Customers don’t care about what you sell

When a customer comes to your website (or your Etsy shop, Checkatrade profile, Facebook page…) do you tell them what you do, or do you tell them what you do for them?

When you spend every waking hour working on a business, it is easy to develop tunnel vision. You become so familiar with every aspect of your product or service that you forget that some of your potential customers are seeing it for the first time and may have no idea what it does. What is obvious to you may not be clear to them and educating your audience should be a crucial part of your marketing strategy.

Customers don’t care about your products and services, they care about finding a solution to their problems. If you can demonstrate that you can offer them that, they will listen to you.

I’ll give you an example: I have a 3 year-old son who is suddenly very interested in washing his hands all the time, but he can’t reach the sink yet. There are a number of ways I could solve his challenge: I can pick him up so he can reach the sink, I can buy him a stool, a step, or a small ladder. I could buy a portable sink or I could even install a small basin in the bathroom, like the ones they have at the nursery. These are all viable solutions and each of them has its pros and cons. Right now I don’t particularly care about all the specifications of each of those products or their brands, all I care about is: can they safely help my 3 year-old wash his hands? If you go into the fine details too early you will lose my attention. I want to have that information at the right time.

Here are two adverts side-by-side: one has a picture of a child and shows me how the product is used, how safe it is and what age it is suitable for; the second ad talks only about the product itself – the brand, the materials, the method, even the country it was manufactured in – but it doesn’t explain what the product is.

Product tunnel vision: first advert focuses on what the product offers while the second ad talks about itself.

Am I saying then that your high quality production, your awards, your amazing customer references don’t matter? No! They all matter a lot, but they matter more when delivered at the right time. Some products and services are universally known while other require more awareness and education. The more niche you go, the bigger the need to explain the value first before diving into product features.

Pretty much every purchase follows the same steps: awareness, research/ education, consideration and decision. Customers may go through these steps very quickly when making an impulse purchase while for complex products, the sales cycle may take months.

It’s important to understand what the journey is for your customers and support their needs at each of those stages. Remember: your customers –not your products – are the start of the show.

Published by Carolina Marino Sargeant

I’m Carolina Marino Sargeant. I am a British/ Brazilian professional with 15 years’ experience in Marketing and Corporate Communications. I have been at both ends of the spectrum, having worked for very small businesses with no marketing budget and for Fortune 100 tech giants with hundreds of marketing professionals. My website offers marketing ideas and tips for small businesses and self-employed professionals who would like to grow their revenue or income with little to no marketing budget.

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