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When an enterprise is ready to be launched, it makes a lot of sense to take a little time to look at things from the customer’s viewpoint in order to enhance the venture’s chances of success. It can be hard for a manufacturer to step into the customer’s shoes, and involvement in technical and logistical details may blur the most important factor in running a business – customer satisfaction. Let us look at the common mistakes made by start-up companies, and see how best they can be rectified or avoided.
These mistakes all have one thing in common – the customer is not the focus in such cases. The primary objective of sales material is to engage the customer at the first level of interest, and this interest should be followed up appropriately. But in order to get the prospective customer’s attention in the first place, you should avoid making the mistakes discussed below.
Website that waxes eloquent about the company’s achievements rather than offering customer focused information
A website that blows its own trumpet without giving the customer or prospect the information being sought, defeats its own purpose. While details of the team’s hard work or the manager’s brilliance may be riveting to those within the company, such information is of little or no use to the customer and can actually put him or her off.
How do you avoid this mistake? When you are constructing your website, you need to make a conscious effort to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think about what he or she is looking for, think about what would be the keywords used when a prospect is using a search engine, and how best to ensure that your company shows up high on the list of results. And if a customer does visit your website, it is essential that he or she finds what is needed in the first few seconds of landing there. Fancy graphics, an animated logo and a home page that uses a lot of words to say very little may please the CEO of the company, but they are not what the customer is looking for. The website needs to provide the details the customer really wants as quickly and simply as possible – further information can be provided at a later stage. Make sure that your website is customer-centric rather than ego-centric.
Online and print sales material that over-emphasise technical and engineering aspects
A potential customer needs to know what the start-up company is offering. Sales material should be presented in such a way that the customer gets a clear picture of what he or she will get. Benefits should be presented up-front, and technical details can be minimised. Complicated engineering aspects may not be the information the customer is looking for at all, and boasting about these areas rather than showcasing benefits will have a negative or neutral effect.
The idea of the product has to be sold effectively on the website, and this is not done by overloading the prospect with technical information that does not directly affect his or her buying decision.
While a product or service may be showcased well on a website, this is not enough for effective selling. Customers need to be led to the point of purchase.
Active selling is necessary; a product may be innovative, useful and reasonably priced, but unless marketing efforts are planned and a well thought out marketing strategy implemented, the product is unlikely to succeed. It’s not enough to merely offer a description of the product or service and then sit back and expect the world to beat a path to your door. You have to draw your prospect in, and convent prospects into sales by active selling processes.
Over-generalisation of the product
This mistake is frequently made by entrepreneurs who believe that it is better not to be too specific about a product to keep as many customers as possible interested, but this could have the opposite of the desired result.
In the efforts to avoid risk of missing out on some customers, the product is described so vaguely that the real prospects are left cold. It is very important to identify your target audience, understand your most likely customer thoroughly, and direct marketing efforts, product descriptions, advertising and so on to a specific group of people who are likely to buy. This will be much more effective than trying to spread your efforts over too large a market, and then failing to get a good market share.
Often, too many details about the product are force-fed to the prospect at a single time. Sales material should tantalise as well as attract, and too much information can cause a loss of interest.
In this context, ideally, it is important to focus on a specific area that will be projected to potential customers through sales and advertising material. Since the primary objective here is getting the customer interested in the product or service, a brochure, for instance, should tell the reader just enough to pique his interest and make him want to learn more. There should be a call to action included, with details on how the prospective customer can get more information, or meet with sales personnel. Once the customer evinces interest, it is the sales force’s job to convert that interest into a purchase.
At different stages, different kinds of sales material and marketing may be used. One medium could be used to attract new customers, while a regular customer could be rewarded for loyalty in another medium. A comprehensive, effective marketing plan will be one with material that tells the customer what he or she wants to hear at his or her stage of engagement in the sales process. Thus, a new prospect should be given a concise introduction to the product, someone who has asked for further information could be given information about the company and the edge the product has over competition. So marketing needs to be attended to diligently and strategies evolved by an expert in the field.