Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Not That Hard

To figure out how to become more valuable to your customers. You have to ask. This is what I do in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and what Pat McGraw does in Baltimore.

Here's Pat:

You Don’t Really Know Your Customers

Posted: 09 Feb 2011 11:00 AM PST

Blind Reflection by Fran Ulloa

Forget the customer satisfaction survey – you know, the one that tells you that 96% of our customers really like us.

They don’t tell you anything.

Why do they buy from you? Are you their primary source for the products and services you offer? Or are you one of many that they turn to when they have a need?

What customers consider you a primary choice and spend 100% of their budget with your business? Why do they rely on you so heavily?

And why don’t others act the same? Why do they only spend a fraction of their budget with your business? More importantly, how can you motivate them to spend more with you?

One of my first questions for potential employers and clients is about their target audience and customer base. And the typical answer focuses on a demographic/firmographic response.

Our audience is small companies with under 100 employees and $100M in revenue. Or our audience is people between the age of 35 to 50.

Great. That narrows it down. And it really helps with messaging and offers.

Our best offer was a discount. When we lower our price, we see more buyers.

And how many would have bought from you without the discount? And of the first-time buyers that came running when you dropped your price, how many will come back again in the next 90-180 days and make another purchase at full price?

Market research is the bastard stepchild for most businesses. It’s under-funded and the first to go when budget cuts start happening.

Pity. Market research should be ingrained in your business. You don’t need to spend a fortune either. You just need to sit down and think hard about what you need to know in order to improve business. Then you can go out, ask questions and listen. You can learn a lot when you listen, read and ask.

Why do people buy your products and services? What do you offer that they value? What could you offer that they need and can’t find? The answers will help you identify ways to improve services and differentiate your business.

Want an example? Recently I spoke with the customers (prospective, current and former) of a client and learned that they would love payment plans. That’s right – the price was fine. The product was fantastic. But the competition offered monthly payment plans and my client didn’t so the competition was capturing more business.

The cost of offering the payment plan? Minimal. The impact on the business? Triple-digit growth.

How well do you know your customers? And what will you do to gain a deeper understanding so your business can grow?

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