Business owners, how is your communication?

When I was a young girl, I often felt misunderstood.

Didn’t matter if it was a teacher, friend, or my parents. I hated feeling as though what I was trying to communicate didn’t come across the way I intended.

Communication is so important to me that I chose it as my college degree. During four years at both the University of Dayton and the University of Cincinnati, I learned about interpersonal communication, corporate communication, voice and articulation, rhetorical theory, and completed a variety of public speaking classes.

So when I talk about the importance of communication, it’s because I’ve spent a long, long time studying it – both in college and in the “real world.” I’m a life-long student and continued to educate myself whenever possible when it comes to communication.

Fast-forward to today and my ongoing quest for clients who understand what I do.

I communicate – and sell – their ideas to the world.

Returning To the Basics

Even Tiger Woods had to return to “the basics” to get his golf swing back.

So in the same spirit, I’d like to address the “basics” of communication.

It is simply a transaction of information.

It also – and this is very, very important – a two-way street.

Otherwise, it’s not communication. It’s a speech.

No one enjoys meeting someone at a social event and having the other person drone on and on about themselves with no pause during their relentless onslaught of verbiage.

I know someone like this. And this person was deliberately not invited to an immediate family member’s gathering because the wife didn’t want the conversations to be dominated by the Non-Stop Chatty Machine.

So if we all know how boring (and at times painful) it can be when you’re cornered by the Non-Stop Chatty Machine – then why, oh, why do businesses act like a Non-Stop Chatty Machine?

You know what I’m referring to.

The business whose website can do nothing more than brag about their accomplishments. Or it’s filled with useless information. Or the information is so dense and bland that it immediately induces sleep.

Here is what I tell my clients:

Your perfect buyer doesn’t care about you. Not one whit.

What they do care about is their own problems, dreams, and desires.

So instead of having your marketing become the equivalent of The Non-Stop Chatty Machine, I suggest you put in some work on the other end of communication – learning to listen.

How to Listen to Your Market

When you’re trying to get to know someone, what do you do?

If you said, “Ask questions,” you win.

You can’t get to really know someone until you have a meaningful conversation with them. Asking questions – and then listening closely to the person’s responses – is the key to not only understanding them but gaining their trust.

Your perfect buyer has a lot on her mind.

Her life is filled with a bazillion concerns, tasks, and projects. She’s usually moving at warp speed, too, to get everything done.

And when she does find a few minutes to rest, what does she often do?

Vent on social media. Or create a video about her very bad day. Or leave a review online about a product or service that fell short of her expectations.

Here’s the deal: You have several ways to discover what your market wants. You can ask them directly or you can eavesdrop online. I do both.

When you eavesdrop online, you can find a variety of places where people unload their frustrations. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, blogs, Amazon reviews, Google reviews, Facebook groups, online community boards, Reddit, Quora… the list goes on.

The point is that you need to devote time to these “listening” excursions in order to know your buyer.

And it goes (almost) without saying that communication starts by focusing on your buyer first. Not on what you want to sell to them. Instead, hone in on what your perfect buyer is experiencing already (both positive and negative).

By listening to your market… you’re doing several HUGE things that will ensure your success.

#1:  By getting to know your customer well, you’ll be able to create the products and services they really want (not just what you want to sell).

#2: By getting to know your customer well, you’ll be progressing by leaps and bounds beyond your competition. Because so few businesses spend time doing this. Trust me.

#3: By getting to know your customer well, you will be able to “speak their language” in your marketing. This is critical. When you use the language they use, it serves as a short-cut toward gaining trust. Your prospective buyer will give you their precious attention faster when he or she realizes you “get them.”

Doesn’t that make knowing your target market worth it?

Over the years, I’ve always asked my clients this question when we talk about a project: what information do you have about your customers?

Is there a buyer persona or avatar? Any surveys? How well does the business know their customers or clients?

Usually, the client does not have this kind of information. And what’s worse, they don’t think it’s really all that important.

Do Not Despise Small Beginnings

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you think about marketing. There are so many marketing tools out there… a plethora of methods and systems… not to mention the software.

But it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

A simple conversation with your current customers can yield great results.

You can also send a survey or questionnaire to your current customers and offer a discount or gift card if they complete it.

The important thing is to simply do something. Don’t wait. Don’t think that “if only I had XYZ software…” or “if only I had an assistant/magic wand/robot, I could do it.”

Start small. Start by calling your three best customers and ask them a few questions.

If you call “out of the blue” and let them know you’d like to find out how your solution is helping them – AND what isn’t working – I will guarantee you that you’ll blow their minds.

Seriously.

Blow. Their. Minds.

Why?

Because so few businesses actually communicate with their clients and customers. Even fewer call them out of the blue to see how life is going for them regarding your area of expertise.

Just let them know that you’re on an “Information Expedition.” You’re not going to pitch them or try to upsell them. You simply want to ask a few questions and find out what’s helping them the most. Even a little “what’s on your Wish List” conversation.

This doesn’t have to take a lot of time to do, either. Once you get permission to continue the conversation, you can glean quite a bit within 10 – 15 minutes.

Again, just choose 3 – 5 of your best customers and start calling. This will give you a quick-start on discovering what your buyers really want.

The Power of Follow-Up

Do your customers and clients have questions? Concerns? Complaints?

Listening is the other part of communication that often is overlooked. But do you know what else is overlooked?

Taking action.

Years ago, when we were considering golf courses as a niche for our marketing services, I decided to make some phone calls for my own “Information Expedition.”

I spoke to a golf course owner in our city. I asked if he ever conducted customer surveys.

“Sure. We’ve done surveys. But the problem is that the members then expect us to do something about them,” he said drily.

He wasn’t joking.

He actually thought surveys were a waste of time and an annoyance. He didn’t want to change anything he was doing, even if he discovered his golf club members would have preferred another choice.

I was dumbfounded. As a marketer, this is crucial to success. If you’re not connected to your customers on a regular basis, then how do you know which direction to pursue growing your business?

One of my favorite clients is a local CPA owner who contacted me to create a lovely newsletter that shared the results of a recent survey they gave to their clients.

I had so much fun creating that newsletter. I added pie charts to demonstrate how happy the clients were with their accounting services. Key quotes were strategically placed on the pages. A summary was given regarding the positive responses they received.

And for a marketer, nothing is more powerful than a quote from a happy customer.

But you don’t get those quotes by just wishing for them. You get them by asking questions, listening to the responses, and then following up.

To build goodwill with your clients and customers, show them that you take their concerns seriously.

Show them you care by actually doing something about what is most meaningful to them.

If you do this on a regular basis, you earn not just the respect of your customers, but you earn their business. Your buyer always has options. They can easily go to your competition to get what they need. But if you show them you care – genuinely care – you’ll increase the odds of having lifelong customers.

For me, communication is vital for my own client relationships. I like to follow up to see how they’re doing and the results of any project we worked on together. I also respond quickly to any questions they may have.

And last, but certainly not least, I want them to know I don’t take them for granted.

When you communicate with your clients, customers, and prospective buyers that you’re the type of business who places their interests as a priority (and do it consistently) be ready.

You’ll have plenty of business to keep your doors open.


Hey, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this article. We appreciate your interest! Don’t forget to leave a comment and of course, share if you think this can help someone else.

Keep on swinging for the fences!

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