‘Outside In’ Marketing

I met with a business owner last week who has tried unsuccessfully for some years to break through a turnover figure which he has been desperate to achieve for many years. He has got very close in the last few years, without making that final break through which would bring him the level of success he was looking for.

Now there could be a number of reasons for this happening, but the answer he gave was very interesting, he stated that he felt the main reason why they have not broken through that magic barrier was mainly because clients and prospects just did not understand what his business truly did. If I could just have a penny for every time I have heard business owners tell me this, there would be no need for me to write this article. If clients and prospects do not understand what a business truly does, how hard is it for that business to deliver exceptional value?

So why is it that some businesses are so misunderstood that clients and prospects struggle to understand what value their product or service really brings to them? Just think to yourself how difficult it must be to create leads or sell the services if even the business owner cannot clearly communicate what it is that the business offers!

After years of careful research, we have come to the conclusion that the major reason for this happening is twofold;

  1. Most of the marketing is done ‘Inside Out’.
  2. Businesses do not truly understand the market place they are in and how their business delivers value to this market place.

1. So what do we mean with ‘Inside Out’ marketing?

After years of research we have realised that the vast majority of business owners plan and execute their marketing plans on the views and opinions of the people inside the business looking out towards the market. So what is wrong with that? These people have often been providing these products and services for many years and understand how they work best for customers.

But this is actually the biggest problem,

their knowledge and understanding of the product is so much higher than any customers will ever be and this often causes a communication breakdown.

The most important factor to consider is, what are the most important benefits that your product or service brings to customers, from their viewpoint, not yours. In our research we have found many times, that customers purchase a product or service for reasons the supplier has never considered. The only way to find out what these reasons are is by conducting proper market research with the type of customers who will bring you increased profitable sales.

And this is what we mean by ‘Inside Out’ marketing, the majority of businesses approach the market with their level of understanding and opinions of how the product fits best, only to then find that the results they are getting are considerably lower than their expectations.

So where do we start with correcting this process and creating an ‘Outside In’ marketing strategy?

2. How do we start to understand our own business?

The place to start to understand how your business fits into the market place is with something the majority of business owners neglect to do, proper market research.

So what do I mean when I say proper market research?  Many businesses do market surveys by sending out a short questionnaire which allows people to rate the various aspects of their business, like service, product availability etc. But how many of these questionnaires delve into the key areas of what makes a person decide to choose your product or service over another? Effective market research is all about getting the understanding around the emotional reasons why somebody makes a decision to choose one company over another and is probably neglected by so many as it is not that easy to do without the necessary training and understanding.

Part of this research must also include identifying your ideal client. This is far more than just geography or spending power, it must cover their wants, needs and aspirations so that we attract a customer that buys from us over a long term.

Only once we know who we want to attract and what it is they are truly looking for, can we even start thinking about marketing to them. At this point we need to understand what our point of difference is in the market, what we offer that is different to our competitors, and what do we do that is going to attract those ideal clients that will ensure our profitable growth and help us out perform the rest of the market place we are in.

This is no longer about creating or finding a niche as it was once thought of, creating a niche is often a time consuming and expensive activity which often gets copied very soon after it is launched. Creating this difference is an interesting process as in many cases the business is already delivering something that makes it different to its competitors, it’s just not aware of it and therefore does not communicate it.

The most important thing to remember when marketing is that your target audience measure your message and your business on the perception they create in their mind when they see any of your marketing material. The better your understanding is of what they are looking for and what it means to them, the more positive the perception you will create with them.

Creating the right perception with your ideal prospects is one of the key factors that are going to take your business to the next level of success and help you jump ahead of your competitors, but above all, it will relieve some of the price pressure you may be under, increasing your bottom line profits.