Anticipating Questions Before They’re Asked

I was up at the register ordering my favorite soup at Panera today and I happened to look at the calorie counts on the menu. “330-990 Calories??? What makes the big difference?”, I asked the cashier. Based on the answer to the question I would either order the smaller bowl (and spend less money) or I would just remove some of the other side items (maybe it was the baguette?). The problem was, the first cashier didn’t know (which is fine) but when she asked the second cashier and the answer came back as “The bowl is 990 and the cup is 330”. I was shocked and immediately downgraded my order.

Then the manager walked by.

Just out of curiosity, before my order was completed, I asked her about the calorie jump. Turns out the 990 calorie soup was in a bread bowl. Totally made sense.

I tell you this story not because I want to rave about the soup at Panera – but because it brings up an important point for marketing – there are times when you need to use marketing to clearly answer questions that your customers may have but may not be ready (or know how) to ask.

Think about the last time you may have been in a store and a store employee asked you if you had any questions. If you were at the store for something specific and couldn’t find it, maybe your question would immediately come to mind but most people would just answer that inquiry with a “no”. Some of the “nos” may be due to the customer just killing time in the store. Other times there are plenty of un-asked and therefore unanswered questions – you just don’t know what they are because you’re not in anyone else’s head but your own.

So how do you use marketing to anticipate and answer those un-asked questions?

  1. Know Your Customers Well – All successful, effective marketing comes after the hard work of building a foundation. When you’ve done the work needed to build your Buyer Personas you will know their pain points – and you will know what questions and doubts they may have about whether or not your products or services could alleviate them.
  2. Communicate Clearly – Words matter – both the content of the words and the amount of them on a page. Be specific with your customers, but don’t take up so much of their time they can’t remember what they asked in the first place. Again, with well-developed Buyer Personas you will know how much extra time your customers have, the tone of content they respond to, etc.
  3. Use Imagery  – Images are powerful things. They can tell a thousand-word story with one look. You can also use imagery such as Infographics, Charts and Graphs and more. For example, a video to walk a customer through “Top 5 Questions Our Dealership Gets Every Year” is a great way to not only answer a potential customer’s question, but will also give you the added benefit of creating your brand’s personality before the customer even gets to your dealership.

Building a successful business means covering all of the bases. One of the biggest bases that most companies miss is in the overall training of their frontline employees and the empowerment that comes along with allowing them to help customers in the way they KNOW will give them the best experience. They know the questions that customers ask because they’re the ones that give them the answers – make sure they know the correct ones.