Having a product or a service that is in demand is the bare essentials of what you need to make a successful business. However, it’s not all you need. Many business owners can be surprised to find that their business isn’t doing as well as hoped even with all that market research in their favor. In a lot of these cases, all that’s needed is finding what really appeals to the customers. In this article, we’re going to focus on those aspects and how you can use them.
Know your audience
The first major step into creating an approach that’s customer focused is understanding who your customers are. Knowing your audience in detail. Without doing adequate research on who you’re trying to reach, the idea of a customer is a vague thing that you can’t prepare for. A lot of this can be done using the data from the customers you already have. From looking beyond just what they purchase. Look at the demographics they fit, their channel-preference, their household composition. Find out more about the everyday lives of the people that you want to appeal to. When you better understand their lifestyles, you will better understand what you can offer to make the lifestyle just a bit better.
Know your niche
Similarly, you need to know exactly what it is you offer. Not just your products and services and the gap in the market they inhabit. You need to define your niche down to the most unique elements of your company. Particularly in relation to your competition. The points below offer a more in-depth look at what unique advantages you could have to offer. Keep them in mind and compare them to what’s unique about your company compared to the competition. Make a unique selling point of them to give yourself a competitive edge. People often need to be convinced why your business is the correct choice over your competitors. You need to have the right answer to offer them. Otherwise, they’re more likely to go with the option they already know.
Regardless of what aspects you find work in favor of your company, you need customers to know them. You need to form them into part of the company narrative, the story that people receive to understand what you offer them. A quality, consistent brand identity is how you communicate that story. It shapes what you say about your services and how you say them. It unifies itself with a visual design scheme that echoes through your site, your logo and everything else your company produces. It’s how people will recognize your company and what it is you have to offer them. If you want people to see value in your business, the brand is how you communicate that.
However, your branding isn’t something that stands on its own. Your business has to have the values that appeal to customers to support that brand. To inform it and inform your customers. One of the values that every company should (but doesn’t) adopt is a comprehensive approach to customer service. A devotion to making sure the user experience of your company, whether in person, on the phone or online, is as positive for them as possible. A lot of businesses focus so much on trying to get customers, that they neglect the ones they already keep. A business with a focus on customer services ensures that they are always on call to answer when needed. As well as to make sure that the customer’s experience was satisfactory after the purchase.
Keeping your customers
As we hinted, the service that you provide after the customer has paid and received what they paid for should be part of your business. If you’re racing to always appeal to new customers, you’re missing the ones you already appeal to. Redefine your services to include how you keep the customers on your side. Some companies will do this by forwarding them exclusive deals. Others will do it by offering an easy to use loyalty system to those who plan on returning. As well as offering great services, you can also do this by using the power of numbers. In particular, the numbers of people who use and return to your services.
Indeed, numbers can be very convincing if they’re used the right way. But you need to be offering the right numbers up. For example, using positive social proof instead of negative. Don’t focus on the people who haven’t converted to your side yet. Give them the numbers of those who have. But maintain that number as more than just a statistic. People like to be a part of something, so build that something up as a community centered around your business. The businesses with the best community get social with it, nowadays. The internet has made that easier than ever. Don’t just use channels of communication to send messages their way. Get involved in the conversation and get talking. Ask questions to get them talking, too.
If you want people to get ‘on side’ with your business, you need to really be on their side. This includes making it a policy to be one-hundred percent honest with the public. Nowadays, the message of marketers is often disregarded as just that. People know when they’re being sold to. If your strategies are honest and you refrain from misleading messaging, you will get a better result. Even better, you can use the honesty of those who are already your customers. Word-of-mouth and testimonials can go alot further as far as credibility in the customer’s eyes are concerned. If you have satisfied customers, capitalize on them. A lot of them will be glad to share their experiences with you.
It’s not just product satisfaction and a community that people care about, however. If you want your product to be something that people really support, then having a cause behind it is just one of the ways you can do that. One of the fastest rising examples of a good cause is by making your business and your products more environmentally sustainable. For example, look at this story of Hampton Creek in the LA Times. A company that started to make egg free mayonnaise that was less carbon reliant than the average. After initial difficulties, soon their competitors began to follow in their footsteps. This narrative has gone the same way for industries making the switch to more sustainable methods all over. People vote with their wallets and are consistently voting for companies with real ethics.
This goes for more than just those whose values are environmentally based, as well. The Fairtrade movement has proven that people care just as much for the fairness towards societies at large. Enough to often pay more than they would for products that don’t have the Fairtrade logo on their products. Social responsibility not only offers your customers another reason to support you, either. It also makes for a company culture that can make your workplace and your employees some of the best to work in. Even if it’s only in the small scale by getting involved with local communities and charities. People are a lot more likely to trust and buy from companies that show some responsibility.
Now for another point that’s more about appealing directly to the customer. We’re going to talk about the aesthetic of your business. Not just the branding or the design on the products that you’re offering. But the premises, as well. In retail and the food service industries, curb appeal and design is a huge part of making a satisfactory customer experience. But this goes for those businesses set in offices, as well. You want people to see that your company is professional and well organized. A strong aesthetic can be a part of communicating that. Regardless of what kind of business you have, interior design can help build prestige in the eyes of customers and staff alike.
What needs to support every single point above, however, is the quality of what it is you offer. If you’re not doing the best to improve your product and your business at every step, the customer will know. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. So never stop reiterating on what you’re doing, even if it is a success. Always pursue improvement and innovation in your business. Show when you’ve done quality work by demonstrating it and taking it to trade shows or other venues. Sell your product by selling the quality that goes into it. Without having the proof that your product is worth buying, none of the other appealing steps above will do you much good.
The customer-driven approach to business is the only one that works in the long-run. Without understanding them and what they want from you, you are effectively blinding yourself. We hope the points above help you better the approach that works for your business.