Van Halen was one of the greatest rock bands of the 80s. Eddie Van Halen revolutionized heavy rock’n’roll guitar playing, and paved the way for a new crop of guitar virtuosos. Original lead singer David Lee Roth whooped and hollered on every song, injecting an infectious energy that made crowds go wild.
But when they were starting out they didn’t play any original songs at their wild house parties or their early club gigs at Gazzarri’s on the sunset strip. Their set consisted mostly of cover songs, because that’s what the crowd wanted. In fact their crowd favorite was Kiss’s “Rock’n’Roll All Nite.”
But their reputation grew, as well as their unique style. Every now and then they slipped in their own tune, and the crowd loved it! They started playing more original tunes until eventually they felt comfortable enough playing a 100% original set.
Van Halen knew that to become popular they had to play the songs that were popular with teens at the time. Though their own tunes were great, their fans weren’t familiar with them, and they didn’t know they liked Van Halen original tunes – yet.
Why do I bring up Van Halen (besides the fact that they were my favorite band as teen)? Because their story applies to you as a business owner or marketer.
You may have a product or service offering that is in a new category or is not an obvious solution to what consumers want.
Selling what customers want
Bob Regnerus in his book “Big Ticket Ecommerce” talks about a hypothetical dilemma experienced by a seller of nutritional solutions for diabetes. Most diabetics view their problem as a medical issue, so if they go online they might Google terms such as “insulin for diabetes” or something else with a medical term.
The seller of that nutritional solution would fail miserably if she tried to sell nutritional solutions to those suffering from diabetes. Her audience is not looking for nutritional solutions.
So what is she to do?
Regnerus’ solution: use the words that customer is thinking about to introduce your solution. So for example, the seller of nutritional solutions for diabetes could place a Google ad that says “How to Reduce Blood Glucose without Insulin.”
Interestingly enough, that phrase uses two words the prospect is already thinking about.
But let’s talk about you – how can you attract customers to your offering when they’re not even thinking about your type of product?
3 steps to get customers who don’t know the need you
Now I want you to pay close attention here, because not only am I going to show you the steps to attract clients who don’t realize they need your product or service, I’m also going to demonstrate it. For this demonstration, I’m going to need a volunteer from the audience!
Go to where your customers are
This should really go without saying, but in today’s world dominated by digital technology and the world wide web, the first place you should be going to find new customers is the internet. If you have any doubts about this check out this post by Mitch Joel.
If you’re still not convinced then maybe this article isn’t for you.
So where do you find your customers on the internet? They have their favorite haunts: their preferred blogs, news sites, social media destinations, email newsletters, podcasts.
Let me give you an example from a consulting business I ran for a few years, Latin IT Marketing. My target customers were software consulting companies in Mexico and other Latin American countries who wanted to sell software outsourcing services to American companies. Through research I found out there were several groups on Linkedin dedicated to “nearshore outsourcing.” (My target customers were referred to as nearshore outsourcers, to differentiate themselves from offshore outsourcing vendors from India and China).
There was also an online publication targeting this industry, Nearshore Americas.
Perfect, I found out where my target audience hung out!
So I started writing blog posts (in Spanish) about “How to Market Your Services in the U.S. Market.” I started sharing my posts in the various nearshore Linkedin groups. I also approached Nearshore Americas and asked if they needed any guest writers, and they said yes! So I wrote a monthly column for them about nearshore marketing.
And then nothing.
My blog posts and articles barely registered a blip on my own Google Analytics. I wasn’t getting any comments, and nobody was hitting my “contact us” form.
I scratched my head and pondered, and then I went back to my Google Analytics and I found a clue: the few times people actually did get to my site via a Google search was through the keyword “How to Sell.” I guess I had inadvertently let the word “Sell” slip into one of my blog posts.
I then asked a couple of friends of mine who owned nearshore outsourcing companies, and they confirmed my suspicions: software consulting companies, from Mexico on down to Argentina, don’t care about marketing. They don’t think about it. To them marketing is an expensive “nice to have” for large consumer goods companies.
What these software firms wanted were sales. Actually, they wanted an independent sales person who sells software and service on commission to generate business for them – for free! And of course they would pay them a commission.
I remember one firm contacted me asking if I would generate leads for them, and then they would of course pay me a commission for any lead I sent them that turned into a sale.
But that provided me with a fantastic insight into the psychology of my target market. This led me to my next realization…
Provide them valuable info that speaks to their current worldview
At the suggestion of my good friend and sales and marketing consultant Jim Logan, I decided to write a free eBook that I would give away to my target audience. I titled the book: “5 Steps for Successfully Entering the U.S. Software Market.”
I purposefully left out any mention of “marketing.”
The book was full of marketing strategy and marketing tactics, but I avoided using the word “marketing” as much as possible. The book was all about how to enter the U.S. market – with a twist.
The twist I added, and this is where I differentiated myself, was how to use internet technologies to establish a strategic competitive advantage. I subtly introduced my audience to the concept of content marketing and inbound marketing by couching it in terms they could relate to. How to enter the U.S. market and sell your services, and how to use internet technology to gain a competitive advantage.
The result? I started getting subscriptions to my newsletter, inbound inquiries via email and through social media, and inbound phone calls.
I got my first three clients this way: two Mexican firms and one Argentinean firm. They hired me to do what I wanted to do in the first place: provide marketing services.
But that’s not the end of the story – not for me, and not for you.
Keep offering them consistently valuable content to change hearts and minds
Changing hearts and minds is a hard thing to do (and not something I recommend – seriously). Even Seth Godin in his book “All Marketers are Liars Tell Stories,” says it’s better to sell to a certain worldview than try to convince people to change their current worldview.
But sometimes it’s unavoidable.
If you’re able to first identify where your customers hang out, then figure out what their view of their problem is and the type of solution they need, you then have to get them to gradually know, like and trust you.
The way to do this is by continuing to provide them with consistent, valuable information that makes their day and answers their questions.
This is where you have to get out of yourself and into their mind.
If you already provided them with a piece of epic content like an initial eBook, or maybe you produced a video, or gave a webinar or something which has the same effect as an eBook, that’s just a start. That just gets you in the door.
The rest of the journey consists of continuing that conversation. Publish to a blog every day, or maybe every week. Produce a weekly podcast. Give a free class at your local chamber of commerce on a monthly basis.
But only talk about issues your prospects care about. Be careful to provide them with content that is inherently valuable – the value has to stand on its own. As marketer Jay Baer says, create marketing (content) “so valuable people would pay for it.”
Why does your content have to be so valuable to your customers? Because what you want to do at this stage is to build up trust with your prospects. The more they see you care, the more they’ll care about what you know, as the old cliché says.
By showing you understand their issues, and by displaying your expertise, the easier it is to introduce them to new ways of thinking.
A word of warning about your valuable content: don’t just pander to your prospects either. Provide valuable information according to their worldview, but be up front and assertive in promoting your new way of thinking.
Marketer Jay Abraham refers to this as the Strategy of Preeminence.
Conclusion: how your participation in this demonstration has panned out
So you may be asking yourself: how did I demonstrate this concept? Let me ask you: how did I do in convincing you?
You probably started reading this article because you were interested in learning about how to get those ungettable customers.
I eventually convinced you (or at least tried to convince you) through the use of the valuable content in this blog post that you should provide valuable content for your customers that addresses their own world view so you can get them to know, like and trust you (for more on this, read about the value marketing approach).
How did I do?
If you have any feedback on what I discussed here, I would appreciate hearing about it in the comments section below. Thanks!
Originally published on our sister blog.