The Market Determines the Marketing

Marketing & Writing

This is easily the most concrete and underrated truth of business.

If you spend any time trying to “market” your business—whether you sell products or services—without a deep understanding of who your customer is, you’re wasting time and money.

Even without a “deep” understanding of your customer, you can still win. Most business owners don’t even have a shallow idea.

Their customer is anyone and everyone who will swipe their credit card.

This is a sure path to failure. It won’t work. And it will hurt for a long time.

My peers in the web design industry commit this error more than many others I’ve seen. If you’re a web designer, every business is your customer, because every business needs a website.



That may or not be true, but it’s irrelevant. If a customer doesn’t have a good reason to do business with you, they won’t. And being milquetoast is no way to convince a customer to work with you.

You see, there’s only one reason people buy anything from anyone: Reduced risk of perceived failure.

So if you’re a florist and you own a flower shop, and someone is soliciting you with their website design services, which are you more likely to respond to:

“Hey, we build websites. I noticed yours was looking a little outdated. I’d love to provide a free quote to redesign the site for you — is that something you’d be interested in?”
“Hey there, I see you own a flower shop. We work with florists and event designers to craft a beautiful web presence that brings new business straight to you. Here’s a copy of our free guide, “10 Mistakes Flower Shop Owners Almost Always Make on Their Website.”

The difference is stark.

But it’s not just because of the targeting—that’s the surface layer. Underneath the targeting, in the florist’s subconscious mind, a risk assessment is happening.

About option 1, it’s saying things like:

This person is telling me about themself. What about me?
Ouch, they kind of offended me — do they know I built our website? — I think it looks okay…
Free quote – yeah, sure, but you obviously want money.
And yuck, that means a phone call or a long form to fill out. I don’t even know you.
Interested in a call? You’re making me work for it? Heck no. This seems irrelevant. I don’t have time to help meet your sales quota.

About option 2, it’s saying things like:

Why, yes, I DO own a flower shop.
Oh! I’m a florist and do event design. They work specifically with people like me?
Our website’s okay, but I wouldn’t say it’s beautiful.
New customers? Yep, definitely want that.
Oh! A gift!
Geez, I better get this guide to see if I’m making those specific mistakes. It’s free, after all.

Again, you shouldn’t think of this assessment happening consciously over a period of minutes. This process happens subconsciously over a period seconds.

And what it boils down to a reduction in risk. The first option is super risky. It asks too much of the customer and has a potential status decrease to boot. The customer will spend too many calories trying to figure out if this person is even qualified to build their business a website.

In the second option, there’s built-in risk reduction. No status decreases. The designer pre-framed their trust and qualifications by appealing to the market, and the call to action was a helpful guide that would immediately identify potential mistakes being made.

Zero risk.

And with that, the second designer will receive permission to hear more marketing messages (probably in the form of email). The first designer just increased their website’s bounce rate.

So that’s the difference.

You can’t create marketing messages like that with a boring, milquetoast, generic pool of potential customers.

The sooner you learn that lesson—no matter what business you’re in—the better your business will be for it. You will grow.

May 15, 2024

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Hey, I'm Steve — a Christian, entrepreneur, thinker, and creator. Thanks for stopping by!

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