Make it all about Your Clients
Are You REALLY Listening to Your Client
Recently Constant Contact conducted a national survey of small business owners. The resulting data showed that 93 percent of small business owners are not tuned into the most important part of their business. What part is that? Their customers. The results also revealed that most of their small business owner clients perform their own marketing (95 per cent), are self-taught (64 per cent), and do not consider themselves savvy marketers.
And really, what with running their business and staying on top of their own industry, how could they be?
The result is marketing produced at the last minute, marketing when sales people come calling with a pitch, marketing initiatives created at the end of a long day, and an unfocused marketing strategy that isn’t centred on their clients.
Even so, you CAN quickly shift your marketing towards a customer-centric model. The only way you can do this successfully is with a marketing strategy that is in fact a communication strategy — one that helps you listen to your customers regularly and respond meaningfully.
Strategies to Help You Focus on Your Clients
You really don’t need access to “big data” to accomplish a more customer-centric marketing strategy — though we do recommend you get access to your industry data for other reasons. Mostly what you need is to develop the habit of talking to your clients, asking them questions and learning more about what they are looking for — and listen, listen, listen.
Set a goal to talk with (say) ten of your customers and ask them two or three useful questions about their experience with your brand. Set a deadline to complete this because you know it won’t happen otherwise.
Ask the tough questions you might be uncomfortable getting an answer to. Customer-centric communication isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need to hear and process the things that are going wrong with how your customers are experiencing your brand, before you can create a better strategy and move forward. It’s often not pleasant to hear constructive criticism, but it may help you to keep your ego out of it if you remind yourself that the hard answers are usually the ones that will do your business the most good.
After all, if the only feedback you ever get is, “You’re doing a great job,” how will you ever learn anything new from it? Be aware that many people will try not to hurt your feelings and will therefore give you answers that are unremittingly positive — even if secretly they hope they will never have anything to do with you again.
Make it very clear to them that you want to know the gaps and deficiencies and unnecessary limitations of your products or services. You want to know even where you may have entirely fallen down on the job, so that you can do a better job for them in the future.
If you’re just getting your business started, create a profile of your ideal client, then seek some of those ideal clients out and ask for their help. Almost everyone will respond positively to you if you personally ask and you give them a specific and relatively easy task to complete (a questionnaire).
Ideas for Questions You Might Ask Clients and Potential Clients
- In what scenario would you consider buying our product or service?
- What do you think you would value most about our product or service?
- If this could solve one problem and make your life easier, what would it be?
- What would you need to have/be/feel/think for this to be successful for you?
- What can be done to help alleviate what frustrates you most?
- How does this challenge get in the way of your progress?
- What would a solution to this challenge allow you to do?
- Where do you go to find answers for your challenge?
Never Stop Conversing with Your Clients
Your customer’s needs are going to evolve over time, and so is your business. Why? Because once you successfully solve a problem and/or meet a need for your client, they are free to move forward — until they meet with the next obstacle. It makes sense to anticipate their next need and build a solution for them, even before they know they will need one. That’s how your products and services will grow with your market. That’s one of the true meanings of entrepreneurship.
Are there questions you’ve asked your clients where the answer transformed how you deliver your products and services? Let us know.