A number of businesses I regularly talk to have been working on big new projects over the last six months. Perhaps you have been too. Things have changed for some, not so much for others. A number of folks have been thinking hard about their customers and what’s impacted them in the last six months, then got to work building something to help… something that’s good for the seller as well as the buyer. The next step is how to present it to your market. Things aren’t what they were this time last year. How does that impact the introduction of your new project? To me, the impact is significant. Do you dare waste that effort with an introduction that no one understands?
Take a pulse
Unless absolutely nothing has changed for your customers (and maybe despite the fact that nothing has changed – if that’s the case), assuming you can go at your existing customer base with the same type of message you might have approached them with last November might not be ideal. Obvious or not, we’re in a situation where, for some customers it would be okay to use messaging similar to what we would have used last November. Yet last year’s message might catch others completely out of sorts.
Most of us can’t afford to introduce something brand new with a message that falls completely flat. That first impression is important. We don’t get a second chance for a first introduction – so it has to be the right one. If our introduction doesn’t resonate with them simply because of their current situation – that’s on us.
Maybe you have customers who are one person businesses. And perhaps others who are five employee shops. Maybe some have 15, 20 or 30 employees. Each of those customers (prospects), regardless of what they do, may have navigated the last six months differently. Each of them is probably in a different place today. Because of that, the message you use to introduce the thing you’ve been working so hard on must take each of their situations into consideration.
Given whatever has changed in your business, and whatever has changed in your customers’ (prospects’) businesses, your intro should be carefully considered. Don’t be surprised if you need to address each group with a message specifically for them. While you might typically do that anyway – today may be a unique situation.
Don’t be surprised to find that you need a specific message for the one person shops. Their last six months could have been amazing, horrific, or somewhere in between. They may deliver what they do in a different way. They may be in a different business altogether – in the same market. They may be in a different market. You need to know. What that one person shop had to do could be completely different compared to the five, 10, or 20 employee company.
If you address the 30 person company with the same message that you send to the one person shops your message may fall on deaf ears. It may not make sense in November 2020 for that size customer in your market, even if it’s perfect for a different sized customer.
These are things you need to figure out with one-to-one conversations with customers of each size. You know the right customer sizes. Reach out and find out how things are going. Ask what’s changed, what hasn’t changed, if needs have changed, and which ones haven’t.
Use what you learned
Use what you learn in those conversations to determine how you address each of those groups of customers. One of the last things you want to do is approach them with something new that they sorely need and do so in a way that isn’t easily understandable, doesn’t resonate with what they think their current needs are, doesn’t make any sense, or sounds like you haven’t been paying attention.
On the other hand, if your approach shows that you’re paying attention, that your new offering fills a need they may not have had six months ago, or simply fills a new need, your efforts might find a receptive audience.
Whatever the case, it’s critical that your message makes it clear that you’ve been watching, listening, and using those discoveries to start the conversation in a way that shows you’re ready, willing, and able to help.
Don’t waste that first impression.
Mark Riffey is an investor and advisor to small business owners. Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site, contact him on LinkedIn or Twitter, or email him at email@example.com.
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