Whilst the weather outside my office window is anything less than ‘spring-like’, the start of the new financial or tax year often brings with it a new budget and an aggressive marketing campaign to roll-out, with energy and vigour. But what if those hard fought for marketing £s are spent in the old-fashioned way of throwing loads of stuff at the market and hoping that some of it will stick?
Why don’t B2B marketers dust down bad habits and start afresh with some of the marketing approaches that work so well on the high street, making it easier to connect our great ideas with people who would really appreciate the help. So what would a spring clean for business marketers look like and how we can get started? Let’s think about what works on the high street and see if it applies to services. For example, let’s:
1. Carefully edit the shop window – for most of us part of our shop window is our web site, the first place a potential buyer (87% of them already do this) will go to see if we have anything in the window that attracts. If the window is cluttered with all our expertise and stuff (because us business marketers are fond of showing off our expertise! rather than carefully edited to provide a compelling taster, then we miss an opportunity to help our ‘shopper’ quickly make a decision to meet us.
2. Signpost – once we attract buyers into our shop (or in reality, into our offices for that initial conversation) how do we translate interest into finding out what the buyer is looking for and then signpost clearly how we can help? In a retail environment, products are organised into types or colours or by the kind of people they are designed for eg for children, for women and are given visual signs. In our business worlds, we need to identify needs and then verbally and visually signpost the kinds of solutions that could be the perfect fit. For example, this can take the form of matching services clearly to needs that we identify, or through colour coding or signing routes for different types of buyers. Which takes me on to the importance of personas.
3. Personas: know your customer – our retail friends are big on this. Friends of mine in the fashion business tell me how retailers develop a clear and focused sense of the kind of customer their brand is aimed at. For example, high street chain Zara is aimed at the highly fashion conscious younger woman, whilst Marks and Spencer caters to an older demographic, one interested in value and safe fashion basics rather than anything cutting edge. These personas get reflected very closely in the clothes each store sells and in the experience and environment of the store.
In contrast, how many business brands have as strong a sense of the ideal client for them? Most admittedly, tackle this as a science by thinking about the ideal target market, in terms of size, type of business, whether it is global or domestic etc. But who goes the extra mile and observes the behaviours, builds greater understanding and then builds their offers around these insights? If anyone has any great examples from the business, I would love to hear about them please.
So these are my latest tips on how to make our marketing approaches more fit for purpose by aligning ourselves more to the human side of the buyer, and away from the old ways of treating folk as part of a machine, where we speak in corporate jargon and try to impress by showing off all we do.
So isn’t it time to spring clean our businesses, as well as our homes?