Shinise is a word in Japanese that refers to a long lasting company… a company that’s weathered countless storms and has been around for ages.
In fact, there’s a statistic floating around that says 90% of all companies around the world that are over 100 years old are Japanese (hat tip to Paul Jarvis and his book Company of One for that stat). How do these companies last so long? They do so by focusing on better customer service rather than growing and increasing the number of customers they serve. In other words… quality over quantity. This is the ONE thing all these businesses have in common.
Having a ONE thing to focus on is an amazing advantage. It allows you to forget about stuff that bogs you down, and instead zero in on what’s most important.
Of course, figuring out this one thing can be challenging
And actually sticking to that one thing (and not getting sidetracked) is even harder. But for marketing, I believe this ONE thing is understanding your audience to the best of your ability. This is the #1 way to create successful marketing that helps you build lasting relationships with your customers.
And the first step is understanding these customers in the first place
You can’t understand your people enough. Writing personalized forms of communication means first knowing your audience to the best of your ability. You need to become familiar with their desires, motivations, challenges, and worldviews if you want any chance of speaking to them in their language.
You can start by actually engaging with your audience
Don’t let communication be a one-way street. Many businesses don’t bother to engage their audience. At all. They don’t respond to questions, or talk to their prospects and customers… except when they’re trying to drum up business. You need to do better.
I’ve received Christmas greetings and New Years wishes from companies whose email lists I’ve opted into. This is all well and good, but these emails are literally the only contact I get from these people all year long. Sometimes I even forget that I’m on their list. I’d actually take these good wishes seriously if they bothered to engage me outside of end-of-year marketing efforts.
So that’s the first thing: you need to engage
Technology and tools have made this easier than ever before. You can use social media apps like Facebook messenger, Twitter, and Instagram to ask your audience direct questions. Drift can help you talk to customers as they browse your website. And surveys can give you much-needed feedback on a larger scale.
But the best thing you can do is to hop on the phone and have a conversation. Schedule regular phone calls with prospects and customers so you can fully understand what they love or dislike about your product.
The next thing you can do is create a more detailed buyer persona
Or as Sean D’Souza calls it: a target profile. I like how Sean (in his book, The Brain Audit) distinguishes between target audience and target profile. The big difference is that the target profile outlines a single buyer… not a group of buyers. The reason you want to do this is because your understanding and targeting will be much more accurate when you zero in on a single individual.
Want an example?
Well, to use Sean’s example in The Brain Audit, let’s say you’ve got three women sitting in a cafe. They’re all in their 30’s, live in the same neighbourhood, went to the same school, and they all have 2.2 kids. And they all wear jeans. On paper, they all seem alike, right?
This is called a target audience. Now, if you’re selling jeans to women, you might think it’s easy peasy once you know the demographics of the audience. But there’s a catch…
Each of these women may be buying your jeans to solve a different problem. One might be buying for comfort, another might be buying to look good, and another might be buying simply because she likes the colour.
A target profile hones in on a single person and a single problem
Instead of focusing on an audience, you focus instead on a single person who is dealing with a specific problem. Instead of “women who buy jeans”, your target profile might be “Karen, who buys jeans to look good”.
Usually, this is where a common objection crops up…
You might be thinking that marketing to one person is a terrible idea… business suicide even. But let’s say you decide to focus on just one person: Karen, who buys jeans to look good.
How many Karens are out there? The answer is that there are tons and tons of women out there just like Karen who have the same problem. And they all buy jeans for the same reason. By focusing your copy and marketing on just a single person (and therefore a single problem), you actually speak clearly to many people who are looking to solve the exact same issue. For more info on this, I recommend The Brain Audit (www.psychotactics.com).
In summary, your ONE thing needs to be understanding your audience
And to understand them to the best of your ability. This is an ongoing process that doesn’t really end. Engaging with your audience, and honing in on a target profile can help you connect with (and get to know) your prospects and customers. Do this, and you’ll go a long way to turning your business into one that can weather any storm. Just like all those Japanese companies that are over 100 years old.