Small business customers don’t all speak the same language

small business customers need to hear what your trying to say in their language

If you don’t know who your prospects (or clients) are, it’s hard to craft an effective message (or strategy) that is compelling. It’s not usually practical to customize each message (although there are ways to automate this simply when you have a name). There are, however, some easy ways to segment your small business customers (or your list of interested buyers) with messages that are appropriate to their interests and styles.

There are a number of ways you can customize what you say.

Face-to-face, style is important. One-on-one it’s fairly easy to pick up on cues your companion is presenting. Asking questions first and providing answers (preferably not pitches) later is a good approach for determining what resonates with a particular individual. Some want just the facts. Others are looking for deeper explanations. Some want to establish an emotional connection. Others are more concerned with what others are saying. Listen to the body language and be flexible.

small business customers need to hear what your trying to say in their language
Photo credit: Nanette Levin

Niche strategies also provide good ways to speak to different audiences, with distinctive messages that are appealing. Print is a great vehicle for this, whether you’re providing editorial content (that would be articles, not an op-ed page submission) for a trade pub or considering advertising opportunities with a highly targeted vehicle (such as a playbill provided by an orchestra or theatre to patrons), you can craft copy designed to appeal to the specific (emotional) issues of an audience that can be fairly easily defined.

Public speaking is a great way to get out in a way that makes you personable to every audience you meet, provided you’re willing to do some homework. If you get familiar with who you will be talking to ahead of time (either by talking to the organizers, attending a pre-event reception or getting on the internet and doing some digging) you’ll be a bigger star (and more sought after provider) than any big-name persona who doesn’t.

Interestingly, one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen was Bill Bradley (he was running for President of the United States at the time). This guy was so personable, humble and prepared, I was awestruck. This was an event at a local university with about 5000 attendees comprised primarily of students, alumni and staff. Not your typical massive, star-studded audience. He took the time (unlike most of the other big-name speakers at this four-day event) to uncover some facts about the college and the accomplishments of those connected with it to incorporate into his speech. Wow! How important that made every person in the audience feel. I wrote a bit about it in this blog post.

I found this short video below hysterical (it’s 2 minutes and 29 seconds – worth the watch). My homes have welcomed both dogs and cats over the years. So, I could identify with every lampoon. What I’ve also realized, though, is people who find cats the perfect pet tend to see the world very differently than dog aficionados. It’s something to think about.


So, if you still think it’s not important to consider how you’re communicating may influence a particular audience, maybe your small business customers would be better off going elsewhere.

Formula approaches, template messages, pat answers and robotic procedures don’t work well if your aim is create a product or service people shout about, particularly if you’re small and relatively unknown.

With today’s increased focus on personal connections (an interesting development in the age of online addictions), it’s important to be real. That means connecting with prospects and customers as individuals (which can also be groups of individuals) in a way that makes them feel like you’re talking to them.

It’s not hard, but it does require some creative thinking. Why not give it a shot? You might be amazed how many more people get excited telling others about your understanding and responsive solutions.

6 responses to “Small business customers don’t all speak the same language”

  1. Thank you so much for the Sunday morning laugh! I LOVE that video, because I absolutely have both of these friends!

    It’s also worth noting that sometimes you need to decide whether you want your customers to be “cats” or “dogs,” craft your message to reach the ones you want to work with, and not worry about whether you reach the others. If the message reaches them, it’s ok, otherwise, they may not be the right customers for you.

  2. I am a writer by trade, and I use multiple pen-names to clearly mark out the different genres and styles that I write in. Some of my readers will never consider reading some of the stuff that I write–therefore, it is best that there is a clear difference that the material will not be to their liking.

  3. That makes a lot of sense, Morgan. I’ve never used a pen name but certainly do have a lot of different voices. Often writing in a way that’s most comfortable for the ideal reader is the best approach.

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