The foundation of success in communications is to know your audience – to whom are you speaking. If you don’t know who your audience is, you are going to struggle with even figuring out what you want to say.
Here’s an example: I’m Starbucks. I sell coffee, tea and other beverages, and some other notable items. Now, I have to develop a website, marketing materials, emails, and social media posts.
I could start the process of building all of that out by writing something like: “We have the best tasting coffee in town.” It tells one of our stories. We sell coffee. It’s boastful. We sell “the best tasting coffee.”
But how is that going to resonate with our audience? If my coffee is a dark roast, that is more of an acquired taste than say a deli’s coffee, or the coffee at Dunkin Donuts. Will telling people that I have the best tasting coffee attract them? Is that what they’re looking for?
Is my ideal client the construction worker on the way to the job site, looking for something quick and relatively inexpensive on their commute? Let’s say they come in and see my prices for my bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, taste my dark roast, look around and see who else is online with them. Have I attracted the right client and left them with an experience that they will come back to?
Let’s try this differently then. What if I started thinking about ONE of my ideal clients: Someone who works in a corporate office environment where Starbucks is common with their peers. Say we also believe that they have graduated from cheaper priced takeout coffee and don’t mind paying a little extra for the whole “Starbucks” experience (sandwiches and other items included).
What are they looking for? A darker roast. To be carrying a coffee cup that they place on the meeting room table that fits in with what their colleagues are drinking. An in-store experience where they see other people who look like them.
Now, what I want to write for my marketing material changes. Maybe something like: “Our Vienna roast is brewing just for you, a perfect pairing for our bacon and gouda artisan breakfast sandwich.”
Know Your Audience
Once you know who you are, what you are passionate about being, doing, selling, and you have aligned your travel business partners with you, then you have to think about the clients you want to work with regularly and what they are looking for from a professional like yourself.
But how do you do that? It’s not easy, and most of my clients struggle with this part of their business.
Large companies like Starbucks spend tens of millions of dollars getting to know their ideal client(s). They conduct surveys. They hold focus groups. They hire consultants. And then they test and learn, and recalibrate that persona over time, to ensure that their marketing aligns with the people most likely to purchase from them.
You don’t have that kind of money. So how are you going to compete?
There are so many tools already at your disposal to (at a minimum) get your frame of mind wrapped around the concept of HOW to do this. The first thing that you need to do though is to make a commitment to doing it. If you go into this process with anything less than a determination to be able to describe in a three- or four-sentence paragraph a clear description of your ideal client (and it is okay to find that you have two or three of them), all hope is lost.
I’m not sure why any business owner would own a business not knowing precisely to whom they are selling. All you’re doing is making life more difficult on yourself. But I will tell you this. MOST business owners don’t have these descriptions readily in mind.
That’s why so many entrepreneurs purchase “do it for me” products from websites. That makes you feel like you are accomplishing your goals. “Look. I have professional content on my website, my social feed.”
Yeah. But did you attract the audience that makes you the most money? Did you attract more repeat clients so you can rely less on finding new customers, and more on wowing the ones you have?
Become a Fan
Idea number one. Join some Facebook Fan Pages of brands you love. Is Live Aqua Cancun a product you personally love and love to sell? Then follow their fan page. Listen to what people are talking about. What kinds of pictures are they posting and how do the other 11,000 fans on their page respond to those pictures and posts?
What questions do the fans ask each other on a regular basis? Guess what? If you start providing content on your website, in your YouTube videos, in your social newsfeed, that answers these most pressing questions and needs, more people interested in Live Aqua type products are going to find you.
Check out who posts. Can you see a consistent set of attributes in these people? Where they live? What they like to do with their time? How far out they book? All of this can help you build marketing campaigns.
ONE CAUTION: Do not try to directly sell on Fan Pages. That’s boorish behavior. Most fans are not there to be pitched by you and the admins of these pages may actually toss you out if someone complains that you’re trolling for business.
Upgrade Your Sales Script
Do you have a consistent sales script for phone consultation calls? Does that sales script align with your website lead form? If not, you may be accumulating too many disparate pieces of information, and thus you aren’t able to form a clear picture of your ideal client.
How about your web intake form? Do the questions afford you the opportunity to see consistent trends? If you only have open-ended text fields, very likely not. If you have a goodly amount of fixed response questions, like check boxes, multiple choice pre-populated answers, etc., over time you very likely will start to see some trends.
If your web form submits the answers to your CRM, when is the last time you downloaded that data to see what common answers are there?
At Travel Business Mastermind, we like to work with clients who have been in business at least 2-3 years for our core product, Travel Business Accelerator, for a number of key reasons. When we are on sales calls, we’re asking the same consistent questions about who this person is to ensure that our product will be a good match for them. Make sure your sales script is aligned with your business too.
There are so many other ways for you to dig deeper into the mind of your client persona. Some quick hits here:
- Start hosting regular polls on your social media asking questions that reveal the deeper wants and needs of your clients.
- Ask more open-ended questions when you post on social, so that you’re receiving more comments that describe who your fans are.
- Think about sending a short survey to your existing client base using a tool like Survey Monkey.
If you feel like you don’t know where to start when you want to post on social, draft an email, revise your web copy, odds are that’s because you don’t know whom you’re speaking to. Make a commitment to knowing them as completely as you can. Today.
Richard D’Ambrosio is a master storyteller who, for more than 30 years, has helped leading brands like American Express, Virgin Atlantic Airways, the Family Travel Association (FTA), and Thomas Cook Travel tell their stories to their customers, the media, and employees. A professional business coach and content marketing consultant with his own firm, Travel Business Mastermind, Richard most recently has worked with The Travel Institute, Flight Centre USA and a variety of host agencies and tour companies, helping entrepreneurs refine their brands and sharpen their sales and marketing skills. Richard writes regularly about retail travel agencies, social media & marketing, and business management.