Teresa owns a veterinarian practice. She’s been in business for nearly 30 years (about as long as EMyth!), and she still loves every minute of it. Lately however, business has been slow so Teresa reached out to a local marketing consultant for some help.
One of the things the consultant suggested was that she attract new clients by using coupons and discounts. Teresa approached me with some concerns about that approach. She’d worked hard to establish her practice as a high-end, high-quality care facility and she charged accordingly. She worried that offering discounts would attract a “less than ideal clientele.” At the same time, she wondered if the word of mouth marketing she’d always relied on was simply not as valuable as it was when she first began her practice some 30 years ago.
We started our discussion with a clarification about the EMyth definition of marketing and how it differs from advertising. Advertising is what EMyth refers to as lead generation, which is the magnet that you use to attract the customers that you want for your business. Marketing, from the EMyth perspective, is the process you use to determine who and where those people are, what they buy from you, why they buy from you, and how they think.
Before Teresa can begin to answer her question about coupons and discounts, or whether word-of-mouth lead generation is still effective for her business or not, we have to take a strategic look at her customers first. Small business owners often leap to advertising activities before they’ve thought through a strategy from their customer’s perspective. This is like putting the proverbial cart before the horse (perhaps the literal horse, in a veterinarian’s case.)
Who are you talking to?
Marketing is the process of discovering the truth about your target market—the market segment that has the highest probability of purchasing your product or service. Teresa was right on track when she mentioned wanting to attract the ideal clientele. So the first thing we did was some exploration and research into her past and current clients. We analyzed who her most profitable primary client truly is. Then, based on her vision for the business and its strategic direction, what her ideal client will look like going forward. We examined what product/services they were most likely to buy (that also have the highest profit margin). We identified their demographics (age, education, marital status, income, education, occupation, etc.) and location in relation to her office.
Once we knew the demographics of her target market, it was time to speculate about how they think, their purchase preference profiles, and ultimately what they need to hear and feel from her in order to do business with her.
What do they need from you?
I asked her to put herself in her clients’ shoes.
“Imagine your beloved dog is seriously injured. You’re distraught. You’re emotional. You’re in a state of panic. You need to get help right away. You can’t imagine life without your canine companion and can’t bear to see your dog suffering.
Now you’re holding your injured pet in your arms sitting in the waiting room at the vet’s office. What are your needs at that moment? You must begin to think of your clients as emotional beings first, and consumers second—or you won’t be able to effectively attract them (and service them!) at a level that is really going to hit them where it matters most.”
For most of my Mastery coaching clients, this is a real eye opening process. You’re typically so busy; you don’t stop to “walk a mile in their shoes.” And you must. It’s a very powerful and necessary piece of the marketing puzzle.
Armed with all this knowledge about her target market—who they are, where they are, and how they think—Teresa can begin to create a strategy for the best way to attract them through lead generation activities. Only with a finely tuned marketing strategy that focuses with laser precision on the market that is most likely to purchase what she most desires to sell, is she ready to take the next step.
How do you reach them?
Will discounts and coupons appeal to her target market? In this case, the answer is quite easy; the psychographics of her target market find reliability and quality of service to be more important than price. The discount and coupon strategy might bring in some business, but it also has her competing for an audience that is most interested in price, and that’s not going to attract the kind of clients her business needs to thrive.
When we examined word-of-mouth referrals from the perspective of her target market, we felt strongly that this was the area to leverage for Teresa. Her customers were the sort of folks that needed to hear an emotional message delivered through the channel of someone they trust. The question then became, how could she be more proactive about asking for referrals?
And that’s the question she can now pose to her marketing consultant. With a very clear picture of who her target market is and how they need to hear from her, she will give that consultant the parameters they need to deliver the results she’s looking for.