Why do so many marketing efforts miss the mark? Because they focus on all the wrong things, such as “personas,” “positioning,” and “providing value.” They do not address what is actually driving the purchase: the very specific mindset of the customer. When you’re developing your marketing strategy, if you don’t start with this, you’ll end up making bad decisions and creating campaigns that don’t work.
I’ve been in marketing and sales a long time. I’ve seen all sorts of marketing fads come and go, as business owners and CEOS excitedly try out fresh marketing ideas as they are introduced. Sometimes the fad is a concept, such as permission or relationship marketing; sometimes the fad is a tool, such as a persona. Sometimes the fad is a channel that gives marketers new access to an audience. The problem with every single one is that it is looking at marketing from the marketer’s perspective.
“How can we reach this type of customer? Will this new channel work?” “How can we characterize this type of customer?” “How can we build a relationship with this customer?” These are all questions asked by marketers to meet the needs of the marketer, not the customer.
When we take off our marketing hat and are customers ourselves, our mindset is completely different. We know that when a need arises, we decide it’s time to spend some money, and we start to search. We go to Google or Amazon or another source. We contact others with similar needs, to get their advice (either by reaching out or by reading reviews).
Part of our mindset, no matter what we’re buying, is that we trust other customers more than we trust the companies trying to sell us something. That is true of all customers. And, we also expect the selling company to keep its promises, and when that doesn’t happen—when the product or service doesn’t keep those promises—we have plenty of ways to warn other customers to steer clear.
Customers are not people waiting around for salesmen to call; in fact, they do whatever they can to avoid them. They’re not trying to develop a relationship when they go out to buy; that’s what marketers want, not customers. They don’t like being “targeted” or “segmented” or “convinced.”
They want to solve a problem; they want to make a good decision; and they want to be happy about that decision after they make it.
Those are the general mindsets of all customers. But—and here is the most important thing—it is the very specific mindset relating to that very specific problem that triggers the buying process, and can result in a purchase. Understanding that specific mindset and addressing it exactly is what creates successful marketing campaigns.
Here’s a diagram that lays it out:
Here’s an example of how Mindset-Driven Marketing works. We will start with a simple non-technical example. You would assume that a customer looking for a landscaper thinks:
“I need a contractor to do a remodel.”
In reality, though, the need is driven by the customer’s specific Mindset:
“I need a contractor who will listen to what I really want, help me achieve it, including dealing with getting permission from the town, getting plans drawn up, hiring the most courteous and professional vendors to work on the job, get the job done on time, and on budget.”
In other words,
“I need a contractor whom I can trust to do the job right, from start to finish.” That is what this customer is actually buying. This is her Mindset.
So if you are a contractor, and you say, “Licensed, experienced,” you are barely addressing her specific Mindset.
If you say, “Specializing in remodels,” you are getting closer, but you are not providing any proof of performance.
If you say, “You can trust us with your remodel,” and then provide plenty of proof, including language about plans and working with the town, examples of your previous jobs, reviews by satisfied customers that include phrases such as “finished on time and under budget, a true delight to work with,” educational material that shows how much you know, problems that you have solved for others, videos that provide tips about ways to handle certain challenges . . . now you are feeding right into her Mindset. She will come to your site and stay there a while, getting more and more comfortable with you. She will decide to give you a call.
That’s Mindset-Driven Marketing.
This may seem like a lot of work. But it has to be. Today’s customers do almost all of their buying online before they ever reach out to you. If you’re not addressing all of their mindset-driven concerns in your online presence, they will just click away and keep searching. You will never even know you lost the sale.
We know this approach works because we are using it and it is working. One of our clients is selling travel-related services in the midst of a worldwide, pandemic-driven shutdown (in other words. hers is one of the industries that has been very hard-hit). But because we are addressing her clients’ very specific Mindset, the leads continue to roll in.
In this age of digital marketing, where screen-space competition is fierce, if you don’t understand and speak to the customer’s very specific Mindset, you can throw your whole budget away on campaigns that will never realize their full potential. Their Mindset is the most important thing that you need to uncover and address. All of your marketing efforts will work better once you do. And thinking this way will keep you grounded in the reality of what really produces sales.
We’ll cover this more in future articles.