Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ETR: Courting Your Ideal Customer

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Issue No. 3027 - $1.00

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back to the Basics
By Jason Holland

Technology lets us do so many interesting and wonderful things in Internet marketing. But, as AdWords expert Howie Jacobson points out in his essay today, sometimes we just have to get back to basics.

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"In business, you get what you want by giving other people what they want."

Alice MacDougall

Courting Your Ideal Customer
By Howie Jacobson

Google AdWords is nothing more or less than a medium for direct marketing. So every now and then, I put away my books about the latest online techniques and reach for the classic texts.

Here's some of what you can learn from the old masters:

There are three elements to any direct-marketing offer -- the offer itself, the creative, and the list.

The offer is the thing you're selling.

The creative is the copy you use to let people know about the offer.

The list is the group of people who will see the creative.

The list is more important than the creative or the offer.

It doesn't matter how good the product, or how well you build desire for it. If you're selling to people who aren't interested in the product, can't afford it, or don't like you, it ain't gonna work.

The entire art of direct marketing, in fact, consists of matching offers to lists with appropriate creative copy.

So it's useful to know as much about your market as possible.

Copywriting guru Ken McCarthy says it's more important to know your market than the techniques of marketing.

Online marketing guru Perry Marshall says that every commercial failure represents a lack of knowledge about the prospect.

Groucho Marx says, "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

And I say, keep reading to discover two simple exercises that can help you speak to your ideal customer persuasively and with emotional impact.

What Is an Ideal Customer?

Your ideal customer is the one who absolutely should buy your product or service. It's just perfect for them. They have the need, they have the money, they have the buy-in of any other stakeholders (spouses, parents, co-workers, etc.), and they have a natural affinity for you and your company.

Here's a quick and dirty "Ideal Customer" test:

When you think of them buying from your competitor, you become overwrought.

You hyperventilate. You sweat. You want to drive to their house and shake some sense into them.

The 7-Step Ideal Customer Exercise

1. Find a blank sheet of paper. (I recommend using pen and paper, not a computer, for this exercise.)

2. Take several deep breaths and relax as much as you can. (If you wake up several hours later with drool all over your paper, you obviously needed the sleep. Get a fresh sheet and continue.)

3. Imagine that you are your ideal prospect.

  • What's your name? (Really, give yourself a name. Don't skip this because it seems silly.)

  • What's your age? Marital status? Do you have kids?

  • Where do you work? What do you do for a living?

  • What do you look like?

  • What do you believe in?

  • What communities do you belong to?

  • What really ticks you off?

  • Who do you want to be like?

  • What's your role as you perform your online search for this product/service? Parent? Hobbyist? Employee?

  • What's important to you about your performance in that role? To be a hero? To avoid mistakes? To look good? To have fun?

4. Now imagine your ideal customer at the exact moment he or she is about to search Google for your main keyword.

5. At the top of the paper, write the following:

"If I could only..."

And complete that thought from the point of view of your prospect. What are you hoping for? What are you afraid of? How will you know when you've found the right solution?

Talk about the emotional as well as technical aspects of the task. Is it fun? Something you're looking forward to solving? Are you worried about failing? About making a mistake? Who might be judging or second-guessing you? What triggered your search? Your choice of keywords?

Write at least two paragraphs, more if you like. Try to fill the page with the thoughts and emotions of your ideal customer, as they relate to this search.

6. When you're done, search Google for your main keyword and look at the search results page from your ideal customer's eyes.

Do any of the ads or organic listings really speak to you?

What do you (as your ideal prospect) want the ad to say? What do you want to be promised? By whom?

7. Now take a fresh sheet of paper and start writing ads for your ideal customer. Don't edit or critique them -- just brainstorm and come up with at least five different ones.

Pay special attention to the headlines. Can you say something in the headline that immediately shows your ideal prospect that you understand him or her in a deeper way than anyone else?

The Alternative (Even More Powerful) Method:

Do the above exercise with a partner. Tell him about your ideal customer, and read him what you wrote after "If I could only..." Then have them sit and write ads for you for about 10 minutes.

You'll be amazed at the results!

Case Study

When Perry Marshall's roundtable group went through this exercise, Jamey and Joey Bridges of OnlineRealEstateSuccess.com raved about getting nine new ads to test in just six minutes.

While it's great when someone raves about an exercise right after doing it, that doesn't always translate into business results. So I contacted Joey to see what happened.

Joey wrote back:

"The concept that we came up with through the exercise was eliminating the term 'Real estate marketing' from the headline of the ad. While that used to work, it made us look like everyone else.

"We decided that we need to reach directly to our target customer -- a real estate agent who needed more leads and wanted more leads from marketing, not cold calling.

"By changing the headline, our click through rate (CTR) jumped from 2.15% to 3.01%."

So... definitely take advantage of other people's brains when you can!

[Ed. Note: Howie Jacobson is an Internet marketing expert specializing in pay-per-click advertising. He's been offering breakthrough insights on Internet marketing, Google AdWords, and online business building recently at his Camp Checkmate events. The next Camp Checkmate takes place in Chicago, from June 10-11. Sign up by April 30 to get Early Bird pricing. Space is limited to 40 people. Go here to find out more.

Figuring out your ideal customer is just one of the skills you'll learn at Early to Rise's upcoming 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference. Every year, we bring in experts like Howie Jacobson to give you the tools and techniques to be successful. Come with nothing -- no product... no technical knowledge... no business experience -- and leave five days later with your own fully operational Internet business. Find out more here.]

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Today's Words That Work: Overwrought

Overwrought (OH-ver-RAWT) -- from the Old English for "overwork" -- means extremely or excessively excited or agitated.

Example (as used by Howie Jacobson today): "When you think of [your ideal customer] buying from your competitor, you become overwrought. You hyperventilate. You sweat. You want to drive to their house and shake some sense into them."

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