What’s it like to be your customer? You need to know your customers before you can market to them. Here’s how to get to know them better.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your customers are just like you (marketers do it all the time
). But that’s a dangerous assumption – one that could cost you lots of time and money creating a marketing strategy and customer experience that just won’t speak to your customers.
Sometimes, the best way to understand your customers is to actually become one of them
. When the team behind email marketing platform MailChimp wanted to understand their customers’ challenges, they decided to open their own eCommerce store. The goal of their What’s in Store project
wasn’t to sell products and make lots of money, but to put ourselves in our customer's shoes and see what they go through on a daily basis as online business owners.
You don’t need to open a whole new business to understand your customers – here are 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Go on a mystery shopping tour
Get out there and find out what experiences your customers are having. Visit businesses that are similar to your own. Just remember to be stealth!
If you find it challenging to find or buy certain products, so do your customers. By understanding the challenges your customers go through every time they deal with your competitors, you’ll be able to provide a customer experience that stands out. You never know, you might spot that one unmet customer need that you can satisfy.
Step 2: Conduct customer research
Research is a great way to develop empathy with customers. Some companies have entire teams and projects dedicated to customer research. Muesli brand Carman’s has launched an exclusive online research community where customers can “share thoughts and ideas together” – they call it Carman’s Kitchen Table
. The LEGO Group is another great example. When they nearly went bankrupt a decade ago, CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp made it the company’s mission to get inside the minds of its most important customers: kids
There are easy ways to gather research as a small business owner too:
Conduct a customer survey: Create an online survey using free tools like Survey Monkey to send out to your customer database.
Small group interviews: Invite a number of customers to take part in small focus groups. This is a great way to gather candid, honest feedback and find out what’s important to them.
Call your customers: Pick up the phone to customers to learn who they are, what they want, and what their experience is like with your business or others like you.
Step 3: Experiment
Let’s say you have a red flyer and a blue flyer. You aren’t sure which one your customers will respond to more, but you love the colour blue so that’s got to be the best choice, right?
The right answer is to A/B test both flyers and see which gets the biggest response. You can do the same for all sorts of marketing elements – like offers, email subject lines, calls to action, landing page designs and more. Because at the end of the day, your customers should be the only ones telling you what they like.
Walmart’s founder Sam Walton
famously said, “There is only one boss — the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Spend time getting to know your customers, and as soon as you know what they want, make it your goal to deliver.