Marketing is like dating and relationships.  Here are the steps:


  • Know the type of person you are looking for
  • Attract their attention
  • Make a great first impression
  • Establish a relationship
  • Earn trust
  • Maintain the relationship
  • Keep it fresh

Can you see the parallels between dating, relationships and marketing?  From the marketing perspective, the first step is to define your customers.  This is done through developing a customer profile or buyer persona.  Check out the article in Getting Started that has a some details around this process.

OceanAttracting the attention of potential customers has fundamentally changed for most (not all) businesses.  The industry best practice used to be the “push” approach.  Newspaper / Magazine ads, emails, cold calls, billboards, etc.  While these are still effective for many products, things have changed.  Competition that used to be in the hundreds or thousands are now in the millions.  With the digital revolution, products are researched online and you are a drop in the ocean of competitors.

So if we don’t push our information to potential buyers, how do we get their attention?  In short, you have to attract them.  You have understand their problems and provide a solution that is attractive to them.  Here are some possible characteristics of what attracts potential buyers:

  • Free solutions to their problem(s)
  • Their problem described exactly the way THEY would describe THEIR problem
  • They can easily find you and your solution
  • Solutions that are better than others and easy for them to understand and implement

Let’s discuss these in more detail:

Free solutions to their problem(s) –

How do you make money if you give solutions away?

freeRemember that we are establishing a relationship and at this point, and are simply trying to get their attention.  Put your mind in customer mode and you are looking for the answer to the question “When is the right time of the year to plant grass?”.  You search Google and see one response that says “Learn how to plant grass for only $25” and you see another that says “Best practices for when and how to plant grass in your area”.  Which one will you click on?  Pretty clear that you don’t want to pay for the answer to a simple question.  So in this example, a small business wants to you to buy their mail-order seeds.  They post blogs on tips, techniques and best practices for what to plant, in what type of soil, in what climates, with which tools, etc.  Amateur and even professional gardeners begin following your blogs to learn.  Your blog site also happens to sell seeds.  So you attract through the blogs; You establish a relationship and earn trust through the value of the free information you provide; and you convert them to customers.

Their problem described exactly the way THEY would describe THEIR problem –

ListeningAs we described in “How to Test Your Business Idea Part 1”, it is important to know your potential buyer and to view your business through their “window”.  Attracting a following of potential buyers requires that you completely get into their heads and be able to create content (information) that exactly describes THEIR problem AND provides a solution THEY understand and can implement.  Attracting customers also requires that you are among the few that understand their problem and have a viable solution.  So this rules out providing solutions that have already been provided 100s of times.  Look for unique problems and/or unique solutions.

They can easily find you and your solution –

LookingThose unique problems / solutions just described need to be distinguishable by unique keywords.  Those keywords, when used in a Google (or other social media tool), need to be unique enough to be found by your potential buyers.  If a search using your keywords presents your content on page 100 of the search results, it is very unlikely that your get your buyer’s attention.  Details about search tools and how to improve your ranking (search engine optimization – SEO) will be covered in a future article.

Solutions that are better than others and easy for them to understand and implement

HugOnce your content is displayed in a search result, there is a brief sentence displayed to summarize the content.  If that sentence doesn’t communicate to the buyer that your content solves their problem, you will lose to another content provider.  Think carefully about how you word your summary and your content to ensure you are speaking the buyer’s language.  You want them to LOVE your solution!

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Dan Gillingham is a retired executive, business owner and is currently volunteering as a small business counselor and mentor with SCORE

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