Who is your ideal client? A man? A woman? Someone who is 35, or someone who is 55? Which clubs or associations does he or she belong to, if any? Have you taken the time to reallyget to know you customer?

Whoa, you say, slow down. That's a lot of questions. Well, yes. But you need to know the answers to even more of them when it comes to identifying that ideal person for your services or products.

Now, look at your marketing materials — your brochures, your website, even your media kit. Are they all about you, or all about your customer? If you're like most companies out there, everything is probably all about you. A commodity supplier is someone who believes that the merit of his or her product is all that's needed to close a sale. "Why wouldn't everyone want this incredible widget?!" is the bread and butter of the marketing message, and that's the end of it. You, however, are no mere commodity supplier; you are a reliable resource that offers real solutions to real problems. In order for your clients to be able to identify the solutions you offer them, you need to first identify their problems that you solve. It's all about framing.

Take another peek at your company's website. Say you specialize in client relationship management. Is the main key word for your website "client relationship management?" Ouch. While everyone in your industry knows exactly what you're talking about and understands the merit of CRM and a good CRM system, the general public will respond to that term with a blank stare. A CEO of a company that is struggling with declining sales isn't going to know to Google "client relationship management." Chances are, they're turning to Google and advisers for more information about how to deal with increasing customer growth and the like. Have you positioned yourself in the market in such a way that that CEO would find you as a solution (CRM system) to his or her problem (declining sales)?

Especially in the era of social media, there are plenty of seminars and literature out there that discuss the importance of engaging your customer and taking part in the conversation; however, the concept expands beyond the realm of the Twitterverse and Facebook. All of your marketing needs to engage the customer, and that starts with knowing the perspective of the customer. Your customer is not an expert in your field, so why are you sprinkling a bunch of industry jargon in your brochure? It's not impressive; it's confusing. If you want to build a trusting relationship with someone, you need to speak the same language.

Here’s a tip to get you started: imagine a word-of-mouth scenario in which a happy customer tells his or her neighbor about your company. How would that conversation go? What would that customer say? That is exactly what you want your content in your marketing materials to convey. It can still be all about you, but from a perspective that is all about them and how you much you can help them, whether it’s satisfying family appetites at dinnertime or simplifying an accounting system.