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Four mistakes I see businesses making

Category: Blog & News

One of the great things about the work I do is the breadth of businesses and industries I get to delve into.  Common to most are four mistakes I’ve noticed.

1.     Focusing on themselves

Your customer doesn’t care about you, they care about what you can do for them. That means your website, marketing communications and presentations need to be built around their problem state first and foremost.

We build houses. I don’t care. I want to know you’ll deliver my home on time, to specification and it’s like no one else’s.

We create succession plans. I don’t care. I want to know what happens to my business when I leave it.

We inspect houses for termite damage. I don’t care. I want to know whether I should buy this property.

We are accountants. I don’t care. I want to know you’ll turn every rock to maximise my earnings.

Here are two examples for appointment scheduling software businesses:

Value proposition examples

As the examples illustrate, A is written from the perspective of the business, whereas B puts the customer’s concern front and centre. The lesson is to start with your customer in mind and write from their perspective.

Remember, people are most interested in themselves, so prove to them that you understand their world and you’ll engage their interest.

2.     Valuing form over function

Do you have a pretty website that people can’t use? Perhaps lots of white text on images or black backgrounds, or call to action buttons that match your logo? Or maybe you have doors in your office that people don’t know whether to push or pull? Or cupboards in your kitchen that no one knows how to open? 

Aesthetics are important, but not at the expense of utility. If Amazon has taught us nothing else, it’s that an ugly site with a frictionless payment process can convert to the tune of $176 billion. Focus on your behavioural optimisation – how people take the actions you want – and make it easy.

3.     Being generous to a fault

Sometimes we kill our customers with kindness. We give them multiple ways of contacting us, an endless list of products from which to choose and dazzle them with points, rewards, discounts and bonuses. It’s exhausting and confusing for them and us. Pare it back, keep it simple and remember that less can be more.

Here’s an example of an email marketing campaign (I’ve removed the identifying details). Notice they have generously given me two things to do here, and weighted both equally by making both buttons red and prominent? Bad move. All attention should be on the primary action - buying tickets, with the option to share with a friend de-emphasised.

EDM example

Start by asking yourself what you want people to do with the message you are sending them – do you want them to do something or nothing? Create a hierarchy of calls to action so they know what the most important action to take is, and have the confidence that people will expend a little more effort as long as they want something enough.

4.  Chasing the loyalty pipe dream

I’ll grant you that there are some customers who become extreme, loyal, dyed-in-the-wool fans. Think Ford vs. Holden, Apple vs. Microsoft, Nike vs. Adidas, for example. But for most businesses, customer “loyalty” is a pipedream.

Want to know if your customer is loyal? Here’s the test – would your customer stick with you even if your competitor offered a product that was better, cheaper and/or more convenient? If the answer is yes, then you may have captured their heart, otherwise you are fooling yourself.

That’s not to say customers don’t cite loyalty in surveys and expect to be rewarded for staying with you. But their real reasons for staying with you will have little to do with loyalty and more to do with laziness or fear of change.

Instead of chasing ‘loyalty’, focus on building for habits, reliance and repetition. Create low barriers to join you, high barriers to leave. Remember, customers will stay with you if it’s easier than bothering to change.

This article also appeared in Smartcompany.

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