinking back to the customer. Because it is all about the customer and once you answer that third question, you are showing them that you truly understand their perspective as well as their pain point
Carole Mahoney is the founder of Unbound Growth, a scientific sales development firm that eliminates the guesswork of hiring the right salespeople and develops sales teams using a science -based data driven process to achieve 130-160% of quota in less than 6 months with a 98% annual customer retention rate.