How can we know what our customers really need? There are so many ways of uncovering the mysteries behind this question that you could write a book (or a series of books) about your findings. And when you actually find out what they need, it is too late. Someone else has already produced something that meets your customers’ needs, too!
So, what do you do? Answer: predict. And how on earth do you do that? There are millions of ways to be a step ahead of your customers, but I’m going to go through only the simplest means here. These are actually the ones that can easily get forgotten! Basic stuff for your basic customers.
A couple of great ”5-step plans” that I found on Business Insider and by Paul Schoemaker had very similar ideas on the subject. I’ll tell you only the best (in my opinion as a marketing student with fresh and otherwise awesome ideas) parts from both. I think you always get the best results by comparing your ideas and different angles to different points of views considering the problem you are trying to solve. If you think you found the answer by looking at one article on the internet, well… You couldn’t be more wrong. Always look for many different answers to create the best solution, kind of a patchwork, for you.
First and foremost
You need to step in your customer’s shoes. Look at your business and what it has to offer, from the outside for once. Maybe make a list of what you are doing right and what might need a little tinkering. Really concentrate on your customer’s point of view.
The next thing that I think is overlooked too easily, is creating effective feedback mechanisms. After stepping out of your customers shoes and coming back to the inner circle, it is important to listen to the actual customers. Social media is a great, and very up-to-date, way of being close to the customers. On social media sites the customers can get in touch with you, but remember, it’s always going to be through thick and thin. Don’t get agitated if someone says something negative about you on the internet, learn from it instead!
Points for consideration
Know your enemy. Get to know the competition in your market, and the other option for you. What are they doing, how they are doing it, and when they are doing it. How can you be better than your rivals? Keep up with the news and, as they say, keep the enemies close to you…
After you have done all this, you have to remember to take care of the existing customers. They are your most important source of information, opinions and feedback. Try to create a ”fan base” for your company, as e.g. Apple has done. Nothing is more important for your company’s image than what your customers are telling about you and your ways to operate. Word-of-mouth can have huge impact on your company. Remember that in all you do.
Last but foremost
Last but not least: anticipate. By all the means above, you should be able to predict your customers’ future needs (and motives) and how to act accordingly to achieve success in the area. I hope this post will evoke some questions and opinions in you, the reader, and that you speak your mind in the comment section below!