Your customers are speaking
a different language than they were
a few months ago…We, as business owners and marketers, have failed to realize that the game has completely changed.
Our customers are speaking a different language than they were even 3 months ago. The sales tactics that worked a few months ago won’t work now without major tweaking. Furthermore, I don’t see any business that has really picked up on our customers’ new language.
This came to light when I wrote a sales letter for a new product I released today. So far, the product hasn’t sold as well as my last one (which I released in September) did, even though in my opinion it’s as good or better than my last product.
In analyzing my sales copy, I felt there was something big I was missing. Then, in a flash, it hit me:
I wasn’t acknowledging the effect the recession is having on customers’ thinking.
I tend to blow off the negativity in the media; scoffing since the malls are still crowded and sales are only down a few percent from last year. I shrug it off. But that’s a mistake — because it’s causing a disconnect between my customers and me.
The New Story Your Customers Are Telling Themselves
A few months ago, in September, many business owners had this mindset: “I’m happy to invest in pretty much anything that is guaranteed to increase my business in some way.”
Now, what are business owners saying? “I’m going to be really cautious. The product or service not only has to increase my business, but it has to be cost-effective. And even then, I may skip it, since I’m interested in conserving my cash and making sure I can pay all my bills in 2009.”
It’s even worse if you’re selling direct to consumers. Their story has changed from “I’ll buy just about anything to make me or my family happy” to “I’m only buying the things we really need.” Or worse…”I’m simply not buying anything that can possibly wait until next year.”
Our customers’ underlying attitude has shifted to fear. Yet our marketing messages are still the same, parroting how customers can make more money, have more fun, or be happier.
We haven’t changed our marketing to account for many who are worried about losing jobs, having a business that will make less next year than it did this year, or who simply don’t know whether they will be able to pay their mortgage. We haven’t acknowledged our customers’ fear.
I have seen some banks attempt to acknowledge customer fear by running ads saying they won’t go out of business since they are well-capitalized. While on the right track, that marketing falls short, too. Going out of business is a story about you, not your customer. Your customer is likely less worried about you going out of business than they are about being able to pay their own bills.
How To Identify With Your Customers Today
It’s time to acknowledge where your customers are today. They’re worried. They don’t know what the future holds. They’re not sure if next year will be better or worse than this year, but they privately think it may be worse.
You must state all of this clearly in your marketing and communications, or you risk losing your customer base.
More than ever, our customers need hope. Take their fear and move them to a higher level. Build them a bridge to a better tomorrow. Show them, step by step, a path to make themselves better in some way. Reassure them that no matter what happens in the world around them, they can still be happy themselves. We all need to hear more of that right now.
This type of marketing and customer communications, done sincerely, will be the difference between the successful companies in 2009 and the ones that fall by the wayside. Start by letting your customers know you feel their pain. It’s time to step up.
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