With recent news stories highlighting the ongoing misunderstandings about breastfeeding, I decided to dedicate this blog to what is an often divisive and explosive topic.
It shouldn't be, but it has become that way because of the many misconceptions that surround it. Misconceptions that are both the result and cause of a lot of mixed messages.
Imagine you relaunch a product. It's been out of vogue for a while but now there seems to be a demand for it again. You just throw it out to the market. You tell your sales people to get out there and sell, sell, sell. You don't bother too much with a communications strategy, as everyone already knows what it is… don't they? You don't bother much with an after-sales strategy either. People could use it before, couldn’t they? They'll figure it out for themselves again.
- A big take up initially, followed by product abandonment. Users are eager at first, but then move on when they struggle to use it and find that help is hard to find. Sure, there is some support available, from kindly souls who have figured out how to use it and are willing to help others, but it’s very limited in relation to numbers of users.
- A large drop in brand equity. There are those who don't want it who feel they are being subjected to a hard sale and those who do want to use it are disenchanted by the lack of after sales support.
- Confusion reigns! Lots of contradicting messages fly around as people share semi-facts and half-truths, in the absence of any clear concise messaging on how to use the product.
No self-respecting business would launch a product in this way, would they?
Well that's what has happened with breastfeeding. I know it is not a business and its potential market is on a completely different scale but the same concepts apply. I don't know what the solution is for breastfeeding. It's no doubt complex and it is definitely beyond the scope of this blog.
However, as business owners you can learn from the breastfeeding example.
1) Define your ideal customer. Don't try and sell to everyone. Not everyone who can use your product will actually want it.
2) Understand your customers’ needs. What benefits they will receive from using your products or services? What pains will you be relieving? Or, what pains do you need to relieve for them to use the product successfully?
3) Build a value proposition that responds to these needs in a way your ideal customer will instantly recognise as valuable. Think about what they need both pre-and post-purchase.
4) Create a clear communications strategy – make sure the messages are consistent, align with your overall objectives and resonate with your target audience, your ideal customer.
5) Start small and test. Keep what works and refine what doesn't.
6) If your goal is to eventually reach many more people, then build thought leadership and education into your strategy, to convert more people into your ideal customer.
7) Think about your whole customer journey. Not just about getting them to buy, but what happens after. After all you don't want to make a right boob of your business!
This article also appears on LinkedIn.
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