Welcome to our third #SummerScaleUp blog. This week, strategic and creative thinker, James West shares his tips to help you reach those all important new customers.

Creative business owners often get hung up on the content they are providing, the features of their product and the innovations of the service that distinguish them from other companies. They tend to rely on sales to the converted, targeting potential customers who already have an intrinsic value associated with the product they are offering. The challenge many face is when they need to broaden their customer base and sell products into unfamiliar territory.

Every customer has business or consumer needs they are hoping to be met. The problem with needs is that they are often unspoken. We’re all very good at focusing in on the features, the rational elements that differentiate one product from another – but needs are often emotion based and therefore more complex.

The art of fishing for new customers is about finding people’s problems and matching them to the results of your product. Often the value you place on your product is not the same as the value customers place. Their reasoning for buying from you may be very surprising.

Here are my three top tips on marketing through benefits:

1. Flip your focus

Marketing to new customers isn’t about shouting louder, it’s about connecting what you offer to someone’s needs. Every customer has a set of pressures that will be at the forefront of their mind – if you do the work for them and tell them how your offer provides a solution, they’ll be all ears. To get it right you need to let go of what matters to you and put yourself in their shoes, imagine your pitch from their perspective and be totally objective in your self-analysis.

2. Avoid feature fatigue

Whilst it’s fairly easy for a business to rattle off all the features involved, the problem is these are often the ‘what’ and not the ‘why’. You’re making the customer do all the work to figure out why they might need to buy your product or service. Instead, the art to finding new customers is to match their need with the benefit you are offering by showing them the results of your product.

3. Fish for a hook

Networking isn’t difficult when you realise how much everyone likes to talk if you ask good questions and genuinely listen to their responses. In the first 5 minutes you can find out a lot – why they work in a particular field, what’s giving them grief in their job, if they’ve been on holiday or, more importantly, what would need to change for them to get away for a week. Keep your mind free, there might not be a match straight away, but if you think there could be a solution make sure you draw it out in your response.

To start with you might feel like you’re writing with your other hand. Here are a few examples to get the ball rolling:

FEATURE: Award-winning creators in creating online infographic animations
FLIPPED: Reduce time wasting enquiries with a simple online infographic animation

FEATURE: Handmade greetings cards
FLIPPED: An easy gift to show someone how much they mean to you

FEATURE: Giant jellyfish installations
FLIPPED: Increase customer dwell time with our unusual shop installations

James West
James is an expert at bridging the gap between creativity and business growth. He has supported over 50 London based creative businesses, sits on several boards and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A successful business owner himself, working with clients including the Royal Opera House, The Pleasance Theatre Trust and Hoxton Hall, James understands first-hand the challenges facing today’s entrepreneurs. A specialist in theatre, events and experiential marketing, James is also well-versed in coaching a variety of early stage and growing businesses.