*** Chances are, your business is not Starbucks. But if you were to think of the Starbucks marketing strategy, what would you think it actually sells?
The answer that is just asking to come out is “coffee”, isn’t it? But sit back for a minute and think about this: If you are one of the people who loves coming to Starbucks to slowly sip your cup of coffee in the morning, what are you actually coming there for? Is it the cup of coffee itself, or is it the atmosphere and a circle of familiar faces, or is it the cheer that you are greeted with as you approach the cash register, or is it the “you” moment when you simply enjoy your own solitary company?
We would argue that what Starbucks really sells is not the coffee. No one would likely spend $5 on a cup of coffee just for the sake of drinking it! So, it can easily be argued that what Starbucks is selling is… experiences! Its coffee may in fact be a quality product, but what Starbucks realizes is that everyone’s needs are different, and therefore each marketing campaign needs to be specifically designed for each need. Starbucks’ campaigns (be that social media campaigns or standard forms of advertising) work well, and that is because Starbucks does a great job putting itself into its buyers’ shoes and using what they observe with thire buyers’ eyes to design a very effective marketing strategy.
So how does one go about understanding his buyers’ actual needs and wants? Here is where the idea of buyer personas come into play. Buyer personas are those imaginary customers whom your business will target in its marketing efforts. They are not real people but profiles that describe groups of real people, each with their own specifications regarding demographics, life situations, and needs that your business will solve.
Understanding your buyer personas is the number one step in creating your digital marketing strategy and, in fact, the whole marketing strategy in general. It is only through understanding your buyers’ real needs that you can build your marketing campaigns effectively and see them work.
Assess this scenario to understand this concept better:
You are someone looking for a car. You don’t know what car make and model you want to buy – all you know is that you need a car. As someone who does not know a lot about buying cars, you will likely want to become educated on the subject before you make a buying decision, so you type a car make that comes first to your mind into a search engine and click on a local dealership link. As you come to their website, you see a landing page with all possible models of that make, an option to customize your car and a purchase button. You look around to see if you can find any links where you can learn more about cars and the purchase process itself. Disappointed, you click away – you are not ready to buy a car just yet!
Then you click on another dealership’s link in the search engine and as soon as you land on their website, you see a targeted menu option – “Information for New Buyers”. There is another link in the side-bar “Learn About our Buying Process”. You realize that this is what you need, and click on the link where you learn everything that you need about the buying process and also have an opportunity to use their easy tool to send any questions that remained unanswered.
This demonstrates two situations:
- The first dealership focused on its product and sales, and you left because you did not find what you were looking for – information that would educate you and enable you to make a good buying decision.
- The second dealership focused on your needs and was successful in getting you to follow through to the page where they offered you the information that interested you a conversion opportunity.
Putting your Business Into Your Buyers’ Shoes
When your business has a full understanding of its buyers’ needs, a whole new marketing strategy can be designed around that knowledge. Businesses need to put themselves into their buyers’ shoes and look at the world with their buyers’ eyes when creating content and digital marketing strategies. Only then will they be able to write a helpful blog article, make their websites useful and effective, and reach out to their buyers exactly where the buyers interact using their own language to communicate with them! And only these types of articles, websites and communication strategies will be valued by their target buyers!
Some of the things to consider when designing your digital marketing approach are:
- Design your website with the goal to address the needs of its visitors. This means placing targeted options onto your navigation bar, side bar, featured areas, providing landing pages specifically designed for those buyers whom they target and using the language of your buyers so that content on these pages resonates with them.
- Center your blog content around your buyers. Concentrate on providing helpful advice, demonstrating how buyers’ needs can be solved, analyzing buyers’ issues and connecting them to the ways that they can be improved…
- Design calls to action appropriate for each buyer segment based on the needs of your buyer personas. Where a white paper download may be appropriate for some, an e-book will be more appropriate for others.
- Use those platforms that your target buyers are using to get their information. If a large segment of your target buyer personas use a specific forum, subscribe to it and start participating in conversations by providing advice, answering questions, challenging assumptions.
These and other things you can do are vital to your business success. In today’s world, people do not come to your website to look at advertisements; they come in search of information and engaging content. Having a buyer-centric content strategy will ensure that your business is valued as expert in its field and will in turn bring more customers to you.