I was reading my girls Lilyana and Zoey a bedtime story tonight, and it made me think of a fun way to explain three of the types of potential customers for a local small business and how to advertise to them.

Let’s see if you can guess what story I was reading to my kids by the end of the article ;).

Here are the three characters:

A Donkey – He is very slow to take action and is probably not aware of your business or what you do.  Sometimes he can be a little mopey.

A Bear – He is very curious about the problem your business solves, but is pretty slow to make any decisions.  His curiosity will eventually turn into an insatiable hunger if you send enough delicious honey filled scents his way to lure him in.

A Tiger (Sometimes spelled with two g’s) – He is very energetic and is ready to take action, but is also easily distracted.  He is actively looking to solve the problem that your business solves.

What do these three characters have to do with your business?

Well, it is all about sending the right message to the right character to build the relationship with them until they become a customer.  If you send the wrong message to the wrong character, your marketing dollars will be wasted and ignored.

Who are the donkeys?

The donkeys are your potential customers that don’t know about you, don’t really know what problem your service solves, or just don’t care at this very moment because they are not in the market.  However, if you were to talk to him in a way that may slowly peak his interest you may be able to mold him thinking like the bear.

Let’s do an example:

Let’s say you are an Auto Shop Mechanic.  You would have one specific advertising message that would peak the interest of this type of customer because you know at some point they would be a potential customer but just aren’t in the market right now.  You could use a couple different advertising tools here, but let’s use a direct mail piece.

Knowing that you are most likely talking to a donkey, you would send him an article on “10 things to monitor on your vehicle to make sure it lasts.”

The goal here is not to be salesy because you know they are probably not in the market right now. You are positioning yourself a notch above your competitors through education.  You taught them something rather than trying to shove a Save $30 off you next brake job coupon in their face.

Who are the Bears?

The Bears are the customers that know they have a problem or may soon, but aren’t actively looking for a solution yet.  They just finished eating their big jug of honey so they are full, but that tummy will be growing again soon.

Let’s continue with the example above of the Auto Mechanics customer.  The next mail piece that you would send the same customer would have the goal of continuing to build the relationship with that customer because THEY AREN’T READY TO BUY YET.  If you tried to sell to them at this point, you would sound like everyone else trying to take their money.

This letter would be another value bomb that would continue to help them know, like and trust you.  An example could be a calendar with of tips and tune-up schedules for the first 100,000 miles of your car.

Who are the Tigers?

Most advertising out there is positioned with the fact that EVERYONE IS A TIGER.  That is why most advertising dollars are wasted on people that don’t care what you are offering because they are not ready to buy.  However, if you had guided your potential customer along the path from a donkey, to a bear, and now to a tiger then they probably won’t even think about calling a competitor.  They also will be willing to pay a premium for your services because you have positioned yourself as an expert by adding value, NOT SELLING TO THEM EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

Let’s carry on with the example above of an Auto Mechanic.  Most likely, you already know a dozen of different options to close the sale, but it is important to ask for it.  You now would send them an invitation to bring their car in so you can give it a 100 point inspection to make sure their car is primed and ready to last for more years to come.

Did you guess what book I read to my girls?  I bet it was the 2nd g in tiger that gave it away ;).

To get the most out of your advertising and marketing, it is critical to take your potential customer from stranger to someone that knows, likes and trusts you.  You can not do that by trying to sell every step of the way.  If you do that, they may shop around and buy from the business with the lowest price.  If there is no attempt to build value with your customer then the adage of “In the absence of value, the customer will choose the lowest price.”

One of our passions at Foundation First Media is helping local businesses come up with creative strategies very similar to the auto mechanic example.  We specialize in working with service based businesses like Realtors, Insurance Agents, Contractors, Financial Advisors, Painters, Landscapers, and much more.  If you would like to learn more about what we do please reach out to us.  We would love to help!!

If you would like to learn more about this method, I would suggest following a mentor of mine.  His name is Scott Oldford.  Check out the amazing resources he provides.  here is his website.