Whatever sector, niche or industry you’re in, you’re always selling something. It doesn’t have to be a physical product – those are just the easiest things to put on a shelf. If you’re running a consultancy firm, if you’re providing insurance, you’re still selling, and you need to do that well and efficiently.
The best way to sell well is to know who you’re selling to. If you know your audience, you can tune and optimise your marketing to provoke the biggest and best response. Unfortunately, to really understand who you’re selling to, you need to fight one of the most compelling fallacies of human thinking.
It’s a natural error in reasoning – a cognitive bias – to give too much weight and importance to the first piece of information you learn about a subject – this is known as anchoring. It’s a valid tactic for navigating a world awash with information, but if you’re trying to fully understand a subject, and take decisions that are going to result in successful outcomes, it’s a handicap. It’s a risk that you’ll come away from your research with the first fact about your audience fixed in your head as an immutable truth.
If there’s a significant section of your audience who fit into a particular niche – over 65s, students, parents or any of the key descriptors you can build your marketing around – you have to fight your own mental compulsion to make that the single most important thing about your whole audience. That significant section might not even be a majority of your total market, just the first significant bloc you learn about.
If you want to succeed in sales, you owe it to yourself to get past this cognitive error and find out who’s really buying your products. There’s a good case to be made for expert help: market researchers don’t just do surveys, they’re statisticians who can interpret and explain the results, helping you get at the truth through data. They can help you apply the principle of market segmentation to your results, and understand your market as a collection of groups (or segments) all with different desires and spending power, and therefore in need of different strategies.
Understanding your market as a series of different groups means you can tune your marketing to appeal to each of the most important groups, and not cut yourself off from important streams of revenue simply because of a quirk of human thinking!