The market is crowded.
No matter what you do, what you sell, your customers have a lot of options. And that can feel really overwhelming for a lot of business owners - how do I make sure that my brand gets attention when customers have so many options to choose from?
The best products and services should rise to the top in any marketplace, but people running good businesses all over the place know that isn't what always happens. Instead, the companies that speak most clearly about what they do - those are the ones that win.
Here's how to make sure that you're laying the foundation in your marketplace for your business to cut through the noise and really get your customer's attention.
You need to get crystal clear on these 3 critical components in order to build traction in the market and set your company up for success:
Identifying your audience means you’re not just clear on who you’re targeting, you’re clear on who they are. That means you know what they’re struggling with, what they want to achieve, and what’s stopping them from getting there. Within the context of the story that your audience is living, their problems exist on 3 fundamental levels:
- The External Problem: These are the physical, tangible things that stop your customer from winning the day or achieving what they want to achieve. They are overweight, they have a bad haircut, their yard is overgrown with weeds. Whatever the immediately obvious issue is that’s facing them, that’s the external problem.
- The Internal Problem: This is how your customer feels about the problem they’re facing. Are they feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, frustrated, hopeless, defeated, isolated, or afraid? Imagine you were going through what they’re going through - how would you be feeling about it? That’s the internal problem.
- The Philosophical Problem: This is where we start talking from a birds-eye perspective. On a grand scale, why is it wrong that your customer is experiencing the things they’re experiencing? Use words like should, ought to, and deserve here. “You shouldn’t have to worry about [things like that] getting in the way of the life you want for yourself and your family.”
The crux of a well-told story is that the hero of the story (your customer) is living with problems that they don’t know how to get rid of, and that those problems keep them from getting what they want or where they want to be.
As you tell the story and present yourself in your marketing and branding as the guide that can lead them out of their problems, it’s critical that you show them how well you understand their struggles.
The goal is to get their head nodding so that you can step in with a solution that makes you the obvious choice to get their business.
“You’re struggling to deal with [external problem], and it’s probably leaving you feeling [internal problem]. At [your company], we don’t think that’s fair. You deserve a [widget] that lets you [goal/ideal solution].”
Once you’ve gotten really clear on their problems, the next step is to get really clear on the thing you offer them. Be very specific about what they get, how much it costs, and what it will look like for you to provide it to them.
Now isn’t the time to say that you provide “elegant dessert solutions” or “spiritual life change for creative geniuses.” I don’t know what those are.
A good way to think about the way you talk about your offer is this:
If you were to put the thing you offer inside a paper bag that they couldn’t see into and then you labeled the outside of the bag, would that label get them to buy after you talked about their problems?
Which would you buy? “A dozen warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies” or “elegant dessert solutions?”
Last, once you’ve gotten really clear on what your customer needs and what you’re going to offer them, you can start to think about your brand.
Your brand is your reputation. It’s the set of feelings that your customers get when they hear your name. It’s not your logo or your colors or the fonts you use. It’s the voice you speak with and the words you say in addition to what you look like as a company.
In just about every market, you’re not the only one selling what you’re selling. Your customer can get chocolate chip cookies from a lot of places. Your brand is what makes your customer buy them from you over all the other choices they’ve got.
One of the best ways to do this is to think about all of your competitors and plot them on a set of charts - an X/Y axis that shows where you fall on the spectrum of qualities in your marketplace. Here’s what I mean:
Choose a couple of brand characteristics that make sense for your industry, and their opposites, like these:
Notice that none of these traits are inherently negative - you’re not making a choice between good and bad. You’re choosing between 2 perfectly viable options to find out how you fit into the marketplace.
For a lot of companies, especially those run by a single person, the brand will largely be reflective of the owner’s personality.
Once you’ve established your customer’s goals, their problems, and what you have in your paper bag to solve your customer’s problems, you can start thinking about your brand in terms of the qualities you want to embody.
By doing that, you set your brand apart from all of your competition and can find exactly the right people to serve with exactly what they need.
Not sure what your business' next step should be? I'll help you implement a framework I've used over and over again with businesses in dozens of different markets. It worked to grow their businesses, and it will work for you too.
All you've got to do is book a call to get started.
Book a free strategy session with our team today and get your business on the right path.