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What business are you in?

In last week’s blog post I made a comment about each of us being in the business of solving your customer’s problems. I’m sorry, but it may come as a bit of a surprise that your customers are not that interested in your products or services or what you actually do. They are in fact coming to you solve a problem they have. If they could take a pill or push a button and magically make the problem go away, they probably would. If there was a robot that did the job for a fraction of the price you charged, would your customer keep coming back to you?  Probably not.

But do you really know who your customers are and what is the biggest problem they have that you solve?

The days of mass advertising are over. No longer can you afford to advertise all over the place in the hope that a small group of potential clients actually find you and are interested in buying what you have to sell at that point in time.

Instead, we need try a different approach and be focussed on a particular group of people, or niche, who we can best serve, we get the best results for and we like to work with. This group of clients is our target market.

A common fear that people have is that if I focus on a particular small group of people, surely I will earn less or even turn away a large amount of work. This simply isn’t the case. An old adage in business is that if you try to speak to everyone you say nothing to anyone. Just because you speak specifically to your target market, it doesn’t mean that you won’t necessarily work with people who are not in your target market.

Take, for example, the specialist sports doctor who specialises in knee related issues. He targets elite athletes and those competing in high levels of amateur sport. He focusses specifically on knee-related issues instead of treating the general range of sports injuries. Because he specifically communicates to the market that he is a specialist in knee injuries for elite athletes, he is in fact more in demand. Think about it for a second. If you had a knee problem who would you see to get if fixed? A general sports doctor or someone who treats the knees of top name athletes?

Who is your target market?

To work this out firstly you need to understand who your ideal customer is. In other words, who is your target market. The immediate thought most people have is: “anyone who needs a BASIX or NATHERS Assessment done”. Whilst this at one level is true, it’s not quite specific enough.

Having worked with hundreds of thermal performance assessors and sustainability consultants I have identified that despite what you may first think, even NatHERS Assessors specialise and service a specific target market. Some only work with developers to do ratings on multi-storey buildings, others only rate their own designs, whereas some only work with architects that do renovations and additions to existing residential houses.

Whilst each client is paying for a NatHERS or BASIX assessment do be done, each of these target markets have different ‘problems’ they are trying to solve and therefore value the solutions offered by assessors quite differently. A developer, for example, largely wants an assessment done quickly and cheaply, often at the last minute, and wants to minimise any additional costs. Whereas, an architect doing additions to residential homes, wants to maximise thermal performance, the time in which the assessment is done is not that pressing, and cost for better performing materials is often not a big deal.

What is their main pain point?

Once you have identified your specific target customer, you can now start to zoom in on their specific pain points and problems. Each specific target market has a unique set of pain points to problems that are not either relevant to or thought about by a different target market.  The developer wants quick and cheap, whereas the home owner wants the best thermal performance for their dollar. What attracts a developer turns off the home owner, and vice versa.

To work out their pain point, put yourselves in your customers shoes and ask yourself these questions:

  • What keeps me up at night?
  • What do I get frustrated at?
  • If I had a magic wand, what one thing would I wish I could change?

Another way is to ring up the customers that you know best and ask them these questions.

Often the answers you get are not the real problem but are in fact the symptoms, so you need to try the “three whys” approach and map out what the real problems are.

One problem I hear a lot of NatHERS assessors talk about is that they need more leads. When I ask “Why do you need more leads?”, this often triggers a few more answers. Often the answer is “Because I need to make more money”. When you then ask “Why to do need to make more money?”, you again get more interesting answers. Often it is “Because I am working 50+ hours per week and not making any money”. Interestingly the solution to this problem may not actually be solved by more clients, as this makes the thermal performance assessor even busier causing them to work even more hours. Instead, the solution may be either systematising the business or ‘out-tasking’ low value work to someone else. I’ll address these solutions in future posts.

It is only when you get laser focused on who your target market is and what their biggest problems are that you can develop a full and remarkable solution that keeps your customers coming back, has them refer people to you and allow you to put up your prices whilst turning away work.

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