So you know you want more customers, but have you ever asked yourself what kind of customers you want and what kind of customers want what you have to offer? Have you ever taken the time to define your target market and identify who they are, what they’re like, where/how you can most easily market to them, and why they want/need or don’t want/need the products or services you offer? Figuring out who you currently attracting and who you’d like to attract can help you better focus your marketing efforts and figure out creative ways to tailor your message — so it’s definitely worth doing. If you’ve never defined your target market or created buyer personas, here’s a six step guide to get you started.
#1 When figuring out your target market, the first things you want to look at are your current customer base and your customer wish list. Some of the questions you want to ask yourself is:
- What are your customers like? Where do they live? What ages are they? What about their income level and education level? Ethnic background? Gender? Are they married or single? Do they have children?
- Which customers bring the most business? What is that group of customers like?
- How did your best customers come to you? Was it through a word-of-mouth referral, a Google Ad, local search, the newspaper, etc.?
- Which type of customers would you like more of? Who is your dream customer? What are they like?
#2 Next, look to your competitors. What are their customers like? Who are they going after? If you really want to maximize your efforts, don’t go after the target market of your competitors; instead, choose a demographic or niche market that they don’t yet have in their pocket and go after those customers.
#3 Now take some time to look at the services or products you offer — what are the features and benefits? Why would anyone care about the benefits and features? How do they make life easier or better? It helps to look at your existing customers and ask yourself why they have come to you for your services or products. What problems are they trying to solve and how do you solve them?
#4 Once you’ve come up with a list of benefits and features, create a separate list of people who would want those benefits or features. Figure out who would care about the product or service you’re selling. Don’t forget to consider, not just who would benefit from your product or service, but also who would actually buy it. Do the people on your list have the means and motivation to follow through and purchase? This is another reason why it’s important to consider age and income level.
#5 Determine some of the finer details, like what the values, interests, and lifestyles of your existing customers and the customers you’d like to target are. How does your product or service fit with those values, interests, and lifestyles? And where would your target market likely look for what you have to offer? Do they look on Instagram, Facebook, in the newspaper, online, or do they look to their friends and family? Figuring out where your target gets their information will help you determine where your time, effort, and advertising dollars will be best spent.
#6 Now, take all of the information you’ve just gathered and create 1-5 buyer personas. A buyer persona is really just a fictional representation of the target customer you’ve defined. In a lot of ways, it’s a stereotype, but it’s the kind of stereotype that could benefit you. You don’t have to include everything you’ve determined about your target, but definitely include the basics. Here’s an example of a buyer persona:
Once you’ve created your buyer personas, it’s time to get started on targeting and attracting those people so you can reach more of the customers who want and need what you have to offer. Good luck!
There are two ways of thinking about customers: as transactions and as relationships. Have you ever stopped to consider which your customers are? If you don’t know which category you put your customers into, all you have to do is ask your customers, because the way you treat them is a direct reflection of which stance you take. They can tell whether you think of them as relationships or transactions by how you serve them.
So what’s the difference?
Transactions Don’t Create Connection & Lasting Impressions
When you think of your customers as mere transactions, you do your job, take what’s owed you, and leave. In your mind, you’ve done what was required or asked of you, and that’s the extent of things. There’s no need to go above and beyond. No need to follow-up. No need to make sure the customer is 100% satisfied. The end of the transaction is the end of the relationship.
So, what’s the harm in this thinking?
Well, for one, you’re not likely to provide the high level of service you’re capable of providing, because when it’s just a transaction, not a relationship, you simply won’t care as much as you could. You might provide adequate service, but you’re not going to go out of your way to provide memorable service. You’re not going to look for additional ways to serve your customers or make their lives better. You’re just going to do the job and then leave.
Engaging in transactional thinking is not how you build a loyal customer base. More and more, we see Google infiltrating organic results with Paid Ads, Yelp hiding positive reviews (supposedly because of an algorithm, not because you don’t pay for their service), and HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, and other companies trying to get a piece of the service pie by taking a cut of what you do in exchange for putting your name out there.
You don’t want to have to rely on search engines and paid services to keep business coming in. You don’t want the customers you have served to go right back to the search box the next time they need the services you provide. It costs 7 to 10x more to attract new customers than it does to retain customers, which means, you want those customers to keep coming back to you.
But when you think of your customers as transactions, they feel it, and they think of you and the service you provide as transactions as well, which means you’re just one ship in a sea of competitors. You’ve given them no reason to remain loyal to you, and they’re just as likely to use you as they are a competitor the next time they need service. At the end of the day, you’re left with a slew of transactions, not a slew of customers.
With this kind of thinking, you’re cheating yourself and your customers, and throwing money at a problem instead of fixing it. You’re missing an opportunity to realize the lasting impact you can have on your community. And you’re missing an opportunity to really become a part of your customers’ lives and find true meaning in your work.
Relationships Create Value
When you think of your customers as relationships, it changes everything. You’re suddenly considering them as people and looking for ways to provide exemplary service that goes above and beyond meeting their needs. You’re connecting with them, following up with them, asking them how their customer experience was, and letting them know you truly care about the way they feel at the end of the service.
You’re letting them know that you appreciate the opportunity to serve them, and that your relationship with them is a valuable one that you’re willing to invest in. And when a customer feels like a valued relationship, as opposed to a meaningless transaction, they’re not as likely to go out and start fresh with someone new the next time they need your services. They’ve already got a guy for that. They’ve already found a company that’s 100% capable of meeting their needs and caring for them. They’ve already connected with you and it’s not worth it for them to go back out and possibly be burned by a competitor.
So take some time to think about which category you put your customers in. If you’ve been thinking of your customers as transactions to complete as opposed to relationships to build and nurture, it’s time to make a cognitive shift.
No matter how prominent your ads are on Facebook or how stunning your website is, no one wants to do business with a service company that isn’t all that committed to serving people. So, why are you obsessing over the ROI (Return on Investment) of your social media efforts, campaigns, and Adwords, and constantly checking your rankings instead of doing a little internal work? If you want truly measurable returns that will exceed your expectations and develop true customer loyalty and keep business steady, it’s time to start focusing on the service you’re providing and the value you’re actually offering your customers.
Don’t Just Serve, Serve Well
Sure ROI matters, but in the service world, ROS (Return on Service) is where it’s at. Think about it: there are so many service businesses out there, and unless you’re incredibly lucky, chances are, you’re in an oversaturated market full of competitors. While marketing efforts, a big budget, strategic moves, and retention tools and techniques can help you stand out among competitors, there’s one thing (that you have total control over) that can make all the difference in the world: your service.
These days, it seems anyone can smack a sign on a truck and drive around town saying they’re the best, most qualified service provider in their local market. But not everyone has the service to back that up. Are your customers and potential customers really taking note of what makes you the best choice? What makes you different? Are you providing remarkable and consistent service and customer care to each person you come in contact with? If not, you’re missing out on some pretty fantastic returns.
Let’s face it: word-of-mouth and referrals are still the best methods of marketing. Are you giving your customers a reason to shout your company name from the roof tops? Are they shouting or ranting? To truly stand out today, you don’t need a bigger budget (although that sometimes helps); you need to invest in providing the best possible service, each and every time. When you do, your customers will do a lot of marketing for you, and when they need your services again, they won’t even think to Google another company or go with a cheaper price.
What Can You Do To Boost Your ROS?
Here are some ways you can really wow your customers and ensure unbeatable service:
Go the extra mile. You know there are competitors out there that can perform the same work you’re performing. But what can you offer above and beyond that service? Take the time on each and every service call to look for ways in which you can make the customer’s experience even better. Whether that means wearing booties and laying drop cloths or taking the time to listen to the customer and really hear them, if you open your eyes, there are so many little ways to make your services memorable and remarkable.
Hire service-oriented employees and make sure they’re happy. If your employees don’t have a heart for service, they’re in the wrong business. Think carefully about each new hire you bring into your company. Are they caring, friendly, understanding? If not, they probably shouldn’t be dealing with customers. After all, each interaction your employees have with your customers sends out a brand message, and you want to ensure that your customers are receiving consistent and caring messages. Make sure each employee has the knowledge, heart, and scripts to send out the message you intend your customers to receive. By treating your employees with care and communicating your values to each member of your team, you’ll be encouraging them to treat your customers with that same care and communicate those same values that make your company stand out from the rest.
Deliver on your word. Are you promising your customers one thing and delivering another? That’s the fastest way to send customers running. If you pride yourself on being the cleanest and most respectful chimney sweep in town, but show up to a house covered in soot, leaving footprints and ash all over the home, you’ve set one expectation and delivered something far different. Stand by your word! If your customers receive consistent service that meets their needs and speaks to what’s important to them, they won’t consider working with anyone else.
Don’t be right. Do right. We have a saying that goes around here at Spark Marketer: “Do you want to be right or do you want to win?” Sometimes your customer is “in the wrong.” Maybe they misunderstood a recommendation your techs made and blasted your company on Yelp for no good reason. It sucks, but it’s ok. Approach that customer with a little grace and a little empathy and take the time to make it right. Educate them on why your techs recommended the work they recommended, and seek out true understanding and harmony. Let them know that you’d like to make things right and that you value their satisfaction. You may have to eat a little humble pie, but in the end, you’ll have a happier, more loyal customer. And that is a big win.
Don’t Take It Personally
So, you’ve committed yourself to providing the best value and the highest quality, but you’ve still lost out to a lower bid. Unfortunately, even though quality may mean the world to you (and it should), it may not be the most important thing to every potential customer. Don’t take it personally! If you’re providing true value, honest estimates, and the best possible service and you get turned down, you can still walk away from that job with pride.
Educate your customers and let them know that, while there is more than one way to do something, you do things the right way. Take the time to explain to them what that looks like and why it matters. To some, like contractors focused on flipping houses as swiftly and inexpensively as possible, doing things “the right way” may not be all that important to them. Those aren’t the customers for you. Hold yourself to higher standards, make it obvious to those that do business with you or are considering doing business with you, and keep on trucking. You’ll develop a reputation that will do a lot of your marketing for you and have you reaping big returns.