What's the most important skill in marketing?
Your networking skills? Copywriting ability? Creativity? Ability to deliver a great presentation or to get referrals?
All important skills. But I believe there's something way more important.
It's the ability to put yourself in your client's shoes.
To think like them. Understand what they want and need. What they feel. What angers them, what fills them with joy.
You can be the greatest marketing strategist in the world. Have the best execution skills. But if you don't deeply understand what your clients are looking for then your marketing is going to miss the mark every time.
And I don't just mean the obvious.
What they need is often straightforward. And they'll often tell you what they want too (not necessarily the same thing as they need).
But understanding why they want it. The real motivating factor that they can maybe only half articulate themselves. That's the real key to marketing communications that resonate.
You can see the impact of such understanding and empathy in a non-marketing example here
Understanding what they fear is vital too. They may absolutely want what you've got, but they won't buy if they're worried you don't have experience working with people like them. Or that your business is too big, or too small. Or that you'll be too tough on them. Or too soft. Or a whole host of other concerns they may have.
If you don't know what those concerns are, you can't deal with them.
And you've got to know what else is on their mind and what else is going on in their world.
I was speaking to a client recently who described a conversation he had with a CFO where the executive showed him his email inbox. “I get 30 emails from consultants and coaches wanting meetings with me every day” he said. “If I don't know them already, I delete them”.
Try emailing clients like that. Or cold calling.
Offering an email newsletter on your website is fine if your clients don't have a 100 other people doing just the same. If they do, you need to be offering a lot more to get their attention.
Clients don't view your marketing in isolation. Your marketing appears in their inbox, doormat, ears or eyes along with thousands of other messages daily. If you don't understand what else they're being exposed to how can you hope to do something different and grab their attention?
All good marketing starts with a deep understanding of your client.
And that's why I say it's the most important skill in marketing.
Agree? Disagree? Love to hear your views – drop me a comment below.
Photo Credit: Mike Licht