I call Monday in my little village the Dia de Decepção or Day of Disappointment.
The bakery next door is closed and on Mondays there is a steady stream of people walking up to the door and then sadly walking away. Most of the locals know it is closed on Mondays. The tourists learn. As did I.
Yesterday, when I went into the bakery for my daily croissant, the server asked me, “Dois?” I was already prepared to tell her, “Yes, I’d like two croissants today.” (I had practiced.) She beat me to it.
The ladies in the bakery are well aware of my daily croissant habit and she didn’t want me to go without my croissant today.
She anticipated my need. (Have I mentioned how much I like the bakery ladies?)
You need to anticipate your customers’ needs.
Many customers and potential customers know what they want but may not know what they need. They are sometimes two different things. The marketing adage is to sell what people want and give them what they need.
I’m not talking about add-on sales or upsells. They have their place. I’m talking about making sure that people have what they need to succeed. If you sell a course, that might mean you have email support, a Facebook group where people can get their questions answered, or you might do a live Q&A call. Or all three. If you’re selling a shower hose, you might include the gaskets with it instead of having your (now unhappy) customer have to make a second trip back to your hardware store.
I know if a client is publishing a book in print and electronic formats, they will need two separate ISBNs. If they are someone who will be writing more than one book or who may put out an audio version of their book, I may or may not steer them towards a 10-pack of ISBNs which works out to about the same price as two ISBNs. Yes, you can buy one ISBN at a time. Yes, you can get a free ISBN from Amazon or IngramSpark. You don’t necessarily need an ISBN if you’re going to only put your eBook up on Amazon but you might want to use one anyway. Part of my job is to anticipate my client’s future needs and to know that those needs may change as their goals evolve.
Customers don’t know what they don’t know.
Many people want something because they’ve heard it’s good or it worked for someone they know. Think about weight loss programs. Tim Ferriss happily overshares his body hacking methods which worked great for him and some of the people he knows. But Tim is a 30-something male with plenty of testosterone and a working metabolism. His weight loss methods are great for him and men like him. They are not as great for women (hello hormones) and frankly, post-menopausal women just look at him and roll their eyes. (OK, me. I roll my eyes.)
Sometimes marketing is an educational process. Someone comes into your computer shop and wants a Chromebook because their friend has one and loves it. You start talking with them. Your potential customer is running a graphics business and is branching into animation. The Chromebook is obviously not a good choice for them. But until you educate them, they don’t know that. Your job is to know what they don’t know. (Though I’m pretty sure if they have been doing computer graphics for a while, they’d be at a Mac store.)
My clients don’t need to know how to implement all the different marketing strategies they could use in their business. My job is to know all those different strategies and how to implement them. Then, my job is to help them choose the best marketing strategies for their business and show them how to implement those specific strategies.
Customers don’t know what they don’t know because they don’t NEED to know it. Until they do. That’s where you come in.
You’re the expert. Act like it.
As the expert, it is your job to anticipate your customers’ needs and make sure those needs are taken care of.
People are looking for guidance. That’s why they have come to you. You need to step into the role of leader and guide them towards the right choice.
I had eye surgery with lenses put in both eyes. I could have had one lens for nearsightedness and one for farsightedness. I wasn’t sure if I would adapt to that and just opted for lenses to correct my nearsightedness. Afterwards, everyone I spoke with who had chosen the two different lenses said that they had adjusted within a week or so and were happy with their choice. My eye surgeon didn’t push me to get the two different lenses. I made an uninformed choice. As an expert, he perhaps should have made a stronger recommendation for the two different lenses.
When you give someone a choice who doesn’t know enough to make an informed decision, you are doing them a grave disservice. Too often we don’t want to overstep or be seen as pushy. We give the client options and let them choose. At that point, we are merely order takers. If our prospect makes the wrong choice because we weren’t confident enough to make the professional call, we end up with a dissatisfied client at best.
As the expert, you need to think ahead for your clients. You know what’s in front of them, you know the pitfalls and the timeline. If you’re a weight-loss coach, you know people will hit a plateau. If you’re a business coach, you know that many businesses have high and low cycles. If you’re an accountant, you know that people will be scrambling on April 14th and you need to prep those early reminders and extensions.
As business owners, we need to be aware of human nature. Fortunately, we humans are creatures of habit. Culturally, we do a lot of predictable things. We will make New Year’s resolutions on January 1st. We will break them by the second week of February (80% of them).
Start studying your customers’ behavior patterns. What are the problems that they encounter and when do those problems crop up? Once you find the patterns, you can anticipate your customers’ needs, head any problems off at the pass, and look like the genius you are.