People often say that it is vital in business to know your audience. They suggest that you cannot even begin to succeed without knowing your audience. Well this could well be true, but what does it really mean? Is it a phrase that has been used so much that it is difficult to work out why it will help you? Well that may be the way it seems. Yet understanding the people who use your business or service can be so useful. It can help you hone everything you do from the colors you use to what you sell. It can inform plenty of areas in your business.
It can be the key to success, but this means actually getting to know your customers properly. That does not mean making friends with them all, but rather getting to know what they like. There are a wide variety of ways to get under the skin of your customers and potential customers. This will allow you to give them what they want. Or at least to make your offerings more attractive to them. By following a few useful tips, you can get the information you need. You can then use this to make some small changes to get your business working better for customers.
Who is Your Audience
Think about who uses your business. Who used it yesterday, in the last week and in the last month? Do you have a core of regulars who come back again and again or is it one-offs? You might have a mix of both, it depends on your business. For example, a pharmacy might have a bunch of regular customers that come often to get their meds. Equally, they might have another group who come to get meds when they don’t feel well. They might have another group who drop in for diapers. One business can have many different groups of customers, so try do identify each one.
On a separate note, this is who uses your business right now. This is completely different from who you want to use your business. You might have a diner and your biggest customer group might be kids after school. Or it might be the dinner crowd of generally single people. You might actually want your main group to be lunchtime soccer moms or older people. You want to get to know both audiences. Know the ones who frequent now, and get to know those you want to use your business. Do not be tempted to ignore current customers as they are spending money right now. However, you can build up potential customers too. Doing both together can give your business a boost.
It sounds a little retro, but doing some market research can help you get to know your audience. You can do this in so many different ways. You could ask each customer that buys something to fill in a short survey. You may want to ask those who don’t buy something too. This could be a quick online survey that takes 1-2 minutes to fill out. Offer a prize, perhaps a coupon, for all or for a winner. Yes, it will cost a little bit, but it will be a vital source of information. Use a site such as Survey Monkey that is well-known, secure and reliable. You can run free surveys on their site if you limit the number of questions.
You can physically speak to people and ask them direct questions. Some customers may not be too keen on this, but if you are pleasant and polite they are likely to answer. It could be one question per customer each day and could be things like:
- We are thinking of starting to sell X, would you be interested in that?
- If you could change one thing about our store what would it be?
- What did you come in for today and did we have it?
- What are your favorite colors?
- Is there something in the store you would like to buy but it is too expensive?
- How often do you come to this store and why?
- Why did you choose us today over a different store?
It can be anything that will help you and is not too intrusive. You could ask them if they would be willing to fill out a longer survey for a discount coupon. As long as you are open and forthcoming, some customers will help. Ask about everything from product choice to their wants and needs. Just do not overburden them with questions or they may get fed up.
Look at Your Competitors
What stops new people coming to your store or to use your service? Well if they need that item or service from someone, they must have gone to a competitor. This may be a bigger and more established company than yours or it might not. They can be a single store or national chain with hundreds of stores. What makes your potential customers choose them instead? If you can start to work that out, then you have the chance to do something about it. Firstly, identify who they are. There might be one or there might be 20. That’s OK but identify each one in direct competition with you.
Take a look at what they do. If they have a physical store and so do you, how does it compare? Do they have things that you do not have? Is it extra stock, more services, friendlier staff, better prices, longer opening hours? Pinpoint exactly what is different. Of course, you do not have to change everything or anything about your store. You just need to be aware of what is different and how they appeal to your potential audience. Something makes them different to you- what is it?
Evaluate their brand and their ‘voice’ to customers and how it compares to yours. This does not mean you have to change everything, but it will help you evaluate what they do. Is their tone fun, jokey, friendly – how does yours compare? Is it formal and professional? Most of all, do the words you use on your posters and leaflets convey what you want to convey? Is it long and wordy or short and sweet? Think about what techniques the other businesses use. Is there anything you can adopt to support your business.
Identify Your Ideal Customer
We have mentioned the difference between customers you would like in your store and those you have. They might even be the same. That is fine, but consider who your ideal customer is. This might be a mix of both. Give this person a backstory, a history. Get them a proper story. What do you want their age to be, what job, what are they into? Then think of ways to appeal to this customer. What would they want from your business? Are you able to offer them some of these things at all? Market to them as an individual and this may allow you to pick up new customers. If they are of the type you would like, this could be a big boost to your business. Appealing to them could give you a positive new focus and invigorate your business.
Got to Keep the Customer Satisfied
As we have already mentioned, keeping your current customer satisfied is truly important to. By knowing more about your current customer, you will know how to do this. Be wary as some customers come to you exactly because of everything you are. You have a tool shop and they like your range of tools. They like the music you play and the slow pace of things. Others would appreciate some enhancements and that might make them visit you more. It is about knowing your current audience and meeting their needs too.
Keeping a current customer is a lot easier than getting a new customer. Working to get a new customer can take such a lot of resource in both time and money. Occasionally giving a bonus or something additional to current customers can keep them loyal. This works out a lot cheaper overall. Try to balance between keeping current customers happy and making small changes to attract new ones. This all goes back to knowing what your audience wants. If you have not spent the time getting to know what they want, you could end up pleasing no one.
Learn and Keep Learning
Learn about your customers, both potential and current. This information is highly valuable, and it might change over time. Therefore, learn and keep making opportunities to learn in different ways. Get a full picture and try to get to know your clients on a personal level for the personal touch. Most people like to receive a warm greeting at their favorite store or with their prefered tradespeople. Make sure that their regular purchases are always in the store to keep them happy. Do what you can to learn about your customers and their needs. If you can begin to anticipate their needs, then this will bring additional success for you.
Focus on Social Media
Many people are on social media. Perhaps you have clients that are less well connected, but on the whole, lots of types of people are. Keep your own social media presence up to date. Post regularly on your business Facebook page and Twitter page. This is not just to engage your customers, but it is to allow you to get to know them better. Monitor who likes your posts. See which ones get plenty of ‘likes’ or thumbs up. This will help you work out what your audience with an online presence actually like. Can they be bothered to click on your post? If so, then it is offering them something attractive. They are posts your customers or potential customers like and you can do more of these.
If there are posts that do not get much appreciation then they are not so good. You will learn over time what does and does not appeal to your customers. This will help you in your store or internet shop too. Know your audience and give them more of what they like and less of what they do not. You can additionally ask questions to gather a wide range of opinions on forums. There are still small forums on the internet for niche topics and everyone will have an opinion. These may not be supremely helpful, but they might give you a few snippets of information.
You can ask questions on bigger forums like Quora and Reddit too. There are a wide range of people there. Of course, some are more helpful and knowledgeable than others. Some are going to be experts in your area potentially. Others will be those people who have an opinion on everything but little experience. Assume you will only get a little information from these. Bear this in mind and it could be useful for you. You can even look at customer reviews of your products or services generally. These can give you some fantastic soundbites to use in your marketing materials. Make use of whatever might be useful to you and ignore the rest or it can get overwhelming.
Use Your Knowledge
When you have learned a lot about your audience you need to pool this together. Use it specifically and almost entirely to influence them. Think of it this way, you want them to use your products or services. Knowing your audience better is simply a method for you to develop this. We can break this down into three key concepts:
- Show them you understand their problem and you can help
- Challenge and support their goals
- Fulfil their desires
Even if you are just selling burgers, you are making one of the above happen. Selling gym equipment, fitting restroom toilets, providing cleaning services, running a motel. Whatever it is, it meets one or more of the above. Truly buy into one of these motivations and make sure your customers understand your link to this.
By knowing your audience, this is the very best way to give them what they want. Of course, if you do this then you get something too. You get what you wanted and will succeed. This is likely to be down to these three things. A high interaction from your customers, or from new customers or both. Additionally you have happier customers who are more satisfied with what you offer. Therefore, they are more likely to be loyal and stay with you in the future. This is the case even if something else that is good comes along. They would need to see a big benefit over what you are offering before they go elsewhere. Higher sales may well come too. As you diversify your product range to meet the needs you know your customers have, they may buy more.
Don’t Do It All
You are going to find out about a lot of different individual customers and all their wants and needs. You might find out that Gina comes in twice a week and loves purple. Don might only come in once a month but spends quite a lot and loves fishing. Katie is an occasional customer but has recommended you to lots of people. Steve pops by most days but buys very little. That does not mean you should paint your store purple with fishing motifs. Nor does it mean Katie should get a discount coupon and Steve should not. Be considerate and consistent about what you plan to do.
Take into account all the information and use it to inform your marketing plan. You might use it to run sales promotions or to give your store a mini-refurb. You might use it to add depth to your website and extra functions. You might decide to stock some additional products. Whatever you decide to do, do it for your best interests. In the end it is your business. Yes you are highly affected by your audience but you do not have to please everybody all of the time. Make your information work for you and that will be a positive approach. Do not get tied up in knots in the detail.
Know your audience and make them feel that you are the one that understands. Make them trust you to be the one that helps. Answer their needs. This will not only help your business but will truly help your customers too. This is the answer to their needs and by meeting their needs you will give them something unique. Your newly found knowledge of your audience can give you a lot of power. More than anything though, have a good quality product. Be worth the trust that the customer gives to you. In the end, your business is going to speak for itself and a lot of that comes top down. Be a great business owner who cares about customers and a great boss. Work out from there and it is hard to go wrong.