The new year is nearly upon us as I write this, and it inspired me to share my thoughts on how to be really successful in 2012.
Here are 4 things I think are important:
- Customer Service
- Target Audience
All of them are tried and trusted ingredients of a good business, and I apologise now for repeating them, but they are so important for 2012.
We have seen just how incompetent bankers and politicians are. We have seen how corporate giants operate so unethically. We have seen regime change everywhere (with an abundance of regimes forcing change on other regimes).
All in all, people are fed up with the kind of stuff we have all been fed by authorities and experts. So, how can you be different?
This is so simple. Treat your customers with respect. Listen to what they want and give it to them. The difference between the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ is massive. If someone ‘wants’ something it means that cannot currently get it. This may be because they cannot afford it or because it is hard to find.
So, once you have produced or found what they want, tell them you have it. If you have developed a good reputation with your customers they will buy from you.
Needs are much harder. People need things all the time. They are truly not bothered who fulfills that need. Food and somewhere to sleep is a need. A ferarri or a holiday is a ‘want’. You ‘need’ really great customer service to get customers to buy their needs from you, so it is vital you treat them with respect.
One caveat here though. There will always be a number of customers who take advantage of you. This figure in my experience is very very small, but you need to watch for them, and ensure you ignore them as much as you are able. Of the 50,000 plus people I have helped over the past 32 years, I have found that there are less than 1 in 3,000 who will truly waste your time, but you come across them, just remember to say ‘no’ (or they will drive you mad).
This is just the best thing you can ever do. But it takes a LOT of confidence to be honest. And it starts with being honest to yourself. Why are you in business? That is often the hardest question to answer, and yet is key to your life.
But put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What are they asking for when they contact you? Do you have what they want? If not, say so (but try and find a way to give them whatever it is). They will trust you far more for telling them the truth than not (and you will live a less stressful life too).
This is what you MUST sell if you want to be successful. Even the commodity markets know this. Everyone needs bread, but which bread? This is a ‘need’ so you ‘need’ an edge. This is why healthier wholemeal and 50/50 varieties are now outselling white bread. The market’s needs are changing slightly, and ‘healthy’ is in.
Whatever it is you are selling, tell them the feature, but enhance that feature with its benefit. Think of the feature as a ‘need’ and the benefit as a ‘want’: “These are notepads, you can write a best selling novel using them” (of course this will only work if you are targeting prospective authors).
Probably the most important thing of all, especially to new startups. Never ever ever believe that the whole world will want your product or service (no matter how true that may be), you will fail for certain if you think this way. It is the biggest marketing mistake I know.
You must break down your audience to its smallest parts and then target each part separately. This is how divide and conquer works, and why it works. Here’s an example. Let’s go back to that notepad.
Everyone on the planet can benefit from a notepad exept the very very young. There are countless companies manufacturing notepads. If you were doing this, who would you target? where would you even begin?
How about business people? One of the common traits among the successful is the fact that they write notes. Lots of them (later on they sell their notes in a form of an autobiography – it is the ideal way to remember what you were doing 30 years ago). And if you are not currently making notes of what you are doing and your plans ahead, then now would be a good time to start.
One form of notepad is a diary. Instead of blank pages, you split them into days, months and years. In other words you not only reposition your offering at a specific market, you also tailor the offering so it suits that market.
Let’s go further. Let’s make the cover of the diary pink and target women. And let’s add an image of various musical instruments and target female musicians. Let’s put quotes from famous women musicians on some of the pages too.
In other words, keep digging deeper and deeper until you make the niche your own.
But that’s not enough yet. You also need to know if your target audience has either a need or a want for your product. And how do you do that? Take a look at places like Yahoo answers, plus search for blogs and forums devoted to your niche. You will soon find the ‘pain’ points. And they will tell you everything you need to know to get started, from what types of product they want, to the angle of message you need to send.
So, here’s to 2012. Find your target audience, sell them the benefits, treat them honestly and give great customer service. You can’t fail.