Stop Asking Customers What They Want, And Use Inbound Marketing To Tell Them
At the height of the SUV revolution, do you think customers would have asked for a super tiny car like the Mini? Do you think anyone would have imagined a touch-screen phone and camera all in one? What about TV channels that are separate from the cable subscription? No way. Your customers don’t know what they want; they need you to tell them.
Ever watch a focus group? People are great at telling you what other people think or what other people are doing. Sure, they have opinions, but those are guided by their experiences with other products and other services. These groups are good for making your company look like your competitors. If you want your business to be truly remarkable and differentiated, your customers are not the source for inspiration.
How Inbound Helps You Deliver "Remarkable"
If you’re thinking about running an inbound marketing program, make sure you’re investing in the strategy portion of the inbound engagement. This is where you work through an understanding of your prospect’s pains to create solutions that deliver "remarkable" for your customers. Edgecrafting is an exercise that helps you push your business solutions to the edge without pushing it over.
Here’s an example. If you owned a construction tool rental business (think backhoes) and your customers were concerned about how long it takes to pick up the equipment, you could offer fly-by pick-up. This would mean getting customers pre-approved for credit, getting the equipment ready to go and having someone who supports the fly-by process. Yes, it would take work, but it would also make this business remarkable in comparison to other tool rental companies.
Would customers know to ask for this? Probably not. But, by understanding your prospects, you could easily offer a solution like this.
Testing New Ideas
Inbound gives you the opportunity to test new ideas, especially when you’re in the optimization phase of an inbound marketing engagement. If you have an idea that might move the market, create a page on your website, promote the page in targeted email marketing campaigns, add an offer on the page to gauge interest and run the campaign for two weeks. If you get attention, you’re onto something. If you don’t get attention, scrap the idea and move on. You learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes.
With limited exposure and limited investment, you get solid market research direct from your customers. You didn’t ask them for their opinion; you presented them with a solution and let them vote. The more you do this, the more opportunity you have to create a story in your industry that gets your prospect’s attention.
Another way to include your customers without asking them what you should do is to give them an idea and then solicit their opinion. You want to make sure that what you are planning is something they’d be willing to pay for. One option to do that is to run surveys on your website.
Keep the surveys short and keep your customers focused on the idea you want feedback on. You can include surveys like this on the pages we discussed in the section above. You can trial new ideas, get feedback on them and see how far your customers are willing to go with them.
Creating A Culture Of New Ideas
Now that you have a mechanism to test new ideas and a process to create them, you have to cultivate a culture in which your people are comfortable sharing new ideas. Encourage ideation and a methodology to process these new ideas. You actually want to cycle through as many ideas as your team can come up with – no limits.
Not every idea will be good, but your team is now constantly thinking about how to make your business remarkable. They’re also working to improve the experience your customers are having with your business. This gives you a foundation of continuous improvement, makes your business remarkable and ultimately provides you with a stream of developments that will pay off.
Start Today Tip – Grab a handful of team members. The best way to focus their energy is to have them work through the challenges your prospects and customers deal with daily. List those out and then let your team brainstorm and edgecraft solutions to those ideas specifically. Take off the limits: There are no bad ideas, and even the wildest idea is accepted. Some of the craziest ideas generate the best business efforts. Sort the great ideas from the crazy ones and prioritize them based on which ones offer the biggest benefit and take the least amount of work. Before you know it, you’re business will be the talk of your industry.
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