Marketing matters

There are two common pitfalls in marketing your business: one is to take yourself for granted and the other is to take your customers for granted. There are days when routines drive us and long task lists dominate our every waking thought. On those days we may forget that no matter what our product, at the heart of our work is relationships.

Here are two questions that if asked regularly will make a positive difference to how you think about marketing your business:

1. What would my customer’s lives be like if my company didn’t exist?
Asking yourself this question forces you to look at what is unique or special about your company. If you take your business seriously then it’s likely that your products and services make a significant difference to people’s lives. So much so that they are willing to spend time, effort and money with you.

It’s shocking how many times women in particular casually put themselves down in conversation even when talking about their own business. If you don’t value yourself, it’s very hard to authentically convey your value to others. Self-doubt can be a useful and healthy thing but when it becomes a habit, it’s a problem.

One way to re-connect with the value you are creating is to ask a few of your loyal customers to talk in depth about what you give them, how your product makes them feel and what they see in you. I don’t mean hire a research team to do it for you, although that has its place. I mean make a few calls yourself. If you really listen intently to both the words and the tone they use, the answers may surprise and inspire you. It may even move you. If not, you will know it’s time to look for where improvements can be made.

Three things you can do today to get back in touch with the true magic of your business:

• Remind yourself of a time when you went the extra mile for a customer and the effect it had on them and you.

• Ask yourself, how does your product or service impact the world in general? Yes I do mean ‘the world’ – it’s a good exercise to think about the ripple effect your business could have.

• Ask a loyal customer why they stick with you.

2. What would my life be like if my customers didn’t exist?
How much do you value your customers? “100 percent” you may reply, but do you ever take them for granted, even just a little bit? Do you ever moan about them? Without customers, you would have no business. Consider also, that without customers you would lose a core purpose in your life. That may sound extreme but think about it: you spend most of your waking life at work, making a difference to other people’s lives.

Customers are like any other relationship in your life in that occasionally people need to hear, see and feel that they are valued. How do your customers know for certain that you value them? Think about yourself as a customer for a moment. Think about those companies that treat you as just another routine part of their day and then about the companies that make you feel special. The ones that do the most wonderful, unexpected things. Most people will choose to recommend the latter.

In today’s challenging times, people are looking more than ever for extra value and certainty. Being treated as valuable can make the difference between someone putting up with routine service or choosing to find special treatment elsewhere. It doesn’t have to cost you more money, it just needs to come from the heart.

Three things you can do today to remember your good fortune:

• Think about where customers have placed their trust in you and what a privilege that is.

• Think of your first or earliest customers and mentally thank them for getting you off to a good start (if you can find them and do it in person, even better!).

• Tell or show a loyal customer how much you value them.

You may notice this process leaves you feeling energised and thinking more creatively. You might want to use some of the words, thoughts and ideas arising out of these exercises to inspire your team and to inform your future communications.