Know Thy Customer: On a Budget

Know Thy Customer on a Budget Comic

In the previous post, “Know Thy Customer,” I blogged about ways to do market research to get to know your customers better. Doing this helps marketers to give customers what they want, increase sales, and reach customer-driven goals. Many of the tips I provided are not within reach of businesses that work with smaller marketing budgets, so here is a post aimed at providing ways to “know thy customer” on a budget.Know Thy Customer on a Budget Comic

Talk to your best customers. This does not mean putting hours of planning into designing survey questions and sitting down with customers for half hour in-depth interviews (although if you want to put the time and money into that, it can’t hurt and would provide great insights into your customers). This is simply an informal chat about your customers needs and wants, with regard to your company. Ask them what you can do better to leave them more satisfied. Keep it simple. Keep it short.
Ask customers what they do and where they go in their spare time. This may seem like small talk to you, and to them – which can be good for building rapport with your customers – but you are actually finding out a lot about these customers based on their interests. What do your customers’ hobbies tell you about them? If your customer is interested in snowboarding, it could mean that they are interested in adventure and taking risks. If they visit social networking sites a lot, they could be interested in technology and meeting new people. Look at these interests and their implications and see if they can be applied to your business, marketing, and/or products and services.

Know Thy Customer on a Budget SurveyConduct surveys. This can be done in a number of ways. Leave surveys on the bottom of sales receipts for customers to send back to you. E-mail all of your customers asking them for their feedback. Place polls or short surveys in your e-newsletters. Create a feedback form to link to the pages on your Website. Think about key modes of communication between you and your customer and utilize these modes as possible survey locations.

Check out competitor Websites. Their customers are likely very similar to your customers. What do your competitors do that tailors to these customers? Do they have a blog or open forum? What do the comments indicate about customer interests? What kind of speech do your competitors use to connect with customers? What are they doing that you are not?
Analyze the data you already have. What is your best selling product? What is your worst selling product? Are some products starting to sell better? Are some products being ordered less frequently? Which ones? This is all data that you have in-house from your order records. You can probably discover much more than this simply by looking at the data you already have! If you have certain products or services that sell better than others, you can look into creating related, complimentary products or services or you could examine the way you market that product and why those tactics are effective.

If you don’t have the money or the time to spend on consumer research, any of these options can provide significant insight into customers that can be applied to your business principles. Don’t let your budget deter you from this important business angle. Getting to know your customers will pay off big in the end. It will build loyalty to your business and can grow your profits. With these simple, cost-effective marketing tips, you have the tools to effectively Know Thy Customer.
Know Thy Customer on a Budget Survey

    Direct Mail Marketing vs. E-Mail Marketing

    When attempting to promote products for your company, you, as a marketer, must decide which marketing strategy would be the best bet for your budget.  Especially in the current struggling economy, marketers need to figure out what will be the most successful and cost-effective option.

    direct mail marketing postcards and flyersSending out direct mail could be a very expensive option, especially in comparison to e-mail marketing.  All of the printing costs and shipping costs add up.  The question you must ask yourself is “Is it worth it?”  Does the return on investment outweigh the initial costs?  Also, the waste generated from direct mail does not make it the most environmentally-friendly option.  Although you can have your direct mail pieces printed on recycled paper with eco-friendly UV inks or renewable soy-based inks, there is no guarantee that the recipient will actually recycle the mail when they are finished.  There are benefits to direct  mail marketing campaigns.  They are able to gather a higher number of leads, compared to other marketing techniques.  They add a personal touch to your marketing campaign, and the recipients are much more likely to see a flyer or postcard, compared to an e-mail that can be deleted without even opening it.  A custom design CD/DVD mailer could attract more attention and the recipient might spend a longer amount of time looking at it.

    e-mail marketingE-mail marketing strategies are considerably cheaper than direct mail marketing campaigns, but they may not have as high of a return.  In fact, most e-mail service providers filter out junk or spam mail from being sent to the user’s inbox, and sometimes legitimate e-mail marketing subscriptions accidentally get flagged as spam mail.  There is a very small chance that the recipient will actually open and read the e-mail, even if they subscribed to the e-mail advertisements.  But if it does work, it can get out to a large number of people at little or no cost.

    Both direct mail marketing strategies and e-mail marketing strategies have their advantages and disadvantages.  A campaign that has a mix of the two strategies could be very successful.  Direct mail pieces that are sent out should at least have a website on them that recipients could easily visit.  If there is no way that consumers could respond from the ease of their own home, without having to mail something back out, the response rate may not be very high.  This, in turn with e-mail marketing could increase your rate of response and online sales.