Understand Your Customer to Better Apply Your Marketing Efforts

One of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem, in marketing is the lack of understanding businesses have about who their customers are.  They THINK they know their customers, but they don’t really know them.  Does that sound like you?  Do you know your customers or only think you do?

Know Your Customers

You have to know two things about people to identify who your customers are.  First, you have to know who is interested in your product. This includes which demographics your product or service appeals to and what personality and behavioral traits identify potential customers.

Second, you have to know who is willing to buy your product or pay for your service.  Many people may be interested, but only those able to afford it will buy what you are selling.  This can be as much mental as financial.  If someone is not willing to spend money on a certain product, you will not gain them as customers no matter how much you market to them.

This also includes knowing where your customers are located.  In the online world, that means where they hang out.  Do they spend time on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest?  What about particular forums?  To reach your customers, you have to go where they are.

Solve Their Problem

Once you know who your customers are, ask yourself “Are you solving a problem for them?”  You have to know this in order to be able to build a marketing strategy that will reach them.  Do you understand their problem?  Can you define a problem even when your customers haven’t fully acknowledge the existing of their problem.

In addition, the problem must be important enough to be solved.  If it isn’t, you likely won’t make enough money to stay in business.  Why? Because in a tight economy, people only spend money on the things they consider important. If you can do this, you will be in business for many years to come.

Once you determine that you have an answer to a problem your customers want solved and that you have a large enough customer base with this issue, you have to find a way to let them know you have the resolution.  Furthermore, you must continue to monitor your customers to make sure they don’t change or to alter your products or services to meet those changes.

Why would your customers needs change?  Life causes changes.  Your customers will get older and their wants and needs, as well as their financial situation may change.  Your product or service will have to change to continue to meet their needs.  If you do not adapt, your customers will go somewhere else. Their expectations may change and a base model may no longer satisfy them; instead they look for more features because they can afford better. I read some statistic somewhere that I can’t recall that the average repeat business that the average small business have from any given customer is 6-8x in the lifetime of the customer.  The average number of years that a customer will do business with a business is about 3-4 years. If you can find a way to increase those numbers, wouldn’t  you stay in business longer and be more profitably?  If you start thinking longer terms, you will have no choice but to focus on servicing your customers needs instead of  let’s say going in for the short term kill.

Your competitions will also change and offer new products and services.  Your top-rated product may fall to second place or just become obsolete unless you alter it, add new features or provide better options.

Once you do the research on your customer, you cannot stop there.  You have to ask them if you’re meeting their needs.  And not just once, but over and over to ensure that you are not falling behind. Send emails; invite them to fill out surveys to let you know how you are doing or give them a call. Understanding your customer is not a one time event or something you can check-off your list. Its an ongoing campaign that needs to be participated and sustained by everyone in your organization.

It takes some effort and can increase the cost of marketing to do the research and to  truly know your customer base, but it is the only way a company can be successful and stay in business in today’s online world.  If you want to thrive and grow, you must know your customers even better than they themselves.

By: Shirley Tan

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