I fondly recall the senior executives of a company I once worked for boldly claiming that they knew their customers! These executives were routinely jetting around the country to attend PRCA™, NASCAR®, and NHRA® events and at these events, they “talked with hundreds” of customers. After all, proof of performance was 88% market share in the company’s primary market segment, as was being recognized as one of the most profitable blue chip companies by Wall Street analysts.
What’s telling here is that this company went on to hire a professional market researcher to help the executives truly understand its customers and its market.
Do you really know your customers? Ask these questions of yourself and your team, and find out if there’s a difference between how you view the relationship, and how they view it.
Who are your customers? Can you identify them in terms of demographics, attitudes, behaviors, lifestyles?
Have you defined your ideal customer? What are the characteristics of the perfect customer? How many of your actual customers fit the description?
What is your company’s relationship with your customers? How do you see it? How would they see it?
What are your customers’ perceptions of your company? Are they satisfied, are they loyal? Do they refer you? Do you both see problems to be solved or opportunities to attack?
Do you have a handle on the financial value of your customers? What is the lifetime value of your customers? Do they generate a lot of revenue, but also a lot of expense? How has that been trending since you started the relationship?
Like any relationship, both parties have to work at it, but as the service provider, you have to work much smarter and harder than the customer, at least in today’s competitive market.
Marketing research is the process which helps your company know its customers, and allows your firm to build mutually beneficial, long-term relationships. How does a small or medium-sized business get started? This blog post is the first in a series that will answer that question and others. Look for tips on ways to begin market research and integrate the findings into your company’s marketing strategies in my next blog post.