In the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice that tells him, “If you build it, they will come.” After many adventures involving metaphysics and baseball, Ray plows down the corn crop on his Iowa farm to build a baseball field, literally in the middle of nowhere. The Black Sox of a bygone era do come to play on his field (visible to only believers), but that doesn’t pay the mortgage. His neighbors and even relatives think he is crazy for destroying most of his crop, but he doesn’t look so foolish for obeying the voice when the prediction of his friend Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) comes true:
People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door, innocent as children, longing for the past…. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball…. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
It makes a great Hollywood movie, but in real life, “building it” is no guarantee that anybody will actually “come.” Even if you “build a better mousetrap,” you’ve still got to build a business to effectively market and sell it.
An essential key to marketing that is often talked about but less-often practiced is the importance of defining what your prospective customers and clients actually want and need. Ultimately, a successful business is not about you and what you do, but it’s about being a contribution to your customers. It’s about giving them what they want, meeting their needs, and serving those who buy your products, programs and services.
How do you know what your prospects and clients want and need? You could hypothesize all day long, study trends, examine the competition, and analyze data (all of which can be informative). You can even do what Ray Kinsella did and rely on your intuition (also important, but by no means infallible). But the best way to know what your clients want and need is to simply to ask them. It’s not only the simplest way, but it’s essential.
Follow these tips to gain a greater understanding of your clients… and greater success for you: [Read more...]