The 95% of small businesses fail in their first five years – not because of their product or service, not because of poor accounting practices…but from a lack of sales.
How does a business get sales? Put product in front of it’s targeted audience and run a marketing campaign. Sounds easy right? Let’s look closely.
There are two ways to sell your product or service to customers. You can inspire or you can manipulate.
In marketing, sometimes companies can manipulate customers into buying from them with prices, promotions, fear or scarcity and other techniques that are all used to manipulate and motivate a purchase. Yes, all of these techniques work, but none of them are sustainable in the long run. They create a problem 98% of businesses I have worked with face – they are too busy running around and investing to get that next customer instead of focusing on the existing customers and inspiring them into becoming loyal brand ambassadors. You see, these selling techniques are short term wins and don’t encourage loyalty.
Some may ask, why grow a field of rice, taking care of it daily and watch it grow, then harvest it, when one can buy the same rice in the store. Why should I invest into inspiring my customers when I can’t measure my Return on Investment. Why can’t I just invest $1000 into Facebook ads and get 10 sales with 30% profit. And you can. Well until there are another 5 competitors emerge into your market to offer your product 25% cheaper or Facebook changes it’s algorithms and your 10 sales now need a $1500 investment.
You can manipulate customers into buying from you with selling tactics, always trying to outbid or outmarket the competition. Or can inspire your own tribe of loyal customers who will be willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you.
So how do you inspire your customers to buy from you and how do you make sure your next marketing campaign is successful?
You see, people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. Other companies can copy what you do or how you do it. But they will never be the same if they don’t start with why.
Imagine Apple’s ads, marketing campaign’s and products description would read like this from the beginning “We got a nice smart phone. It has a great camera, different apps and you can even call with it. It costs $1000. Would you like to by one?”
Instead, Steve Jobs started the company with the “why” in mind: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” And this is the reason why the company and it’s products won over so many initial die-hard fans around the world, and continue to do so, who buy every new product Apple releases.
You can see that Jobs saw Apple products as a tool to improve the quality of life for mankind.
He didn’t start a marketing campaign with an ad in newspaper “New iPhone from Apple. Buy now for just $1000.”
He created value first, he saw a problem in the marketplace, he saw pains consumers had, he saw ways to improve their lives. He delivered that value in a form of a product that offered 10x the value in a form of convenience than the price Apple charged for it. He didn’t care about the people who said the phone was too expensive, he created the iPhone for those who were different, the rebels, who liked to experiment and innovate, he created the entire movement. He reminded us that the ones who see the world differently are the ones who change the world.
And it all started with “Why”.
Finding your own “why” in your business.
Take some time to look deep inside to find out what your beliefs and values are. Is your current company’s mission driven by your belief and vision or is it about the products and services you provide. Most businesses’ “why” comes from the founder and their beliefs. This is often something they believe long before their organization exists. It’s a cause that drives them constantly.
In my opinion, every business MUST start with this exercise before even thinking of the product/service they will be offering and finding customers.
Why are you in business? What is your big mission?
Who are your ideal customers? Who are you helping?
What value are you bringing into your customers’ life?
Why should they buy from you?
When you answer these 4 questions about your business you will have a much better understanding of what are you offering/selling and to whom.
Take 30 mins to do the exercise and be honest with yourself.
If your answer to #2 is “everyone who wants to buy from me”, redo the exercise. You are not Facebook and even Facebook started in a very niche market at one specific university, targeting only males.
Your job isn’t to please everyone. Your job is to find those people who can’t live without you.
Download the expanded worksheet to help you find your ideal clients.
It is very hard to run a successful marketing campaign, and a successful business, without doing this exercise and understanding these fundamentals.
You now have your own “why”. You know what your company stands for and why it exists. You can now reflect your own “why” throughout everything your company does.
After doing the exercise above, you now have a better understanding of who your ideal customers are and where to find them.
You are ready for marketing…but…
How do you make people buy your product/service?
Now the fun part starts.
You create a tribe of loyal customers, make them NEED your product/service and potentially WANT it.
Once you have an offer people can’t resist and you know who your target customers are, it’s time to dive in into exciting things such as:
- Paid ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Content marketing and SEO strategy
- Social Media strategy
- Email marketing
- Sales Funnels
- and so on.
But wait a second. Don’t rush investing thousands of dollars blindly into paid advertising or hiring a marketing firm just yet.
The old way of shouting the loudest to attract customers and trying to beat your competition by selling your widgets cheaper does not work in today’s economy.
If you start to follow what market tells you to do and compete on price, you will drive your business down into bankruptcy. Instead, as we discussed above, find your own market that wants to buy only from you and at the price you set.
So how do you find your ideal customers who want to buy from you?
With two words: value and authority.
Think about recent purchases you made.
They all brought some kind of value into your life: provided convenience, made your life easier/better, solved a pain or problem you had.
Now, where did you buy it?
If you think about streaming TV, Netflix comes to mind right away. What about when you think about a reliable car? Volvo. Where do you go to find stuff? Google. What comes to mind when thinking latte? Starbucks. Online shopping? Amazon.
Before starting an online marketing campaign for your business, you need to have a clear vision of what you are selling, who you are selling it to and what value are you bringing to your customers.
You need to be the Amazon, Google, Starbucks, Wal-Mart in your industry for your customers.
This is what makes your business invincible to the competition.
Well, but Max, how do I become an authority in my industry? I am just a [your profession] and there is so much competition. How do I stand above the clutter and dominate?
Start with Why. Give value. Build relationships.
Give 10x more value before asking for a transaction.
Educate your consumer. Get in front of your target audience and help them.
I won’t turn your world upside down when I tell you this – people are lazy. Even if you teach them how to do something, they will still get you to do it for them.
Be the authority in your niche/industry. Be the company/person your customers think of right away when they need products/services you offer.
Help people first, inspire them, and ask them for a favor (read: transaction) later. Most likely they will come to you with an open wallet without you even having to ask.
There are so many ways to connect with new potential customers online who are eagerly looking for what you can offer.
Here are some that can start the creative juices flowing for your own business. Notice the difference and scale when you add a “why” to a business:
- Are you a renovation contractor? Set up a YouTube/Facebook page and share your daily tips about renovating a house. Show process how you handle each project. Share tutorials and how to videos.
- After doing remodeling for some time you might discover your beliefs of preserving the nature and establishing a “why” for your business “to preserve the planet for future generations” and you start to invent and produce construction materials that have no impact on the environment.”
- Are you a web designer? Google businesses in your city and send them videos of you going over their websites with ways to improve them.
- You might discover that a lot of people struggle to sell their crafts and products online, due to the fact that it is hard for them to setup an online store and accept online payments. You create a system where even not a tech-savvy person can create an online store and start selling in 10 minutes. Your “why” can be “providing equal opportunities to every individual on the planet”.
- Are you a yoga teacher? Organize meditation meetups in a local park each Saturday morning and teach people meditation for free.
- After living in the city for years, you discover that a lot people have problems with sleep, stress levels, attention, and illnesses due to stress. You go on the journey to educate people about meditation and stress levels and establish a program to make mediation accessible to every person.
- Are you a photographer? Go to LinkedIn or Facebook and search for local executives and professionals. Offer them a headshot picture for free.
- To illustrate let me quote a mission statement from a small company that changed the video industry – Blackmagic Design but introducing video cameras that produce stunning image quality, at a small fraction of a price from the bigger companies who dominated the industry for decades. Look for a “why” in this statement: Blackmagic has grown rapidly to become one of the world’s leading innovators and manufacturers of creative video technology. And that’s because our philosophy is refreshing and simple – to help true creativity blossom. Here is what CEO of Blackmagic Design says: “Blackmagic Design is dedicated to allowing the highest quality video to be affordable to everyone, so the post production and television industry can become a truly creative industry.” Grant Petty-CEO. See the “why”? He set out to make his vision into a reality, to allow everyone an opportunity to be able to produce professional video.
- Are you a fitness instructor? Ask friends if anyone needs help with their workout routine. Record videos of proper diet, workouts. You can even start a blog.
- Your “why” which you believed in from the beginning might be that “every person should have an easy access to information and ways to stay healthy throughout their entire life.” Each of your products and services then follows this why, when you invent or sell unique fitness programs, daily diet meals delivery or even a restaurant with affordable healthy meals for those who wish to stay fit.
- Do you sell makeup or skin care products? Do make-up workshops and teach girls/women professional makeup tips. Record videos. Share them. Educate your customers and be their guide in the world of skin care.
- You vision and “why” might be “each woman on the planet is beautiful and that there are no beauty standards.” When you follow your “why”, you might set up a skin care line that focuses on products with only naturally derived ingredients and your marketing will showcase how your product just compliments the natural beauty of every woman.
- Are you a guitar teacher? Share tutorials how to learn guitar. Fail rate of self-taught students is so high that chances are they will be calling you to teach them anyways.
- When looking for your “why” you might discover that a lot of guitar students suffer from wrist tendonitis and you set out on the journey to create a guitar or a device that will make learning guitar a safe and painless experience for all.
Your main goal here is to provide as much value to your ideal clients as possible while always communicating your “why”.
Put yourself out there and connect with your customers on a human level.
Make your customers want to come to do business with you and only you at the price you set. How? By making sure that the value they get from the transaction, be it convenience, new emotions, solving their pains, is far superior to the price they pay for your product/service.
And remember one thing: people don’t care about you or your business. They care only about themselves, how your product/service makes them feel, and how your business/product/service can make their lives easier/better. And most importantly, people do care about your “why”.
Advertise what your customers WANT but sell them what they NEED. Remember this when spending money on marketing.
Always start with a “why” and continue to communicate your “why”, your belief, your vision, through everything your company does, from products/services to customer service, to marketing campaigns.
Change your customers’ lives and they will change yours.
Get out there. Do great things. And you will be rewarded.
P.S. I get excited anytime I write or talk about this stuff and yeah, you’ve guessed it: I’m often one of those buzzword-spitting partygoers of yours. If I’ve made you at least a fraction this excited, or awakened the marketing nerd in you, my day is made.
By the way, there are posts like this that I write every week so don’t forget to sign up to newsletter and join our beautiful business community. I also help businesses just like yours grow and get more customers online, so if yours could use a slingshot to the 22nd century, work with me.