Discover the most relevant conversation

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NB: This is step 2 of a 5 step series – Step into 2008 with more fun.

5 Steps for 2008In step one of this series I asked you to take a good hard look at who makes an ideal customer for your business.

Today, we are going find out what that ideal customer really values about your business and we are going to use it to craft a core marketing message and strategy.

You’ve probably heard lots of marketing folks talk about something called a USP – short for Unique Selling Proposition. It’s an age old term, heck I’m sure I’ve used it, but I think marketing life has changed and a USP no longer rings valuable. If you look at the word selling right smack dab in the middle of that phrase you should get a tip as to why USPs are so last decade. A USP is all about the seller and not about the customer.

I’ve started using a term of late that I think gets more to the heart of what makes a business appealing to a customer. Instead of unique selling propositions I want you to think of creating something a little closer to the truth. I call it the “Most relevant conversation” or MRC (you gotta have an acronym right?)

For me, the MRC is all about the customer. It’s all about what’s relevant to them, in the way they want to hear it, in a way that holds the most value. You need to tap the conversations they are having with themselves. Your customers only have time for what’s relevant, and everything is. When they have a conversation about your product or service they will reveal what value really means

Now here’s the tricky part, while unique is still very, very important, your customers are better at identifying your MRC than you are. So, you’ve got to involve them in helping you create the conversation that becomes your marketing message. The part that makes this hard is that business owners aren’t always comfortable with conversations, conversations can be too real and messy and unmarketinglike. But that’s the point. That’s how you find something that is truly unique for you.

Here’s what I mean. Most lawyers want to believe that they get hired because that have the best reputation, most prestigious practice or fanciest lawyering skills. If you did a quick survey of really happy customers (and I have) you’ll hear conversations like, “yes, they do really brilliant work, but what I really like is they call me back within 24 hours.” And that’s their “most relevant conversation.”

I interviewed dozens of customers of a high-end remodeling contractor who believed that craftsmanship was their core differentiator. Turns out that what their customers really liked was that they cleaned up the job site at the end of the day. And that’s the conversation they used to propel the business to triple digit profit increases.

    Here are your action steps for today:

  1. Identify five to eight existing customers that fit your ideal profile, that you can honestly say, “if I had a few more customers like these, life would be great.”
  2. Schedule a time to interview each. You want to know – why they hired you, why they stay with you, how they would explain what you do that is unique, how they would refer you. Here’s the tough part though, don’t let them stop at, “you have great service,” push them to reveal what that means, make it relevant, make them cite examples of good service – here’s a form you can use for your interviews
  3. Record the common conversations that you hear and look for a story, a theme, a phrase to build your entire marketing strategy around
  4. Visit the web site of your top 4-5 competitors and cut and paste the first paragraph of content from each on a sheet of paper. Look at how everyone, including, I’m just guessing here, you, are saying the same thing.
  5. Create a phrase that encompasses your customer’s most relevant conversation. “We actually call you back, We own more Shop-Vacs than any other remodeling contractor.”

If you missed Step, 1 you can find it here.



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