Your Business is Customer Centric – Yeah Right!

Ineffective websites – not talking the language of customers

Most businesses in NZ suck at marketing.  They under invest in sales activities and in many cases waste marketing spend creating campaigns, websites and newsletters that do not appeal to their target audience.

Too often the “just do it” drive and focus on “pretty” means businesses do not take the time to extract a powerful core message, “story” and purpose to drive their business and marketing campaigns. All this results in what I call “crap in – crap out” marketing and business planning. Evident by the number of company web sites that have weak selling messages and non- focused businesses selling to everyone.

What I am suggesting is slow down long enough to analyse your customers world and re-purpose your business on what’s important – your customer.

Most web design companies do not have the capability to extract your core marketing messages; they lack the breadth of business and market knowledge. Like any process the better the input  (the design brief) the better the output – you need to own the brief.

When asked – most if not all businesses will proclaim they are customer centric.  If you asked all of your staff “what does our business do?”, how many unprompted would mention the problem you solve for your customers vs how you solve it or what your core “craft” is.

An emphatic focus on the customer and solving their pain is crucial element of all business success.

Ask a business that creates software, what sort of business they are and they will invariably come back with “we are a software company”.  This is not surprising, given they spend most of their life thinking and creating software products.  The reality is their customers do not care at all about the software, they primarily care about what the software does for them (how they measure success).  No matter what your craft is whether it’s: software, science, baking cakes or fixing bicycles it is never about your craft for the purchaser.  Your customers are primarily interested in WIFM (what’s in it for me) and that will include how they measure success.
In the B2B environment more often than not customers want increased sales, productivity or cost reduction. In the B2C place in many cases it comes back to some form of “experience”. What pain or problem are you solving for your customer? What is your customer’s measure of success?

 Successful businesses base all their business activities around solving customer problems, continually reference and reinforce their key selling points and how their customers measure success.

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Make sure your web sites lead story is about solving the customer’s problem and the outcome they get, rather than how you solve it. Use the language of your customer not your internal how we do it language. Once you hook them with the what, then tell them how, not before.

Don’t forget the three most power tools for communicating customer success are: customer stories, contrast (with and without your product) and quantifying the outcome they get.

The better and more succinct the definition of your customer pain and your solutions outcome, the more powerful your marketing and other business activities will become.

Suffering “the curse of knowledge”, we are simply to close and pre-occupied with how we solve the problem, to articulate the new buyer trigger points. My suggestion is get a 3rd party who understands your craft to help unravel the customer need, to create a better creative briefs and core purpose to drive business activities.

This focus on customer equally works for your business planning and day to day operations. You can use the power of a succinct purpose to empower your staff to make better decisions on the fly.  Remember the Williams Formula One Team mantra – we make the car go faster. Any one on the team can make decisions on the spot: does this activity make the car go faster? Then lets do it!

 How does your business stack up?

 Customer centric test:

  1. Does your website use your customer’s language (outcomes) or yours? (Features or benefits)
  2. Do you begin customer discussions with how you will solve, rather than the problem or outcome?
  3. Have you asked current customers, Particularly repeat customers, why they buy from you? Have you included their response in your messaging?
  4. Do you use the customer problem to help decide what you do and don’t do in your business?
  5. If any of your staff were asked what do you do – will they give a customer centric response?
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10 tips for creating interest in technology companies

Most deals are completed by not who we talk to, but who our audiences talk to… “Its not what you say, it’s what they pass on that counts”

The acid test of your pitch is did it get passed on and ultimately did it go viral.

Talking  in the language of our target audience not ours takes practice. If you are a scientist and/or technologist seeking endorsement and funding from investors, start talking their language.

Here are 10 tips to creating effective pitches:

  1. Get attention be different – Opening WOW.
    Stand out from the crowd, wake people up.   Just because you have their physical presence you do not have their mind.
    Don’t be boring.
  2. Be succinct  – Talk in simple 10-30 sec sound bites, create a 3 min version first.
    Long messages are hard to process and seldom get passed on. The power of your message is inversely proportional to the number of words used.
  3. Build simple context for relevance
    The more complex the technology, the greater the need to add a 10-30 sec statement that simply explains why we should care about this topic and why is it relevant to other people.
  4. Customer Stories engage audiences
    The most powerful way to explain a technology is to give us an example client, their problem and what difference your solution makes for them.  Customer cases are proven to be 80% efficient in closing sales. Ignore the temptation to explain how your technology works – its secondary, almost irrelevant, wait to be asked.
  5. Contrast & quantify outcomes not technology– (with & without)
    Build on your customer story by quantifying the difference your product made comparing life before and after your product. Audiences like black and white, not complicated shades of grey.
  6. Explain your business model – including how you make money and go to market.
    Use the business model canvas or a variant of it to illustrate your business model in a page.
  7. How you say it is more relevant than what you say
    Research showed that message impact is determined 7% by content, the rest is by body language and voice (vocal variety). Don’t make your pitch boring by the way you deliver it.
  8. Investors invest in people first – technology second
    Tell us something about your team and why with them on board this project/venture will succeed.
  9. Be clear about both where you are today and what your BHAG is
    inspire use with your vision, but show us how you will get from where you are to the end goal
  10. Be true yourself and your brand
    Authenticity and personality counts- have a character and a way and be proud of it

And do not forget to listen … pitching is all about baiting an audience to begin an intelligent  two way conversation…

more on this topic including an elevator pitch template >

5 Tips for Presentations – Matthew Homann

Matt Homann recently posted his top 10 rules on creating  presentation slides on his blog.

Here are my pick of the top 5 from his post:

1.  Unless your presentation tells a story, the audience won’t care about the ending — they’ll just pray for it.

2.  The average person remembers just three things from your presentation. Great speakers make certain everyone remembers the same three things.

3.  Your audience’s attention is a lot like your virginity. You only get to lose it once.

4. The number of words on a slide is inversely proportional to the attention your audience will give it.

5.  Never read your slides. When you do, it suggests to your audience you think they’re incapable of doing so themselves.

Go to Matt Homann’s blog to read his full list of the top 10

website:  http://www.lexthinkllc.com/
blog:  http://thenonbillablehour.typepad.com/nonbillable_hour/ten-rules/