Sometimes the customer has no idea

Peady’s Selling Engagement sponsored by IRD Prospector

So, What’s the Problem with Some Business People?

I won’t identify the market as that will embarrass those involved. 

Recently I conducted an advertising effectiveness workshop for SME’s and as usual asked each of the attendees a couple of key questions: 

        –  Who is your target market or typical customer?

        –  What’s your USP or competitive advantage?

Bear in mind that I explained to the group the definition of both questions so that everyone was quite clear on what I was looking for.

The Response

All of the group, let me repeat this all of the group (11 or 12 of them) only had a vague notion of their customer and none could really outline their competitive advantage or USP.

        –  The lawyer said his target market was “everyone with legal problems”

        –  The director of a childcare centre thought “maybe mums?”

        –  A restaurateur claimed his target customer was “hungry people”

As for their USP

        –  The restaurant guy added to his earlier comment by saying his USP was “nice food and plenty of it”.

        –  A white goods retailer told the group he had been proudly providing “old fashioned value and service since 1983”

        –  The women’s fashion outlet owner said it was important that “no riff raff” tried to enter her store!!!

If a business person doesn’t know WHO they want to communicate to and then WHAT it is about their business that’s unique or different how on earth can they brief an account manager who wants to work with them and put together an effective advertising message?

Your Challenge

By not knowing the answers to these two questions (who and what) many business people buy radio advertising (or are sold radio) and then wonder why is doesn’t work or doesn’t work as well as expected – it happens all the time. As media sales people we are often complicit in this because we accept their business and apply the “hope” strategy” …….”I hope it works for them!”

Win Some, Lose Some 

Wouldn’t it be better if you challenged the potential client if they can’t identify their target market and what’s unique about their business? Wouldn’t the relationship be stronger if you sat down and helped them to craft advertising or take a brief that has more than hope on its side? 

Wouldn’t it be better if sometimes you said “I can’t run this campaign until we have resolved some of these issues because I’ll be wasting your money”? 

It’s a Fact 

As most of you know, one of the critical elements of effective advertising is the inclusion of a powerful benefit for the consumer….the “why”. Why they should consider using a business, service or product. 

I truly believe it’s essential to include this in every piece of advertising. A promise or a benefit which is unique and competitive. 

These days most advertising promises nothing; or includes tired cliché filled phrases. No surprise then that the campaigns aren’t effective or underperform. 

What’s the Solution? 

Be brave. Ask your client the two questions I posed to those business people at my seminar. 

    1.    Who is your primary customer? If they can’t answer, help them clearly describe their typical customer.

    2.    What is the one thing that makes your business special? If they can’t answer once again, help them. It needs to be specific; something no one else does or isn’t prepared to do or can’t do as well.


About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.
He can be contacted at [email protected]



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