3 Things You Must Always Know About Your Customers
Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to expand beyond what your existing business has already achieved, keeping tabs on your customers and their expectations can have a huge impact on your company’s success.
Let’s look beyond the basics. After you’ve created your product and identified your demographics, what should your company really know about its customers? And how can you use this information to develop a solid business-development strategy, while creating a reliable relationship with your clientele?
“Creating a customer-centric business-development strategy is more important than a self-centered one,” says Elise Bouchner, an adviser at Excelerant, a a leadership development and management consulting firm based on Lafayette. “Most of us sell from our own perspective, especially if we are the owner or operator and don’t have a sales team, but businesses really benefit when they clearly identify what they sell and to whom.”
Bouchner says there are three key ingredients that both the early-stage startups and industry veterans should always know about their clientele.
What Do Your Best Customers Have in Common?
A business needs to do more than just identify which customers will want to buy its products or services. Do you know who your most profitable customers are? As a generalization based on the Pareto principle, 20 percent of customers in most businesses will account for 80 percent of the profit margin — so there’s huge value in knowing who your 20 percent are.
Replacing assumptions with data such as customer demographics, buying behavior, preferences, personal details and individual circumstances is vital to a business. Customer bases are always changing, and only an ongoing data-collection strategy can accurately track that evolution.
What Is Their Impression of Your Brand and Product?
Every impression counts, even when it’s associated with a B2B company. Consumers are bombarded with thousands of brand impressions each day, so figuring out how your customers view yours can significantly improve your chances of capturing and holding their attention.
“What customers are looking for, whether it’s a B2C or a B2B, is a consistency about your culture,” Bouchner says.
Asking simple questions such as “Do my customers want to buy a product from someone they have a relationship with or is it a commodity, like toilet paper, and they just want an easy purchase?” can help to create a business model that will build a consistent identity.
Take a look at your company website. How much information on your home page is vital and how much is an unnecessary distraction from the real material? Put that value in the right context — delivered in the right channel at the right time — and that’s when engagement begins.
Every impression you make matters, whether it’s an ad on a social media site or a booth at a conference, but the ones that add value are what influence and retain customers.
Which of Your Competitors Are They Working With, and Why?
It’s essential to know which rival companies your customers are gravitating toward, because any business your competitors receive is potentially business you’re losing.
Consider: What is it about your rival’s pitch and product that continues to win over your prospects? It might be as simple as their emails are more personalized or their content is more practical for the customer base. Or maybe it’s that you’re failing to offer as much value for the money with your product.
If you don't understand how your customers decide to buy, you'll never be able to profit from any opportunities that could grow your client base. Knowing who your competitors are and what they offer can help you make your products, services and marketing stand out.