“There will always, one can assume, be the need for some selling. But the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker
When you can get inside your customer’s head and heart, you can understand what it is they truly want or need. The reason any customer buys a product or service is because he/she wants or needs it – it solves a problem or desire they have. Truly knowing your customer’s problems and desires – getting inside their head and heart – is incredibly valuable information.
The reason this information is valuable, is because it informs your company on how to best serve your customers: How to create the right product/service for them, make the product/service better, how to word your marketing copy, and more.
What’s one reason product launches and businesses fail? One reason is because the business doesn’t truly understand their target audience: who their target customer is, and what his/her problems and desires are. If you don’t know your customers, and what they truly want and/or need, you’re not going to be able to make products/services for them that they will buy and use.
What if you throw a party and nobody shows up? In business, it happens all the time.” – Josh Kaufman
How do you get inside your customer’s head and heart, and understand their problems and desires? There are two ways to do this:
1. Become your customer
The first way to understand your customers is to become your customer.
For example: I used to work for a swimwear & pool equipment company. When I started swimming myself, I began to understand the problems, challenges, and desires our fitness swimmer customer segment had in a whole new way. In other words, I ‘put myself in their shoes’, which allowed me to understand things from their perspective: what kind of gear was best, what factors mattered when purchasing swimwear and equipment, what type of online content I wanted to read about, etc.
Use your company’s product/service, engage in the activities & forums your customers engage in, read the reviews of other similar products/services, and go through your company’s shopping/checkout experience. Becoming your customer and ‘putting yourself in their shoes’ will allow you to understand your customers better. Not all companies may be able to do this, but if yours can, it will surely provide good insights.
2. Talk to your customers
The second way to understand your customers is to talk to your customers.
Ideally, you want to become your customer and talk to your customer, as this will give you greater understanding of the needs and wants they have. But if you can’t do number one above, make sure that you talk to customers (and that you actually listen to what they are saying).
Here are some ways to do this:
- In person: If you have a physical store, this should be easy to do. Strike up a conversation with your customers and get their feedback directly.
- On the phone: If your business talks to customers on the phone (sales, customer support, etc.), you can easily ask your customers a few insightful questions.
- Surveys: Apps like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and Wufoo make this incredibly easy (and free) to do. Surveys are a great way to get feedback from customers, and you can easily include them on your website.
- Social media: One of the best uses of social media is research: to ask questions, listen, and eaves drop on what other people are saying publicly about your company, your competitors, and what they’re looking for in general. Social media is one of the biggest ways people talk online – make sure you are listening.
- Email: Email your list and ask for some quick feedback in exchange for a gift (or ask without offering a gift).
- Contact forms: Having a contact form on your website allows customers to easily send questions and comments to you. For example, if you were a cosmetic packaging company, you could add a “How did you hear about us?” field, and a message field, to your contact form. This would allow you to understand how customers are hearing about your business and collect questions/comments/feedback, too.
- Become a Google Trusted Store: If you are an e-commerce company with high monthly sales volume, this is a must. When customers buy from you, they can easily leave reviews and rating about their experience with your company / website (which you can read).
Wonder what your customer really wants? Ask. Don’t tell.” – Lisa Stone (co-founder and CEO of BlogHer)
In addition to understanding your customer’s problems and desires, you should also know this fundamental information about your customers:
- Gender: Male or female? Both?
- Purchase behavior: How often do customers purchases these products/services?
- Buyer Personas: Who is the buyer? Are there multiple decision makers? What are they looking for when purchasing X?
- Age: under 21? 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or older?
- Demographic: What part of the world do they live? Affluent, middle class, or lower-income?
- Interests: What are they interested in? Any hobbies? Passions? Common activities?
- Online Communities: What blogs and online forums do they read and participate in?
Knowing this fundamental information about your customers will greatly improve your company’s marketing efforts. You will understand your customers well, and be able to serve them better because you know their problems and desires.
What customer information has helped your business? Would you add anything else to the lists above? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.