In a post at his eponymous blog, Tom Trush tells the story of a client who asked for help after a direct-mail lead-generation campaign failed to yield a single response. His prospects, insisted the exasperated client, were different. "Every time I hear this claim my ear drums rattle," says Trush. "The truth is your prospects may have different desires related to your product or service, but the characteristics that lead to a sale are the same regardless of your target audience."

Trush examined the client's direct-mail piece and found it made the classic error of pitching services without addressing a potential customer's problems. In other words, recipients—whatever their pain points—had no incentive to respond.

To avoid this quandary, Trush says, you must know the following about your audience:

  • They're inherently skeptical. Everyone's been burned somewhere along the way and they have no intention of making the same mistake twice. You have to earn their trust.
  • They want professional guidance. "If they understood how to eliminate their problems, they would have never started searching for solutions," he says. "So don't hesitate to share a little knowledge and give detailed instructions about what steps to take next."
  • They're bombarded with marketing messages. You're not the only one trying to pique a prospect's interest—so say something they haven't already heard a thousand times.
  • They will make buying decisions when they're ready. "You can't determine how long it takes your prospects to gather information, analyze the data and pull out their wallets—that decision is based on personal comfort," he says.

The Po!nt: No matter your industry, product or service, all prospects want to know they can trust you to fix their problem in a way that no one else can.

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