Written by: Kendra Cumberland
If you are a small business owner with a presence on FaceBook and Instagram, you likely view hundreds of ads each week in your feed with tag lines such as “Creating Ads that Convert” or “Guaranteed 6-figure Sales Funnel.” These ads are trying to convince you to purchase their product or service with the expectation that you will be able to use their method to create conversions of your own for your business.
While some of these products and methods may be valuable (every small business is different, so no one-size-fits-all approach will garner the same results for all businesses), some are just fluff. Determining which are quality and which are not, is the biggest challenge, especially when we all truly want to believe that the “too good to be true,” super-easy, no-work method will net us six figures tomorrow…
The truth is, marketing and sales take work. The simple reason for this is that your ultimate goal should be to build lasting relationships with your customers. There is a reason that many MLM companies make so much money – they are right up front about sales through relationships, and in that regard they are right on the money.
So what does that mean for you and your business?
No matter what your business, you can benefit from a customer study. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach because in order to have success with this exercise you have to personalize and individualize the process to match your business. Your answers (and even some of the questions you will generate) are quite different than those an Amazon or Apple executive would generate if they completed the same exercise. And the ad copy you will write at the end of this exercise will look very different as well.
Customer Study Exercise
Get a notebook or computer so you can take copious notes. This is a brainstorming session, so you want to record all of your thoughts and ideas to look back over later. I recommend paper and pen (even though I love technology and use it extensively), because you can jot ideas and relationships in ways you won’t be able to if you are typing. I also like to use lots of different colored pens because color helps the brain recall things better and associate one idea with another.
Step One: Begin by describing your ideal customer. What are the statistical demographics for your ideal customer? Are you selling health and beauty aids to teenagers and college students? Are you marketing tools to contractors? BE SPECIFIC! BE CLEAR! Is your ideal customer in a specific geographic location? Based on your product/services do they need to have a certain tier of income? Take your time with this step and be very clear about your description so that you can refer back to it at later steps in the process.
Step Two: Describe your product/service. Again, BE SPECIFIC and CLEAR! Don’t use technical terms unless that is a requirement for being specific. Make sure that anyone could read this description and know exactly what you do/sell. Calling yourself a technical consultant is not a specific and clear description of what you do.
Step Three: (This is the hardest part): Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer, and read through your description of your product/service. On a separate sheet of paper, record your questions, comments, thoughts, ideas, about this product/service. For example: How much is shipping? What colors does it come in? Will the cost fit my budget? What makes this product/service better than that other company I saw offering the same thing? Can I really trust this company? Your questions should be more specific than my examples, because you know your ideal customer and your business. Your goal is to identify the potential objections your ideal customer would experience when first encountering your product/service.
Step Four: Switch back to your own thoughts and imagine a scenario where you are discussing your product or service with a potential customer. As they bring up each objection or question you identified in Step Three, determine how you will respond. What additional details can you give them to help them see why your product or service is better than those offered by a competitor. How can you build a trusting relationship between you and the customer that will bring them to the point of purchasing, becoming a repeat customer, and referring their friends for your products or services? It often helps to have a full dialogue back and forth for this step, so if you have a friend/partner/significant other who is familiar with your business and can play that role you may get even better insights. Take notes during this process as well and be sure to address ever reservation or concern, no matter how small it may seem. Remember, you are not looking to push a single purchase that will translate to buyers remorse, you are looking to build a lifelong customer.
Step Five: Go back through your notes from all four steps.
- Begin by refining your ideal customer profile. I once completed this activity with a client and by the end of the process she had realized that she had been targeting the wrong audience for years. Adjusting her ideal customer profile also helped her identify new products to launch and which designs were most appropriate at various times of the year.
- Next, look at the description you wrote about your products/services and determine how that should be refined. Did you identify key words that would make the description clearer? Did you identify a key word you were using that may have a negative connotation to your ideal customer? This is especially key if you are marketing across culture groups, where some words are considered negative or have a different meaning (even in English), within different cultural groups.
- Now, go through the dialogue you played out between you and your ideal customer. Identify the primary objections your customer identified and how you would respond. What are the main selling points for your product/service? How can you address possible objections upfront within your advertising? What photos of your products/services will help you to address these objections and will best represent your brand to your ideal customer?
- Finally, put together 4-5 ad copy templates. Again, think of what would appeal to your ideal customer regarding the words you choose and the photos you select. If you had a partner/friend/significant other help you with the brainstorming process, ask them to look over the ad copy and identity the 2-3 that would make them most likely to purchase/sign up. Don’t discard the other examples, hold onto those for potential editing down the road.
Writing ads that relate to and resonate with your ideal customer requires a great deal of preparation in regards to identifying your ideal customer and honestly reflecting on why your product/service meets their needs. Once you have 2-3 (or more) solid templates for ads, you can begin the testing phase and make adjustments as needed. Be sure to hold onto your ideal customer profile, as you’ll need that as well!
About the author:
I started VisuaLoom to help small businesses connect with their ideal customers and clients through social media advertising and to help them build sustainable growth. Coming from a family of small business owners, I recognize the importance of small businesses in local communities and I love to help support those small businesses. With more than 14 years experience in the field of education I have a passion for training and educating others, and a lifelong love of learning.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-517-7083.