Excerpt from the book “My Area Marketing” by Scott Channell
Your local marketing messages have three major objectives.
1. If a potential ideal client is unaware of you, your messaging must put you on their list of viable options to explore when they are ready to act.
2. If a future buyer is aware of you, your messaging must also favorably alter their impression of you. Awareness does not help you if it does not alter the lens future ideal buyers see you through. Your messaging must move you into the top-tier of choices.
3. Your messaging must also move future buyers to act. What do you want them to do? Is the next step to schedule a meeting, visit your store, call you, request a quote or go to your website and fill out a form for information or contact?
There is only One Question with Messaging.
What will your perfect prospects think?
Clients are not buying your service or product but the expectation of a better future.
You must communicate from your prospect’s point of view. The goal is to elevate yourself into the top tier of choices. You are seeking to communicate a competitive difference placing you at the top of a buyer’s vendor choice list.
If you are a newbie in an area that contains well known competitors with established reputations for providing what you offer, how are you going to compete?
Creating awareness alone will not be enough when you have competitors with awareness and positive perceptions of expertise, quality and/or convenience in the community. There are only so many buyers for what you offer in a local area. Your messaging must rip perfect prospects from the hands of competitors.
You must make inroads into the minds of future buyers so that you become the top tier option among better known, more established and favorably viewed competitors.
Business Lawyer Example.
True story. Entrepreneur goes looking for a business lawyer in their area. What is the first thing they do? Search online.
First online listing is for a well-known firm with an excellent reputation. The website is well designed and contains all the generic blah blah blah expected. In the buyer’s mind, this well-known firm has done nothing to eliminate themselves. Previous perceptions were confirmed. They are still an option.
Next listing is for a firm located farther away than preferred and the site does nothing to provide a reason for the trip. Next.
Another listing is a local firm. Their website contains general platitudes with the typical lowest common denominator messaging: How they really care about their clients, work tirelessly on their behalf and seek to make their community a better place. Nothing noteworthy here. Total yawn fest. Next.
The next listing is a bit different. The website itself is not very impressive compared to others. But in those few initial seconds, easy to see and visible “above the fold” were inviting headlines about client success stories.
This local marketer provided eye-catching headlines. These spotlighted specific examples of client advocacy. This “proved” the marketer’s expertise, caring and dedication to meeting the needs of clients. There was a call to action to fill in a form for more specific information relevant to that buyer.
Guess what? The solo practitioner with the subpar website won the business over a larger, better-known competitor. Why? Because her messaging communicated a competitive difference between her and those larger, better-known competitors.
Goal of Your Messaging.
Your messaging must reach and interact with enough ideal prospects with a consistent message sufficient to create a perception of a competitive difference and spur action toward you.
Gain a Foothold into a Targeted Niche.
Each future buyer will have a unique set of needs or wants. Specific criteria for purchase might involve money, time, convenience, ego, quality/expertise, features or what side of the street you are on.
Tailor your messaging to appeal to a subset of all buyers so they will move toward you, rather than the competition.
If your messaging can touch upon or nail a magic bullet solution to a problem or burning issue they face, you are communicating a message with a competitive difference that will win over a segment of future buyers.
Your offer of a free quote, consult or discount may not be enough to steer future buyers toward you if others offer the same. The same-old same-old will not be enough to compel action or tilt buying momentum toward you.
Your Future Ideal Buyers Define Value.
What you think is good enough may not be.
You must provide value. But your marketing messaging must also provide a perception of value in the mind of a specific ideal prospect or you don’t get the business.
That you in fact do a better job is not enough to win you the job today. Clients have doubts about providers. They cannot evaluate quality (as they perceive quality) before buying. Quality is determined after they make the buy decision.
Your messaging must resolve client doubt. Your future clients will have doubts diminished if you can relate actual stories of prior experiences similar to theirs.
A Lesson about Perceptions of Value.
As a young man in school, I worked on a construction crew building swimming pools in the summer. An in-ground pool can look great initially but be harder to maintain and fall apart quickly if not built right. There are things the client has no clue about. They can’t judge the quality of the concrete, whether the pipe is laid correctly, if drains have been placed correctly for easy maintenance or whether the pump and filter are the right one for them.
Those were the issues determining whether we, in fact, were doing a “good job.” But clients cannot make those judgments. So how did they decide whether we were doing a good job? They based it on whether the job site was clean.
I learned perceptions of value are as important as actual value. Our crew could do a fantastic high-quality job unsurpassed by competitors, but if the work site was messy, the clients would downgrade their perceptions of the quality of the work.
Your goal is to provide actual quality and value to a client and enable them to appreciate it. Your messaging must activate perceptions of value and be meaningful to a segment of potential buyers to get them in the first place.
If someone does not know you, is not referred to you or has no perceptions of your quality, whether you in fact keep your promises or do a good job will not win you the business alone.
You want to do a good job, but your messaging must be credible with proofs to create the perception you will do a good job.
How will Future Ideal Clients Distinguish You from the Competition?
Think about your point of entry.
What message would be sufficient for a future ideal client to not only notice you but perceive a competitive difference over your competition?
If you have been around a long time and have a solid reputation, you may have many satisfied clients or customers singing your praises. You might attract a lot of business with messaging merely reminding buyers of your existence.
But if that is not your situation, your messaging must create a force, steering buyers away from larger, better known competitors to you.
How are future clients to distinguish you from all the rest? It is the only thing that matters.
Move up the Ladder in the Minds of Active Ideal Buyers.
If you are unknown to them, your messaging must be visible and good enough to make perfect prospects perceive you as a viable option to check out, at a minimum.
If buyers are aware of you but have not formed an impression about where you rank among their options, your messaging must be powerful enough to propel you to the top.
If you are perceived to be a “maybe” option or a run-of-the-mill nothing special provider or advisor, your messaging must impact indifference in the minds of perfect prospects powerfully enough to bounce you into the top tier of options and hopefully the #1 spot of vendor choices.
A message perceived to be same-old same-old, who cares, a nothing special here snore fest, will soon be forgotten if noticed at all.
And if buyers already have you as a top tier option, your messaging must not only reinforce the impression, but sharpen the competitive difference to vault you into the #1 spot in their minds.
Buyers Seek a Better Future.
Buyers are seeking to improve their lives, homes and businesses.
You want messaging enabling future buyers to exclaim, “That’s what I want. This looks like the person, store or company best for me.”
Strategically, your marketing must reach and convey a message to enough active buyers in your area and then spur them to take an action along the road to a purchase.
Think of the benefits valued by clients.
Think of how you are going to allay doubts that you are the best choice. What proof can you offer?
Think of different headlines to appeal to segments of your ideal client target market.
If there are certain triggers or life events leading to a purchase, your buyers must know you, or easily find you, and have a perception you can provide the value they seek.
Some combination of experience, quality, convenience, delivery, proofs, speed, service experience, bundling or guarantee must create a competitive difference.
Future ideal clients must know you and perceive that difference.