Filtering to your customers’ unique buying advantages, Part 2 Featured

8:00pm EDT September 20, 2006
Most ad campaign decisions are made in a corporate boardroom. Most marketing plans never get written. The business plans just stay in the desk drawer of the CEO. Let’s get real; your opinion really doesn’t matter. It’s time for you to step out of the corporate boardroom and identify with your customers. The problem with many advertising campaigns is that they’re mostly based on the opinions of the CEO, your executive team, and possibly the agency principal if you use one. Basically, the agency is pandering up to the CEO and giving him what he wants. This corporate mumbo-jumbo needs to stop. What businesses must realize is how important their customers really are.

How to get started
It all starts with the brand discovery meeting. Gather between five and eight employees for an interactive branding session. The objective of this discovery meeting is to determine those very special Unique Selling Advantages (USAs) that all good companies possess. Start by listing a series of facts about the organization: its origin, staff, and the products and services. The objective here is to distill these facts down through multiple steps to uncover the handful of USAs.

Now if you were to stop there, you would be like all of the other ineffective mainstream advertisers out there. You need to take it to the next level and uncover the Unique Buying Advantages (UBAs) as well.

UBAs tell us what’s most important to the customers from their viewpoint; it’s the customer’s perspective about the company or the products or services offered. UBAs include what the customer cares about the most, and the factors that motivate them to buy a product from one company over another.

Identification
USAs and UBAs are often very different because companies are not cued into what a customer wants or how a customer feels; they must understand what truly motivates customers buying power. A company must be conscious of why a customer is purchasing a product or service and the benefits they reap from the purchase.

Take the pulse of the company. The company far exceeds the executive team and is more than just the inclination of the CEO. Have someone from customer service, sales, someone from the warehouse if you have one; get a good cross section of employees who interact with customers. This is a formative process in which you begin with a broader view of the company and drill down to what the company feels is the list of selling advantages. Do not make the mistake that many organizations make by relying on the CEO and executives perspective only.

What do your customers want?
How do you find out what motivates your customers? You have to ask them. There is absolutely no way around not doing your homework, your research on your customers. It is essential that you obtain primary research and not rely solely on second hand information. Be brave enough to approach your former customers to find out how you failed them; what made them seek out another company? Utilize fundamental marketing research techniques to get to the root of what motivates and drives the customer, and what they are looking for in their lives that your product does or might be able to facilitate. From there you must compare what you think you want your product to communicate with what is meaningful to your customers and bridge the gap to create optimal results. Get through the noise and into the minds of your customers.

Competitive edge
Taking the time to complete thorough research and identify with your customers will give you a far more competitive edge. Traditional marketing and advertising usually stops at the USAs. Very rarely do you see someone statistically and strategically stopping to question and compare every message. The best way to know that your USAs and UBAs are holding true is when your company is mentioned, your target customers can say, ‘that company knows me and what I want.’ This gives you the initial power to stand out from the competition, strike a nerve and impact your customers in a very meaningful and emotional way so that your product becomes desired and bought.

Yes the research is trench work, but it’s necessary work in order to determine the USAs and the UBAs; it’s where the power is. That is indeed what will form and shape your creative messaging because after all that’s what your customer wants. Rather than pander up to your own ego, why don’t you pander up to your customers needs? Identifying the USAs and UBAs will enable a company to get to the “Big Idea,” and that will catapult your company forward.

MALCOLM TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain a new direction, increase revenue, and the expertise to facilitate your customers UBAs, call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.