If I asked you to tell me about your typical customer, what would you say? How much of what you think you know is based on assumption and how much is only surface deep? To get at the truly meaty stuff that’s going to help you provide better products, services and grow your business, there are four things you need to know.
What keeps them up at night?
Get personal. What’s really influencing the actions and decisions of your customers? What problems are they facing that have direct impacts on their personal success? What challenges seem to elude a solution and what new obstacles are cropping up that concern them from a business standpoint, but also for their own job security?
Whose opinion counts?
Your customers aren’t making decisions in a vacuum. They are influenced from above or they’re considering the job responsibilities of others. Limiting your customer knowledge to the primary decision maker doesn’t always give you an accurate picture of the need or the opportunity. The more you can understand your customer’s unique business operations and internal network, the better equipped you are to appeal across a broad range of influencers.
How do they define success in their job?
Its one thing to understand that customer X requires the use a widget to perform his job. It’s another thing to really understand what the customer takes pride in, how he or she is evaluated, and how they want to grow in advance in their job. Then you can position your widget in a way that helps them achieve their dreams (or at the very least get a pat on the back from their supervisor.)
Where do they look for information?
You might be a dedicated subscriber to [Insert Industry Here] Weekly but the world being what it is today, there are plenty of places customers are seeking out information, and they might not be obvious to you. Taking the time learn where they go to read up on trends, or seek out like-minded professionals for advice and networking will help you uncover new opportunities find out what issues are top of mind, and intercept them at critical points in their fact finding and decision making.
If these questions sound like the first steps to building a buyer persona, you’re right. The concept of human-to-human marketing isn’t going anywhere (hey, we ALL want to be treated like the fantastic individuals we are.) B2C and B2B companies alike need to be taking the time to know their customers beyond the sales data spreadsheet.
At the very least, companies should utilize their internal resources to be connecting with customers on a human level. However there is real value to bringing in a third party who can engage in non-biased conversations with your customer network. Bringing in a market researcher skilled at conversational interviewing can create a non-threatening environment in which customers feel comfortable being candid
Author Rachel Spencer joined Access in 2007 as part of the PR team, and now serves as Director of Business Intelligence, designing studies, evaluating campaign success and analyzing critical data to inform marketing and PR initiatives on behalf of clients. Click here to learn more.