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If You Build It, Will They Come?

Friday night is movie night in my house and every now and again, I actually get to choose the movie. Last week I chose “Field of Dreams”. Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella as a farmer in Iowa who lives with his wife and daughter. In the opening scene, he explains how he had a troubled relationship with his father, a devoted baseball fan. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ve probably seen the clip of Ray walking through his cornfield when he hears a voice whispering, “If you build it, he will come.” He sees a vision of a baseball diamond in his cornfield, and he builds it. This classic 80’s movie ends with streams of cars driving to his baseball “field of dreams” which help him save his farm. Unfortunately, this happy ending doesn’t often play out in real life.

You can have the best idea, technology, product, or experience but your customers aren’t going to magically start using it unless:

  1. They know it exists
  2. They know how to use it
  3. They understand why they need to use it
  4. They feel it brings them value

If your customers don’t understand why it will make their life better, they have no motivation to change their current behavior. This means that in addition to building the best idea, technology, product, or experience, you also have to clearly communicate the above 4 points to your customers to convince them they need to buy it. This may seem simple, but you’d be wrong. Few organizations are are able to truly understand the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) from a customer’s perspective.

The solution is simple – just ask. Ask your customers what is important to them and why they care. Do a simple focus group, a survey, or make it part of your customer service team’s script. Listen to their answers. Ask more in-depth questions. Nothing makes a customer feel more valued than being asked to describe what they need in order to make their business succeed and keep their customers happy.

In the age of immediate gratification, it is important to keep your message short and simple. Tell your customers what you’re offering, why you’re offering it, how it can help them, and how they can get it – quickly. It is also important to think about how and when your message you will reach your customer. I bet that if you asked five of your co-workers how they like to receive information, they are going to have different answers. And don’t forget, your customers might need to see the message multiple times in a couple of different ways because they may miss it or not be ready to think about it the first time.

Finally, you need to ask yourself, how do you know if your approach is working? Set yourself some goals in ninety day increments. Every 3 months, assess your plans to see how you are progressing. Tweak along the way. Repeat the feedback loop. Remember “if you build it, they will come” is a classic line from a great movie, not a way to drive demand or usage for your next great idea, technology, product, or experience.

Article By Colleen Ciak, Director of Marketing at Billtrust

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