I recently worked with a small business owner who told me that she knew her target market. She was indeed able to describe her ideal clients in great detail, but she was not as talkative when it came to listing the needs and problems of her prospects.

The above mentioned entrepreneur participates in networking events, has posted several videos on YouTube and is familiar with most social media marketing tools.  She is also a decent speaker, active on Facebook and I can attest to her success in attaining thousands of followers on Twitter.  She seems to be doing everything right, yet she is not successful at converting prospects to customers.

In my efforts to give her some fruitful advice we analyzed her marketing plan, including her core marketing messages and marketing budget. Our discussion eventually shifted to her products.  Why couldn’t she sell seemingly good and well-packaged products? Should she blame the recession?

We came to the conclusion that her offerings and marketing messages did not have enough depth to stand out from her competitors’ messages and turn prospects into customers. In addition, her products did not offer a new solution to a real problem her target market was experiencing, nor did they meet a burning need of her ideal clients.  She did not have an edge – the hook was missing.  She could not sell sneakers to prospects who needed dress shoes.

Small business owners often fall in love with their products and services and stop thinking about their target audience and its changing needs. We tend to believe we know the audiences we serve, but we should stop and think again.