I looked at Sarah as she wrung both of her hands together in a circular motion. She was so stressed out as she told me that she didn’t know what to do to because she kept getting the same type of customers over and over. Her customers would hmm and haw regarding her prices and would often try to get her to lower them. The clients that she was accepting required a lot of hand-holding, took up a great deal of her time, and most of all, didn’t want to pay her for the transformations that she created for them. Sarah had a major brand positioning problem and she didn’t even know it.
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BL108: I Told Her, “You’ve Got a Positioning Problem
I asked her, “Who is your customer?”
Her response, “To be truthful with you, Marcia, I don’t have any particular customer. They vary because they’re all from different walks of life in their businesses. I work with anyone who has the money, you know what I mean? Because I’m flexible, my skill set can be catered to any person who has the ability to pay. But I still don’t know what’s wrong. I mean I’m marketing my business to the masses consistently so I assumed that I’d be making more money, but I’m not. I’m not making what I thought I’d be making and my time is pretty much shot. I have very little time to do the things that I’d like to do. I think that I’m an awesome designer and I want my clients to know that so that’s one of the reasons why I’m so open to helping anyone that needs design help. I don’t take preference over another person. I want to keep my options open. You never know, I may just land the perfect client without me having to narrow down to a select group of people.”
In becoming a master of helping everyone, you become a master of helping no one.
What Sarah didn’t realize was that positioning her brand and selecting a specific group(s) of customers to focus on was not taking preference over another group of customers or even the masses. No business is called to serve everyone. And furthermore, all people are different with different needs, values, worldviews, and the list can go on. So how can a person market his or her business to everyone with such a huge variance in personalities and belief systems? It’s pretty much impossible. Some issues that Sarah faced of being everything to everyone were that she lacked focus on her goals for her business, she spread herself way too thin (which is a sure-fire way to burn-out), and she created unnecessary stress for both herself and her business.
The goal for your business, brand and the type of customers that you want are closely related. The money that comes into your organization is directly tied to your marketing. You need to make money as a business in order to survive. If you don’t have time for marketing and targeting the right customers then your business will dry up. And if you don’t know who you’re marketing to, then your brand positioning will be completely sabotaged. How can you create a marketing campaign without understanding who you’re targeting your products and services to? Not knowing who your customers are and their behaviors (whether they’re current or ideal customers) is a costly mistake that can be avoided.
In an earlier post that I published, The Power of Knowing and Using Your Brand Positioning, I discussed how the world famous coffee company Starbucks® successfully positioned their brand creating its own category in the marketplace that changed the entire coffee industry. Guess what they had to do first? They had to understand who they were creating their products and services for. Because Starbucks® knows and understands who their customers are, they’re able to charge 5 or 6 bucks for a coffee drink, are able to experiment with different products and services that align with their brand such as feedback/suggestions from their customers (with their My Starbucks Idea® website), drive thru services, ordering online for pickup services, etc. And their customers appreciate it because Starbucks® tapped into why people purchase their coffee as opposed to going to a cheaper competitor. An important part of developing your brand is knowing who your ideal customers are and how to position it in the marketplace so that both your customers and your business have a win-win situation. You can’t position your brand properly if you don’t have a good grasp on who you’re specifically selling to.
Let’s go back to Sarah. She knows who she wants to work with—interior designers. Because she wants multiple interior design clients with various aesthetics, Sarah would need to get more specific by breaking down (or segmenting) those clients based on those aesthetics. For instance, she wants to work with eclectic and traditional interior designers. Since she wants to work with both, she has to create two different ideal customer avatars because each group has different needs as well as styles. She would position her brand as flexible and possibly innovative with an eclectic flair. To capture the traditional interior designers, she’d have to position her brand with a more stable, secure aesthetic. She wouldn’t show the majority of her work with traditional design to an eclectic interior designer or vice versa. Her messaging in her marketing would be geared more towards capturing each of those particular audiences. Now here’s the tricky part, although the way that Sarah communicates with each of her target audiences will differ, her overall brand message will not change. I shared with Sarah our Ideal Customer Avatar Master Plan worksheet packet that was originally developed for my agency’s marketing efforts. We use it to this day when creating marketing strategies. Having ideal customer avatars helped Sarah gain a better understanding of each customer segment that she wanted to work with, with a more detailed bird’s eye view that now currently serves as her very own blueprint for her marketing communications. Now Sarah fully understands why she needed to make a shift in her thinking and brand positioning. She’s on the path to getting the customers that she wants for her business in a more strategic way with less stress.
Here’s One Way To Fix Your Brand Positioning If It’s Broken
There are other ways to fix your brand positioning but I’m going to focus on only one in this post. Your brand positioning (or where and how your business sits in the marketplace among other businesses that offer the same or similar services as yours) is a reflection of how well you understand and communicate your brand from the inside out and needs to be focused on the customers that you want as well as the customers that you currently have. Get a strong grasp on understanding who your customers are and what they think about, what they enjoy, how they interact with others, etc. Ask yourself the following questions to begin positioning or repositioning your brand:
WHO is our customer or who do we want our customer to be that is likely to buy our products and or services?
WHAT do they want or need?
WHY are our ideal customers buying our products and services or why do we want them to buy our products and services)?
WHY should they buy from us when there are other businesses that may offer the same or similar products and services?
These are just a few questions to think about. To go deeper into detail about who your customers are, download the Ideal Customer Avatar Master Plan worksheet below. Having an avatar will help you target your marketing efforts to your ideal customer(s) empowering your marketing to be more meaningful and relevant, not one-sided, to those customers that your business is called to serve. Understanding your customers and what they want or need creates a connection that cannot be denied. Take the next step. Click the link below to this post, download, and use the Ideal Customer Avatar Master Plan worksheet packet before you develop any products, services, or strategies for your business.
Sometimes trying to understand how to genuinely connect with your customers can be a bit confusing or even overwhelming. If you need help in developing your customer avatar or gaining more clarity with your brand, feel free to reach out to us by visiting our Contact page or by clicking the link below.