What to Do When Consumers Don’t Realize They Want What You Have

Matt Ulmer
Matt Ulmer VP of Operations & Client Relations

Search Marketing AdviceDo you provide a service that customers are actively seeking?

Take a moment to truly think about your answer. Are you filling an immediate need of your customers, or is what you’re offering really a better way for them to do something they’re already doing?

The vast majority of businesses fall into that latter category. And for this reason, it’s up to you to convince them that what you’re offering is better than what they already have. But how do you reach someone who isn’t looking?

Figure out what they are looking for

Maybe you offer a service that is an easier or more effective or cheaper (or all three) process than what your target audience currently uses. But they’re already familiar with their process, they’re already using it — they aren’t actively seeking a new process. You have to make them realize they can save time and money and get better results. You have to go to them.

Consider the Luxottica Group. This company owns eyewear stores like Lenscrafters and Sunglass Hut and manufactures glasses from brands like Ray Ban, Oakley, and Prada. They have the unenviable task of selling expensive luxury products alongside cheaper alternatives. But how can they educate their market on why they’re a better choice? No one Googles, “Why should I spend more money for Ray Bans instead of buying a pair of sunglasses from the $10 rack at CVS?”

But you know what people do Google? “Hot trends for the summer” and “cool looks for this season.” And in the resulting articles for those searches, consumers learned that cheaper sunglasses can actually harm their eyes by blocking sunlight, thereby opening their irises, but not blocking UV rays, thereby damaging those opened irises.

And then Luxottica moved their Sunglass Huts out of their store spaces and into kiosks in mall aisles, where shoppers were more likely to wander by and notice a pair of cool looking shades with full-on polarized UV protection. And just like that, Sunglass Hut’s sales increased 11 percent last year, selling a luxury item in a bad economy. And just think: Your offering is way better than overpriced designer sunglasses!

Bring your message to them

You may not sell a product in a mall, but the same principle applies. Use the power of the Internet to figure out what your target market is actively looking for, and then get your message in front of them.

Let’s say for sake of discussion that you’re a medical company that offers a malaria vaccination. You could write search engine optimized articles on safety tips for traveling to Asia, and highlight the importance of proper vaccinations. You could provide bloggers and journalists with interesting statistics on the number of travelers who get malaria, or the most common ways to contract the disease. You could follow up with information on all the reasons that travelers don’t get properly vaccinated — is it too expensive, or requires too many injections, or has to be done too far ahead of time? Good thing your vaccination is cheap, needs only one injection, and can be administered a week before travel!

Do you see how you could apply this concept to your business? Figure out what your audience is interested in, and add your messaging to the existing conversation.

And then, get in front of them. Nothing sells better than sales people. Maybe instead of malaria vaccinations you sell accounting software. Your customers aren’t searching for new software, they’ve already spent years learning their current system. But that was before your sales staff came through the doors, explaining how you’ll shave hours off their workload and save them money in the process. Now, suddenly, maybe they’ll consider a change. It’s not a kiosk in the mall, but it’s pretty close.

If you are like most companies, you sell a service that consumers aren’t actively searching for. That would be too easy, anyway. But if you figure out what they are searching for and reach them there with great messaging, your sales efforts will be almost as easy as if they came looking for you.

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