I’ve been defining the customer’s Mindset as the desires, concerns, and questions that they have when they set out on their buying journey. These desires, concerns, and questions are top of mind for them, and if you don’t address these burning issues, immediately, they will click away. That’s one thing all digital marketing efforts have in common: The customer reaction is immediate. You have nanoseconds to either attract them or lose them.
This puts marketing to the ultimate test. There is no time for luxuriating in breast-beating braggadocio.
Nothing should come between their quest for the very specific information they are looking for, and you providing that information. It’s not about you and your products and services. It’s about your customer’s desires, concerns, and questions.
They want to know: How, exactly, will you meet my desires? How, exactly, will you allay my concerns? Do you know specifically what my questions are, and are you answering them, quickly and to my satisfaction?
This is what they want. We all know this, when we are buying things ourselves. It’s perfectly obvious to us, as buyers.
But as sellers, we almost always fall short. For example, this is not what our prospects see when they first come to our sites.
This reality came home to me, hard, going through a bunch of competitive sites with a client. Sites for companies selling the same thing our client is selling (a B2B service). They were ALL THE SAME. They all made the same claims; they all showed the same type of information; they all spoke marketing speak for “We are great. Here are all the reasons. Here’s the proof.”
Why does this happen? Because it’s easier to click around to competitive sites and “do what they’re doing” than it is to interview real customers and find out what they actually want your site to say. They want you to address their very specific desires, concerns, and questions, in all your sites and social and other campaigns.
People today are in a hurry; a busy working person can visit a hundred or more pages in a given workday. If they see themselves when one of your messages or your site appears in front of them, they will pursue it. If they don’t, they will be gone. Click.
They don’t want to have to wade through a bunch of corporate blah-blah to find what they’re looking for.
When I ask B2B buyers where they go first when looking at the sites of service-oriented businesses, they always say, “I go to the About section and look at the leadership team.” This is borne out by heat-map data, in our experience. The About section is a hot, well-visited item.
Why do they go there? They want to see who is running the company. What those individuals care about. They want to see the kind of vibe they get from the pictures and copy on that page. Are these people professional? Do they care about the same things I care about? Have they paid attention to the things that I know would make the company good at serving customers? In other words, can I trust you to take good care of me?
Given this fact, if you are a B2B company, you’ll want to address that concern right up front. Why make the person search for the information in the About section? Why not have a short video of the company’s founder, right on the home page? Why not say what you care about, on the home page? Why not show your smiling people, what they do for customers, and what they care about?
This turns the usual website structure on its head, and well it should. When we put the customer’s Mindset front and center, we change the priority and emphasis of our messages.
As a successful business owner or manager, treating people right is just part of who you are. So the idea of showcasing the fact that “happy people work here” seems rather obvious or superfluous. But it is a factor in the customer’s mind. Happy people treat customers kindly.
My experience as a frequent flyer bore this out. For some years, I did a lot of rent-a-VP gigs, where I would do marketing or sales turnarounds for CEOs. It often involved a lot of flying (for one gig, I was commuting from Silicon Valley to New Jersey every week for 8 months).
I was a loyal United customer, racking up hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles. But corporate managers at United weren’t treating their flight staff well. Service went from bad to abominable. I switched to Southwest, whose employees are almost all 100 percent cheerful and helpful.
My biggest concern when looking for an alternative to United was how well passengers were treated. My desire and concerns about a pleasant flight far outweighed my concerns about the benefits of the frequent flyer miles. I have never looked back, walking away from all those United miles without a second thought.
Now remember, good leadership and a pleasant service experience is what B2B customers look for from service companies. What they look for from B2C and B2B product companies would be different.
And that is the whole point. You can’t generalize. You can’t do what worked for one company and try to apply it to your situation. The very best thing you can do for your company is to interview your customers. Their desires, concerns, and questions when setting out to buy your product or service are very specific.
Desires and concerns: joined at the hip
It should be noted that desires and concerns are often joined at the hip. For every concern there is a matching desire.
Let’s say I want to hire a tree-trimming company. I want someone I can depend on who also does a good job for a reasonable price. Those are my desires.
My concerns are that the guy won’t keep his promises (I won’t be able to depend on him), that the work he does damages other parts of my garden or the trees he’s trimming (he doesn’t do a good job), or that he disappoints me regarding cost. The worst situation regarding cost is to be quoted one thing and then find out after the work is done that there were unexpected and uncommunicated additional costs.
If you are selling food, your buyers want to know what went into the product and how it was produced. They want to be able to trust that the conditions were sanitary (this is more important than ever!). They want to know that the workers and animals (if it is an animal-based product), are well-treated.
On the whole, we are not a society of elitist uber-rich people who were comfortable with slaves and servants. We don’t like the thought that people making a product or providing a service were ill-treated. But these concepts are seldom, if ever, brought up in the marketing of food.
If you are selling software, there will be very specific concerns that your customers have, but one thing you can add to the list automatically is this: One of their biggest concerns is that they will be sold on the demo and disappointed by the reality. How many times, as users of software, have we all had this experience?
When we look at it this way, the overriding desire and concern is: “I want to be able to trust you.”
How to address their concerns and desires
The first, most useful questions we need to ask ourselves when we start to write copy or design a site or campaign aimed at the customer’s Mindset are:
- What’s their biggest desire?
- What’s their biggest concern?
- What questions do they have?
You need to know exactly what their desires and concerns are in order to make an offer that will catch their attention and appeal to them immediately and deeply.
If you guess, you will guess wrong. Ask them, after they have bought from you, what they were looking for and what their desires and concerns were, as I recommend in our Mindset Marketing Guide and my book.
Once you understand what they’re looking for, you’ll want to figure out how to give it to them, as fast as possible, in all your marketing. You will be putting their Mindset ahead of your Mindset, getting yourself out of the way.
By the way, don’t worry a bit about “personas” (who your buyers are) and “channels” (where your buyers are) until you get this Mindset part right. Your digital marketing strategy has to start with their Mindset, or nothing you do will work.