Take an example of a Distribution Company that needs a software system to expand their business for new opportunities in after-sales services. They make some inquiries, visit websites, receive emails, white papers, etc., but most of the information is about “platforms”, “services oriented architecture”, “next generation technology”, “software as a service”, product feature/functions, product brand names and other inside-out jargon, all of which are meaningless to them. The prospective buyer moves on to the next vendor to find someone who understands their needs.
Outside-in begins with customer value – i.e. the value you create for a customer when they buy your product/service/solution. The ‘customer’ is not just research, demographics and statistics about some market segment. It’s about the current needs, problems, challenges and opportunities that real people and businesses face in markets you serve. What roles these people have in companies, what they worry about, what solutions they really need and many other factors.
Customer or prospective buyers define value – it’s not your list of perceived benefits, ROI and other claims. The value is expressed in terms of how your product/service/solution creates value for customers by meeting their real needs within their context.
With this deeper understanding of what, where, who and how to provide customer value, you’ll be ready to formulate an outside-in marketing strategy with value propositions that connect with the real needs of these buyers. To make the outside-in value connection, messaging should start with value in customer terminology and context, along with specific messaging for the various roles in which customers will use your product/service/solution.
A good consequence of the outside-in approach is that you will have more definitive market segments comprised of sets of prospective buyers based on their specific needs and the value you provide. Expanding on the Distribution Company example – you may find a common trend that industrial distributors are facing a slowdown in their traditional business, but some are seeing more demand for installation and maintenance services. If you can create value by providing a solution for them to quickly establish the necessary capabilities for a services business extension, then that would define a very specific target market segment.
How to use this information to benefit your business:
* Focus on always using an outside-in marketing approach.
* Consider your messaging from the customer’s perspective.
* Just because you’re excited about some new fandangle feature in your product, doesn’t mean your customers will be.
* Don’t fall into the inside-out trap of trying sell a customer on all the technical features of a drill when all they want is something to easily make accurate holes.
* Businesses are always looking for growth opportunities. Following an outside-in marketing approach is an excellent strategy for driving growth.
Mike Frichol is founder and principal of Marketance which provides advice, guidance and tutorials for businesses to get more customers and sales with Internet Marketing. Their free weekly newsletter helps businesses get better results from marketing on the Internet.