Market Sophistication and Marketing StrategiesJul 12, 2023
Market Sophistication 101: Tailoring Your Marketing Strategies for Success
If you want to grow your business, you need to attract more clients. And if you want to do that, you need your message to reach the right audience: the customers you want who will benefit from your products and services.
So how can you make sure your marketing strategy reaches your target audience? It’s all about tailoring your message and sending it in the right direction. The first step is knowing where those potential customers reside in the market. And the key to that is understanding market sophistication.
What is market sophistication?
It sounds like a complicated term, but “market sophistication” simply refers to the collective knowledge, awareness, and familiarity your target audience has with the products or services you offer. Market sophistication exists on a spectrum: from a low level of understanding to a high level of understanding. If you know how much your ideal customer knows about the nature of your offers, you can tailor your messaging to them.
For example, let’s say you offer business strategy services. Your message about how to start an LLC isn’t going to interest seasoned business owners who have been running their companies for decades. Likewise, your book about exit strategies isn’t going to draw in people who are just starting their businesses.
Once you know the level of market sophistication that your target audience has, you can create offers and design a customized messaging strategy to reach them effectively.
Let’s start by looking at the lower end of the market sophistication spectrum. These are the people who are unaware that they have a problem. They’re not looking for a solution — they don’t know that they need one!
We’ll look at the business strategy/coaching services industry again. A problem-unaware client would be someone who has all the symptoms of burnout but thinks it’s normal. Maybe they believe all business owners feel like they do. Or they were told that it’s “expected” for an entrepreneur.
It will be hard to get this audience to pay for business coaching because they don’t even realize they need it! If you want to reach this group, you’d need to first help them realize there is a problem, and then get them to agree that your solution is the right one. That’s a long-term strategy that will likely have a small return on investment.
Now let’s move up to the next level of market sophistication: “problem-aware” clients. These are people who recognize there’s a problem but have no idea what a potential solution would be.
In the burnt-out business owner example, a problem-aware client would recognize that the way they feel isn’t normal. They’re miserable, and they know they can’t keep operating this way forever. But while they recognize the problem, they aren’t sure why it exists. They don’t know the underlying causes of burnout, and they don’t have any information about possible solutions.
Reaching this target audience is all about speaking to them at their level and establishing your credibility as someone who understands and can fix their problem. They know there’s a problem — you need to show them there’s a solution.
Let’s look at another example. If you’re a personal trainer trying to reach problem-aware clients, you could focus your message on basic health and wellness education. Don’t tell potential clients how you can help them reach a new deadlift personal record. Instead, talk to them about how establishing a gym routine can help them feel more confident, avoid injuries, and counteract some of the side effects of aging.
At the highest end of the market sophistication spectrum, there are “solution-aware” clients. These clients understand the problem they have and are aware there are solutions out there. They may even know a lot about the various products and services that are available to them — your job is to convince them that your solution is best.
In the business coaching example, a solution-aware client would understand that they are burnt out and need to change the way they run their business. They’re aware that there are many solutions that could help them: 1:1 coaching, mastermind groups, self-paced business management courses, and so on.
You don’t need to spend any of your marketing resources convincing this type of client that they need the type of services you provide. They know they need a solution that’s in the realm of your offers. Your message needs to focus on why they should choose you out of all the other solutions on the market.
Using the personal trainer example, if you’re trying to reach solution-aware clients, you don’t need to convince them to start strength training — you need to tell them why they should train with you! This is where you can talk about helping them set new personal records, compete in their first lifting competition, or develop a specialized routine (e.g., returning to strength training postpartum).
Understanding your clients better
Before you can create a comprehensive marketing strategy and a cohesive message, you need to understand your target audience. How? There are many options. You could perform market research or poll your audience to see what they’re thinking and looking for. Listen to what your potential customers are saying about what they want or need.
Another approach is to look at your competitors’ messaging. How are they trying to reach their target audiences? You can see what’s working — and maybe what’s not!
The goal isn’t to steal their strategy or copy their materials. It’s to get a better understanding of the market so you know how to distinguish your brand. Maybe that means using a similar message to your competitors — or maybe it means coming from a different angle.
Tailor your message to your target audience
Once you understand your target audience, you can tailor your message to convince them that you have the best solution. Create content using language they understand, and use those resources to establish yourself as an authority in your space.
When you customize your marketing strategy to your target audience, you’ll have better results. So figure out who your ideal clients are and what their level of market sophistication is, and then develop a strategy to reach them. Build your credibility by demonstrating your knowledge, and show them exactly why your solution is the best one for them.
Get advice and help from industry experts
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