Marketing Wisdom 101 – Your Prospects Don't Care About You

Your prospects don’t give a damn about you. They couldn’t care less about your goods or services. Like you, they’re selfish. They only care about themselves, their own needs and desires. So where does that leave marketers and content creators? 

The best marketers bear human nature in mind

It’s no good shouting about how much better your product is than anyone else’s. People don’t care. It’s no good banging on about the bells and whistles. They don’t give a stuff. Your prospects only care about one thing – themselves. And that’s fair enough. It’s what we all do.
As a prospect you have the money. You’re in a position of power. As a business you’re beholden to consumers, the people with the cash. You don’t drive sales, they do. If you want people to buy from you, you have to give them what they want. And that means making it clear what your products and services do for people, how they make life better. It’s about the benefits of a product or service rather than its features.

  • We don’t buy a trendy haircut from an experienced hairdresser. We buy self confidence
  • We don’t buy a car with back seat passenger airbags. We buy safety for our families
  • We don’t buy foods made from natural ingredients. We buy better health and a longer life

Giving people their heart’s desire

To succeed at marketing, you have to figure out what people really want. How do you find out? You could take your marketing head off, remember you’re a consumer too, and use your imagination. That will help. You could ask your prospects via a short questionnaire, quiz or poll. That’ll help too. And you can listen to your existing customers. What do they love best about the stuff you sell? Does it do something they don’t like? Does it fail at something they’d like it to do? What are the questions people ask most frequently, and what is the commonest complaint you get?
If your business is big enough to have a customer service or sales department, you’re in luck. Your sales and service staff are at the frontline, so talk to them. If you’re a small business without sales or service staff, your FAQ page holds lots of tasty clues… provided they really are your most frequently asked questions, not just a thinly-disguised sales pitch.
So… start with the consumer in mind, not your product or service. Figure out what they want. Then place their desires at the centre of your messages and you should sell more.

An example of ignoring what consumers want

Company X sells good value cleaning products with a difference. The first time you buy, you’re sent a series of rugged, re-usable containers as well as the products themselves. When you run out, you re-order the products, which arrive in cheap packaging, then decant them into your existing containers, cutting packaging waste and reducing the cost of the products themselves.
So far, so good. It’s a fantastic idea. The problem is, company X insists that their customers re-order all their products at the same time. You might have run out of washing up liquid but have plenty of washing powder left. But they force you to re-order washing powder anyway.
It’s a simple thing, but it completely put me off what was otherwise a great proposition. I don’t want to stockpile supplies of products I don’t need, and I couldn’t figure out how to make sure I ran out of everything at the same time. I emailed to ask if I could only re-order the products I’d actually run out of, but they said no. So I bailed. I still use the containers they sent, mind you, since they’re so handy and such good quality.
That looks very much like a missed opportunity. Assuming that other people feel the same, company X has made impressive efforts to ignore customers’ needs. I imagine they’ve never really reached their potential. What do you think?

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