Whether starting a business or trying to grow and expand your existing business, there is a great deal of research involved. The most successful business owners understand the importance of staying on top of industry trends and keeping an ear to the ground at all times. Businesses spend a great deal of time researching their competitors in order to give themselves an edge. But with all of this research, you may be missing the most important piece of the puzzle – your customer.

Why You Need to Understand Your Customers Well

It is vitally important to understand not only market trends, (ie., your customer in big groups or as a demographic) but also to know your customers on an individual level. Your customers experience your product, service, and brand as an individual, and so this is the level at which you must reach them. You need to use every opportunity available to understand your existing or potential customers.

Take a moment right now to ask yourself a question: What does your ideal customer look like? If a clear image doesn’t spring to mind immediately, you have some work to do. Or, if you say, “Everyone who has a dog is my customer,” you have some mindset change and work to do. As Seth Godin says, not everyone can be your customer.

What gives every business its competitive advantage is that it meets specific customer needs. It’s impossible to be all things to all people. Your customer needs to feel like your business is in league with them.

You may want to cast your net wide, and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. But not knowing who your customer is to each exact detail is like shooting in the dark. You will spend a great deal of money, time, and other resources without getting clear results.

If, on the other hand, you know your customer intimately, you can use your resources more effectively in order to craft the right message that resonates and perfectly meets your customers’ needs. By focusing your message to your target market, you’ll attract the right type of buyer, and not waste time with leads that you can’t nurture. By carrying out this research continuously, you’ll be able to keep meeting the needs of your market even as their needs change.

In other words, by understanding your customers at an intimate level, you can sell more and earn more profit with less effort. Your marketing will create a perfect match between you and your customers. If just launching your business, you’ll know where to start (with the customer and their needs). If expanding your business, you’ll know how to grow and stay relevant.

Getting to Know Your Customers through Research

Research isn’t guesswork. It’s done by gathering objective data about your customers through a variety of channels. Two of the best methods are surveys and interviews. Through the direct contact these methods provide, your customers will tell you what they want and expect, and a whole wealth of other information.

Learning Activity:

  1. What do you know about your ideal customer today? What information do you already have about their demographics and psychographics?
  2. What types of marketing and sales campaigns are you currently running? Who are they targeted at?
  3. When was the last time you surveyed or interviewed your customers?