The one fact that many businesses have not wrapped their head around is that buyers now have more power than ever. They can find the smallest and most precise details about a product with the simple touch of a button. So if you (the owner or creator of a business) do not have a good understanding of your customers, you are going to be in trouble. The marketing team will be in even worse trouble because they will have to keep tossing out new ideas and sifting through successful plans vs. unsuccessful plans.
The question is “how do you get to know your customers better?” It all comes down to taking a few steps back and looking at your business as a potential customer. In other words, you get inside the mind of your customer by completely changing your outlook.
Understanding the mind of the customer and being able to see your business from their perspective is the key to ensuring the success of your business. Here are a few steps to master this skill and become an even better business for everyone…
1. What are your customer’s needs? This might seem like a basic question but companies, especially the ones scratching their heads at the sudden drop in sales, are completely oblivious to both the question and the answers. So take some time and reflect on what your audience is trying to get accomplished, what they need, what they want, and why they would choose YOU to get what they are looking for.
2. Understand the context of your marketing message. Just think about who it appeals to and who it invites as customers. Will it encourage the target audience to support you? That is the fundamental question, but the other aspects that need to be considered are websites, experts, and the general opinion of the public. All of those will either work with you or against you.
3. What is the most important thing to your customer? This is perhaps the most important question because it gives you time to reflect on the feelings, thoughts, and various opinions of your audience.
4. What are their fears? Another issue which is ideal for reflection. If you are marketing a new toothpaste think about all reasonable concerns your customers have. (cavities, gingivitis, or yellow spots on their teeth that embarrass them)
5. What are your customer’s goals? Think about what they want and think about the steps they would take to achieve them. This is how some of the most creative and effective business products are born.
The best way to try this out is to put yourself in their shoes. As previously mentioned the toothpaste marketing tactics boil down to fears and understanding those concerns. Literally, think as if you were that person. You would likely say “I hope they don’t try to take my picture, my teeth are so yellow. Do I have to stop drinking coffee every morning? Maybe I have to brush four times a day. I don’t know! All I want is to be able to smile with confidence.” It is this type of thinking that unlocks the key to success as a marketer because the struggle is understood and the steps are taken to make that struggle a thing of the past.
6. Imagine how you are perceived. This is something that is quite normal for people. They say “will this employer think I am trustworthy” or “will he/she think I am attractive,” but doing this as a business is much more challenging because you have to anticipate the thoughts of many different groups of people who approach the situation with their unique experiences. So now you have to think like a customer and ask “is this product going to work?” Are these people trustworthy?” etc… Act accordingly to make the answers to those questions very easy to answer.
7. How is this going to be justified? This is perhaps the most important aspect that is never given enough attention. Everyone has people to answer to, whether it be a boss, spouse, family member, etc… When investing in you, they will be looking for ways to explain it to those that question them. By tossing those answers right at them, they are able to sit back and focus directly on what they want, which is when all the previous steps come into play.
8. What does the typical customer look like? As previously mentioned selling a product is about getting in the mind of the customers and understanding where they come from. A tough task that requires asking and answering hundreds of questions. However, at the end of the day, it all about pleasing the largest chunk of customers. So if 29% of your customers are over the age of 30 and only 7% of your customers are under 20, then you would want to either make your marketing diverse or cater to the larger audience. The best plan is to try to appeal to both, but eventually, every business must make a business decision and the “average customer” must be understood better than all other demographics.
9. After knowing who your “average customer” is you can begin finding new ways to help them out. More importantly, you can begin asking questions and thinking like they do. Are they risk takers that want to throw the facts to the wind and just go for it or are they fact-based people who want to carefully analyze each and every fact before acting.
10. The last question to ask is “where do these customers come from?” Do not think in terms of actual geographic location, think the places they visit, the websites they like, and the type of activities they do. By doing this, you can unlock endless possibilities for marketing and further the positive connection between you and your customers.
The more work put into understanding the customers and helping them out, the better you will be. There are always plenty of options and right when someone thinks they have the best product another person releases something even better. Keeping the customers and continuing business is all about making each and every customer happy and creating a bond. It is this type of behavior that keeps a business moving forward year-after-year despite the better and more advanced competition.