When I sit down with a prospect or client, I first want to learn about their business. We refer to this process as a Customer Needs Analysis. The more I know about their business and the issues they face, the better job I can do offering solutions to help them. I am asking:

How did they get “there”, where is “there” and where would they like to be in the future. What challenges are they facing? It is also important to identify their competition. What do the others do right, what do they do wrong? Once you accurately identify their competition you can focus on what makes them different. It is important that my prospect/client is also honest about what they do right and also be honest about what needs improvement. Are they easy to get to? Is parking adequate? Is their building clean and inviting? Are the people greeting the customers friendly and attentive? Why do people want to come? Why should they want to come?

Once you identify what makes you unique, it is time to get the word out. I hear business owners say their best source of advertising is word of mouth. That is great but it takes a long time to pass a message by word of mouth alone. When I begin offering solutions, it is important that I be thinking about their customer. What do they look like? What are their activities? What is their Age? Gender? Do I have a station or format that will reach that particular demographic.

I will not be successful until they are successful so it does me no good to place them where we miss their target or put the wrong message out there. Once I have determined we have a good fit, it is important to have an effective message. We want to clear of clichés like “family owned and operated”, “in business since 1960”, “friendly customer service”…they may have and be all those things but they need to think about what that means to a consumer. Touch the emotions. Think of what makes someone want to patronize a business. I have been a long time customer of Roger’s Pharmacy, what I love about Roger’s is they know me. They know my name, they ask about my kids. It is not always the most convenient stop, but I will never leave because I love walking in and knowing they are going to greet me. It is important for local businesses to capitalize on what they have. Ask their customers why they enjoy doing business with them. Chances are, it is something that will gain them new customers when others find out.

Lastly, when I have determined a station, a schedule and a message, I must manage the expectations of the client. Different advertising works in different ways. I need to help them with what to expect and reinforce that they need to give the message time to work. When you have a good product or service, you need to get the word out. People will not come if they do not know that you exist. It is all top of mind awareness. Be known before you are needed. Everyone is not in the market for your product or services all the time so stay out in front of them so they think of you first when they do need, what you offer.

Jenny Cathcart

Jenny Cathcart is a lifelong resident of the area. She graduated from MWSU with an A.S. Degree in Legal Studies and a B.S.B.A. Degree in Management with a Human Resources Emphasis. Jenny has about 20 years of sales experience, mainly in the business to business sector. She has been actively involved in the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce for several years and was even recognized as the Diplomat of the Year in 2011. She lives in St. Joseph with her husband Mark and their 2 young sons, Brody and Brett.