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

    Know Thy Customer

    Customers want a relationship with marketers where they are “nurtured, cared about and recognized,” stated an April 2008 article in Advertising Age Magazine.

    “Customers want you to know them.”

    Know Thy Customer Networking and Handshake
    Moral of the story? Know thy customer and give them what they want! This is easier said than done, but once accomplished, customer satisfaction will increase and profits will rise.
    So, how do you go about getting to know your customer?

    Observation and Data Mining. Use what you have already. What trends do you see among consumers? What products are attracting the most attention? Talk to your sales staff and find out what they have been experiencing with their customers.

    Ethnography. Take observation further and step into the lives of your customers by observing, interviewing and videotaping customers who agree to participate in your research while they are living their everyday lives. This takes place in their homes, where they work, where they play, or anywhere they would interact on a daily basis. Ethnography can lead to interesting insights into the needs and emotions of your customers.

    Individual Interviews. In-depth interviews, when performed correctly, can lead to valuable insights into the underlying attitudes, beliefs and cultural influences that motivate consumer behavior. Focus Groups. By working with a balanced, yet random, group of your customers or target customers, you can build on ideas and expand your knowledge of your customers. Reactions of people in groups versus the reactions of the individual people in that group can vary widely. Focus groups provide the opportunity to view group interaction similar to what would happen in an office or meeting setting.

    Projective Techniques. Word association, sentence completion, story completion, cartoon tests, thematic apperception tests, role playing, and third person technique attempt to hide the purpose of the research. In doing so, it encourages the respondent to project their underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes, or feelings onto an ambiguous situation.

    These and other methods of customer research (such as simple surveys and polls or customer visits) are relatively obvious and traditional, but they are also tested and true methods leading to important insight into customer needs, desires, and motivations. Implementing this knowledge can help you to successfully position your company, products, and services to more effectively serve your customers, gain new customers, and increase production, sales, demand, and profits.