You know your business better than anyone. After all, you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into building and marketing your vision. You have every reason to be completely confident that you are promoting the most enticing attributes of your business.

Or do you?

Market What Your Customers Really WantFocusing on the Wrong Attributes Can Lead to Big Disappointment

It’s all too common for business owners to be so closely connected to their service or product that they misjudge what it is about their offering that their market will care about most. When the wrong attributes are marketed, your target audience will struggle to feel a connection to your brand, making it difficult for your organization to hit its sales goals.

Two of the most common reasons business owners market the wrong features of their business are:

  1. A lack of consideration for the emotional effect varying attributes could have on potential customers
  2. An incorrect assumption that the attributes that show company credibility are of interest to customers

Market What Your Customers Really Want – Not What You Want Them to Care About

Forget about what you think is great about your business.

Instead, think about your ideal customers. From their perspective, if they’re considering purchasing the product or service offered by your company, what do they really want? What would compel them to purchase?

Hint: it might not be something you are currently marketing. It might not even be an attribute of your business that you’ve spent much time thinking about.

There may be a mismatch between what you are currently marketing and what the people who purchase your product are looking for. The good news is that what your customers really want might already be part of your product or scope of services– you just haven’t figured out how to best highlight it yet.

Ask “Where Would I Send My Mother?”

Take, for example, one of our clients: a senior services network offering – among many other things – an assisted living home. The organization has earned various accreditations and offers a variety of payment options for residents – both of which are important for running their nonprofit as successfully as possible. But if you’re looking for a home to move your elderly mother into, are the number of accreditations really what will draw you to any particular assisted living home?

Instead of looking at the facts about how the home is run, we wanted to look at what the organization does to make their residents feel at home. What we found out from first hand feedback was that residents raved about the chef-prepared meals made on-site daily and were always looking forward to the wine and cheese happy hours.

To test the ability of this small yet emotional attribute to move people, let’s walk through a simple exercise:

When you think about your mother living in an accredited assisted living home, what images come to mind?

If you’re drawing a blank (like I am), it’s because the accreditation of the home doesn’t tell you anything about the experience she would have living there. In other words, it’s not something you can picture.

Why? Accreditations are boring. Important? Absolutely. Compelling? Not if we don’t know what it means for day-to-day experiences.

Accreditations can impact almost every aspect of a business, from leadership to meal choices. While the quantity and names of accreditations themselves won’t spark interest in most audiences, the outcomes of these accreditations might.

Now, when you think about your mother living at an assisted living home with delicious chef-prepared meals, what images come to mind?

You may have thought about fresh, brightly colored food. Maybe you imagined the scent of a home cooked meal. Or maybe, like me, you pictured your mother, feeling happy and healthy, laughing over dinner with her friends. Fresh cooked meals may sound like a small detail – and they may, in fact, be – but when you consider how miserable your mom would likely be if she were eating bad food every day, this small detail suddenly has a much bigger emotional impact.

When you think about the two options, which one would you choose to send your mother to?

Finding the Right Attributes to Market

If you have a feeling that you may be marketing the wrong attributes of your business, you’ll need to figure out what your business offers that helps ease pain, solve problems or makes life more enjoyable for your customers.

To do this, you’ll want to embark on a small market research project. Talk to your current customers: what do they like about your product or service? What do they wish they knew prior to purchase? What surprised them about your product?

You’re likely to be surprised by your customers’ experience and emotional ties to your product or service.

Not sure how to get started with a market research project targeting your own customers? Gather a sample of current customers that you can email a survey to. The survey should be short and sweet (the shorter the survey, the more likely your customers will complete it) and participation should be incentivized, if possible.

Have you struggled to find what parts of your business capture the attention of your target market? Let us know in the comments!