Small Business Alert: Why your mental model has to change if you want to win sales

Recently I saw Matt Larson from Google ads management give a presentation at Googleplex in Mountain View.

Titled, “Why your biggest opportunities come in the smallest moments,” Matt talked about why business owners and marketers must change their mental model if they want to win over consumers and turn them into their customers, clients and patients.

While contemplating why business owners aren’t making this shift, I questioned my own clients trying to determine what stops them from making this important change in their business. Again and again, what I found was that it had to do with one of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make…

Believing that the consumers who are interested in and purchase their products or services will have the same likes, dislikes, and preferences as them.

More often than not, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your customers do not think and behave like you—even if they like your product and service as much as you do.

The problem with this thinking is that it can cloud your judgement and cause you to make errors in your marketing decisions. Let me show you what I mean.

An e-commerce client of mine refused to run re-marketing ads because he didn’t like ads following him around. (Remarketing is positioning targeted ads in front of a defined audience that had previously visited your website – as they browse elsewhere around the internet.) He believed that his consumers wouldn’t like it either and therefore wouldn’t respond well to a remarketing campaign.

However, once my team and I were able to convince him to look at the industry data which showed him that re-marketing was in fact very effective, he reconsidered. The results: The multiple points of communication contact he received from re-marketing helped him gain positive ROI and convert more customers.

This kind of thinking is now stopping others from taking advantage of the trend happening today that Larson was referring to in his speech when he talked about “the smallest moments,” mobile marketing.

As a result, many small business owners are missing the boat on this very important opportunity that could put lots of extra cash in their pockets.

Now while some don’t believe their consumers are a part of this trend, I believe others don’t fully understand the trend and why it’s happening.

To help illustrate how critical this is, I want you to think back to when websites were new. If you’ll recall, many small businesses were slow to jump on board. Small businesses didn’t believe they needed to be online. Therefore, they lost out on sales because consumers either couldn’t find them online or found their competitors online and did business with them instead.

Much like websites back in the 90’s, today the mobile platform presents a HUGE opportunity. And yet, so few small businesses are taking advantage of it. This decision to put off building a mobile-friendly site is unfortunately negatively impacting their bottom line in a big way.

Again, based on my conversations with business owners and clients, their reluctance and decisions surrounding mobile often stems from their own personal preferences and beliefs rather than what’s working and best practices.

Why mobile is important and why your mental model surrounding it must change.

1) The advertising landscape has changed. Larson points out that 50 years ago, we lived in “media scarcity”. There were only a handful of channels and a captive audience. But today you have many more choices and a variety of ways to reach your target audience. Everything from tweets and blogs to email and YouTube videos and more. You are no longer restricted to prime time as people look at advertising 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on a multitude of channels.

2) Consumer behavior has changed. Fifty years ago, if you advertised on TV during prime time you could reach 80-90% of your target audience. Today, people spend much more time on their smart phones than with any other media delivering device. In fact, according to a study by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers, the average smart phone user checks their phone 150 times a day. And in Time Magazine’s Mobility Poll, 84% of people surveyed said they couldn’t go a day without their mobile device in their hand.

3) People want immediacy and relevance. People no longer sit at home or wait until they get home to do research on their desktop computers. Because it’s easier and faster, people reach for their smart phones. They use stolen moments to do their research. They look up products on their phone to compare prices while in the aisle at the store or waiting in line. They use their phone to research where to go to dinner, to research a health problem, or read reviews about a product they are thinking of purchasing while waiting for their son to finish baseball practice or waiting for their plane at the airport. And they make purchases from their devices too, in order to check things off their to-do list during these stolen moments.

If they need something, they don’t wait until they are in front of their laptop or desktop, they pick up their phone, which is almost always at their fingertips, and search right then and there. That means when they want to do something, know something, or buy something, they want and expect immediate results and relevant information to appear on their phone.

4) People are making decisions differently. It’s important to remember that while people consume more advertising and media than ever before, with a simple swipe of the hand, people can choose to tune you out.

But what happens when people decide to tune into your brand? Larson says, “When they decide to tune into your product category, THAT’S when you need to be there. When people have the need to learn something, to go somewhere, to buy something…those are the moments you need to be present. Those are the moments that are important to you as brands.”

Google calls these moments “micro-moments”—the moments when consumers are tuning into your brand and want your help in making their decisions about what to do, where to go, and what to buy.

People are not only open to your help, but they want your help. Only they want it when they want it and on their terms. The question isn’t whether or not you should have a mobile-friendly site, but rather how can you be present and relevant during these “micro-moments” to help consumers make their buying decisions.

Larson says, “We are accustomed to apps and websites that tailor their content to our context—whether that’s our location or our identity. And as a result, we expect more than ever that you deliver relevance to us. Brands that don’t deliver immediacy and relevance—aren’t there and they don’t win.”

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