Most companies start marketing with the question: what does our product do? And that’s where they go wrong. Because your customers — whether they’re integrators or farmers or yoga teachers — don’t care about what your product does. They care about the problem it solves and how it benefits them.
But different systems integrators face different problems. To market to them, you need to understand who is facing which problems.
In this article, learn how to improve your marketing and segment your customers by understanding your customers’ perspective.
Who are you selling to?
All marketing should start with a simple question: who am I trying to sell to?
If you don’t answer that question — regardless of your industry, product, or service — your marketing efforts will be more expensive and less effective.
We asked Tim Bigoness, CMO at D-Tools, for his take.
“Successful companies, no matter what industry they’re in, understand who they’re talking to. And if there’s a problem, how do they solve it? And what are the benefits? Not what does it do, not what are the features. But how does it impact the customer?”
For companies marketing to integrators, Bigoness says, it “comes back to marketing 101. You need to understand your audience, what problems you’re trying to solve for that audience, and how your product addresses those needs.”
Focus on problems you see customers facing
The next question then becomes: how do I understand, and then segment, my B2B audience?
The answer: by noticing the problems they face.
Some of your customers face different problems than others. This means you can group customers together based on the core problem you know they’re facing (which your product solves for them). Having a different core problem means using your product for a different reason.
To understand those reasons, Bigoness recommends getting feedback from your long-term customers.
Focus these efforts on the types of customers you want more of, and get their perspective on why they’ve been using your product. The better you understand them as a group, the better you can market to them.
For typical manufacturers, Bigoness points out, integrators are a channel rather than an end user. But even those who don’t sell directly to integrators should understand the problems that both the integrator and the end user face.
That’s because understanding those problems leads to effective messaging. When both segments understand how they benefit, sales increase. End users will request your products more often, and integrators will have incentive to recommend your products.
Regardless of your audience, Bigoness says, “If you’re focusing on the value that you bring to the customer, more often than not, you’re going to be successful. If you’re not approaching it from that perspective, then you’re probably going to be making mistakes and falling short.”
Don’t lump all customers together
If you try to speak to everyone at once, your message won’t resonate with anyone. Start simple. Look for one big problem that segments of your customers share.
To start segmenting your audience, Bigoness says you can start broadly— “company size, discipline, type of projects they do (for AV integrators), residential, commercial, roles within each of those organizations.”
From there, boil things down to frustrations that an individual person within an audience experiences on a daily basis, and the benefits they’ll experience by removing that frustration via your product.
“We always make sure that we’re identifying a pain point,” Bigoness says, “and really have solid backup and reasons and proof points for how we solve those problems.”
Once your customers are clear on that, you can get into the how and the features. People have to first understand why (“What’s in it for me?”). And the only way to communicate the why is to understand who your audience is.
Once you do, you can reach each segment of your audience with a message that’s tailored to the big problem they care about solving.
Use customer feedback in your B2B segmentation approach
Your customers’ words are more powerful than your own. Ask them for feedback to understand their perspective on the problems you’re solving. Some of the best insights you’ll get will be from existing customers, and you’ll notice trends that will help you group customers together.
Ask them why they’ve been using your solution and what’s important to them. Then use that to inform how you talk about your solution. Often, these conversations can turn into success stories.
“Whenever you can have a success story or a proof point or a customer testimonial, that’s going to be more credible” than anything cooked up in your marketing department. At D-Tools, Bigoness says, “that’s a huge part of our communication to the market now”.
Test your messaging
To figure out what’s working with your different customer segments, there’s no set-it-and-forget-it. Especially when trying something new, says Bigoness, “You have to test your messaging, and you want it to fail fast. You want to know if it’s resonating.”
Testing doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. “Some companies are really sophisticated and do a lot of A/B testing,” says Bigoness, “and sometimes it’s just as simple as, we’re going to try this message to this group and this message to that group and then see what resonates, and then switch them and see if that works.”
The important part is learning from your customers’ reactions and noticing what works well with some and less well with others.
The best tool: conversations with your customers
When it comes to segmenting your customers, there’s no one tool that can do it all for you. Bigoness says at D-Tools, they use LinkedIn and read the industry trade magazines to keep an eye on the market.
But there’s no magic tool for segmenting your customers or understanding their needs — “There’s really no substitute for getting into the conversations with your potential customers and understanding and learning what their needs are.”
Armed with their perspectives, you can segment your customers based on core problems faced, and build powerful marketing efforts speaking to those problems.