How to Get Found in the Consumer-Driven Marketplace

A few weeks ago, my 32-year-old Maytag washer died. In all those years, it had only needed one repair, to replace a belt. But this time, it refused to spin dry any clothes. Given that no parts are readily available for such an old machine and that we could do better with an energy-efficient washer, we decided it was time to say thanks for all those loads of laundry and replace it.

Unlike my first shopping trip for a washer years ago, when I talked to sales people at a reputable store to get the best deal for the best machine in stock, this time, of course, I went online.

Market Research Starts at Home
First stop, Consumer Reports for buying advice and reviews. Then, once I’d narrowed down my choice—a front-loading, water-conserving, Energy-Star-rated Maytag in our price range—I googled stores in the vicinity that carried that model.

I narrowed my choice further to check two stores that had good reputations for price and customer service, got in the car and went shopping. The first store didn’t have my Maytag, but tried to sell me a Whirlpool that was similar. I checked that machine online to find reviews, and it was not as well-rated as my original choice, even though both are made by the same company.

So I went to the second store and found my machine for an excellent price and bought it. Our new washer is living up to its billing, and if we’re lucky, will last several decades, like its predecessor.

In a Consumer-Driven Marketplace, Anticipate Your Customer’s Needs
My experience is but one small example of how we shop today. Ours is a consumer-driven marketplace. When you decide to make a purchase—especially to invest in a major appliance or other expensive item—chances are you, like I, reach for your computer.

You have a particular purchase in mind that meets your personal specifications. You narrow your choices and then read consumer ratings and customer reviews. You search for the best dealer with the best price. Only then do you buy, either online or in person.

To be Found Online, Solve Your Customer’s Problem
For the seller, it’s crucial to understand the psychology of this marketplace. You need to understand your target consumer, the problem she’s trying to solve and how she gets her information.

And you need to be sure that your website explains how your product or service provides the answer to that problem, that your website can be found via keyword searches relevant to her query, and that you have additional information and reviews that establish your authority as a good business to deal with.

Whether you’re selling washers or widgets, the marketing bottom line is this: It’s not about persuading your customer that your product is great. It’s all about understanding your customer and meeting her needs.




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