The purpose of a business is to create customers. Your customers define your business; if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.
Your customers give you the sustainable advantage and the opportunity for ongoing improvement, so listen to your customers, hear what they say; they have a vested interest in the success of your business.
Go out and talk to your customers, ask them questions, find out what makes them tick and where they have needs and problems desperate for solutions.
The following FIVE KEY Questions will take you a long way in developing customers.
1. Am I addressing the pain points of my customer?
Is your product or service solving their problems? To discover this, engage with your customer. If you understand their pain points you will be able to create a business with products/services, which will directly fit needs; the value of which will directly intersect with real markets and sustain your competitive advantage.
Often forgotten is that what you think is a “cool“ product does not automatically grab a customer; especially if it does not address their real need or want!
2. Am I building one-time customers or repeat customers?
Does your business focus on a one-time success, or repeat customers? This is important to ask, as the approach is most often very different.
How do I acquire one-time customers? How do I market with this focus in mind? How do I acquire repeat customers, gain their loyalty, and create the momentum of a sustainable business? Is it always easier to sell to existing customers?
3. Are my customers B2B or B2C?
Are you selling your product to other businesses or directly to the consumer? How should your marketing approach be different? It’s important to understand this difference.
How do you determine which business to target and sell to? Do you always head to the largest and most successful, or are sometimes those companies in niche markets more accessible and lucrative?
Understanding consumers whether high-end luxury or mass market, takes a totally different spin to dealing with a business.
4. How will I give added value beyond what my competitors give?
How do I analyze the value of my competitors’ product, and how can I give added value? The best way to illustrate the importance of this question is with my “pizza” example.
There are several other pizza businesses in your neighborhood (competitors); how do you add value over and above what they give? Think: 10 Free toppings! Delivery in less than 10 minutes or your money back!
Ask your customer what they need/want, and find out how it will provide greater value for them. Determine if they can afford, and will pay your price. Great products that no-one will pay for; wrong recipe.
5. Am I defining the proper demographic of my customer?
Who is my ideal customer? This involves research to understand their lifestyle, daily habits, where and if they hang out online, and much more……
The data you gather on the demographic of your customer can help in creating, refining or adapting your product or service to the precise needs of your customer. That data is key in determining how and where to reach them. You can’t create a valid marketing plan without this information.
Summary: Customer Development is an ongoing activity, not just something you do when starting a company or business. A continuing dialog with your customers will keep you in the know, as to why, how, and when markets and customers change. This will enable you to react and adapt your products/services before your market outgrows you, not after the fact.