So, I have an important question…do you actually know who your customers are?
Or, do you just “have an idea” of who you think they are?
Many companies find themselves scratching their heads over why marketing campaigns and efforts aren’t working the way “they should.” But maybe it’s not the marketing that’s letting you down? Maybe the mechanics and the systems are a well oiled machine — working just as they should — but they’re just not being pointed in the right direction. If this is happening to you, it means that you have the wrong targets, and that can be directly traced back to not understanding the customer.
Here’s another question: What role does your customer have when your company sits down for marketing/sales meetings?
For most business leaders, the answer is a quizzical look followed by some version of, “What do you mean? Of course our customers don’t come to our internal marketing meetings…”
But in a way, that’s odd considering that the entire sales and marketing operation exists, essentially, to match products and services with customers’ wants, needs, and problems.
Understanding customers and ensuring that their needs are represented in all marketing activities is essential.
Here are a couple of ways you can change your outlook to better accommodate this:
Closing the gap in your research
Doing surveys and looking at numbers and statistics can be helpful in general, but just doing that alone won’t give you a good picture of who your customers are and why they’re buying your product or service. Narrowing down your customer base purely with quantitative findings is like a bass fisherman throwing a net in the water where there’s known to be a lot of fish and then being disappointed when they wind up with grouper, minnows or even trash as part of their haul. It’s important to have a more well rounded approach to data and research when it comes to understanding your customer base.
Now, add in some qualitative research, conversations with the bass (work with me here) and maybe you can narrow down certain waterways they prefer and why the fishing net may actually scare them off instead of it being something they are willing to interact with. By talking with them directly (again, bear with me for the sake of this example) you have a better understanding of the bass itself as it relates to other fish, and what could make them easier to catch.
Obviously, our customers are not fish that we are trying to negotiate into a net, but understanding the qualities of our offering that will make them more inclined to buy from us is more than just smart, it’s an insurance policy against failure when we approach our marketing.
Mirrors vs. Windows
Oftentimes companies view their customer base as mirror versions of themselves. The sellers of a product or service think that their customers will be like them and their product will appeal to them in the same ways that motivated them to create the product or service in the first place.
This is simply not true. People can have a desire or need for your product or service, and it is often for different reasons than you think. But you won’t know that if you only see it from your perspective. Viewing your customer from your perspective narrows your target audience and limits your potential for closed sales.
Instead of looking in a mirror for insight about your marketplace, you should look at your customers through a window.
Observe their needs and meet them where they are. Back to our bass fish. Once every fisherman has done both their quantitative and qualitative research and found the best spots for bass, there will be several fishermen competing for the same catch. So what makes the fish go to one line vs. another? If you could talk to the bass you might find out what appeals to them about a lure; what makes them feel comfortable, intrigued, or willing to bite? You do that by going beyond choosing equipment you personally think is pretty or most appealing, and finding out what actually matters to them.
It’s the old adage, give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. Blind luck at catching closed sales (despite poor positioning) will keep your company going today, but understanding your customer base will ensure your company’s success/company life well into the future.