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Your Customers Have Access to More Information Than Ever Before – Here’s What to Do

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Your Customers Have Access to More Information Than Ever Before – Here’s What to Do

Since 2010 we’ve been in the age of the customer. This is not because we’ve put them up on a pedestal (you know that old catchcry of ‘customer is king’) but rather because customers are better informed and better equipped to find out the answers before they make any kind of purchasing decision.

Google calls it the ‘zero moment of truth’, that moment in between the stimulus around a particular need or desire and before that need is satisfied with a purchasing decision. It refers to the research that customers now undertake and it applies to just about everything, from the smallest purchase (‘what type of bandages work best underwater?’) to larger decisions like buying a house or car.

How do businesses, and Small Businesses in particular, cope with this need to provide the type of information that customers need before they can decide what to buy? The best way is to better understand who your customers are and what type of information will help move them from cold, never having heard of your business or solution, to willing to open their wallet and part with money for what you’re offering.

Below are some tips for getting closer to your customers so you can work out how to best solve their problems:

1. Ask the right questions.

Asking open ended questions like ‘what is your #1 single biggest marketing challenge right now?’ and ask them to be as specific as possible.

2. Ask at the right time.

Perfect time to ask is when people have just paid for something or committed to something, e.g. Kikki K has done this in the past, using each post-purchase interaction to ask a question and store the answer in a central database.

3. Keeping a list of responses in one spot.

Use those responses to create content, to fuel a FAQ page for your website, as a guide for product creation.

4. Always adopt a beta approach to developing new collateral and products when first launching.

Don’t think you have to get it perfect from the beginning but rather know that it will be better if it’s an iterative approach based on customer feedback.

5. Be an expert in your customer’s problems.

What keeps them awake at night? What frustrates them? Who are your ideal customers?

By getting a better understanding of who your customers are, you’ll get better insights into what problems they have and how you can solve them. Get attached to customers you like dealing with rather than the products you’ve traditionally supplied them then you’ll be able to adapt your offering over time to suit rather than becoming attached to meeting their needs in a particular way.

Being able to solve your customers’ problems is one thing, being able to communicate that effectively is the second part of the challenge. However, understanding what they want and value provides valuable information that will make connecting with them significantly easier.

There is more change likely to hit in the next 20 years than there has been in the last 200 years making it difficult to predict exactly what will be needed. Your ability to innovate and prepare for the future is based on how well you understand your customers so start getting closer to them now.

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“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"



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Showing 7 comments
  • Rosemary
    Reply

    It would be marvelous if small businesses took your advice. Just had an experience (for the umpteenth time) where a business expects me to wait at home for them to come to fix something they sold to me – all day! Not even a time-slot where they might turn up. Talk about not checking what the customer needs or wants.
    The open ended question about what is needed is such a powerful one. And for heavens sake, why not ask it. And answer the need.

    • Jill
      Reply

      Thanks for your feedback Rosemary. Sometimes I think companies don’t ask because they’re worried they’ll get negative feedback that will be uncomfortable to hear. But the smart companies will listen and take feedback constructively and ask how they can do better.

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    Reply

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  • Amanda Fisher
    Reply

    Great article Jill. Businesses too often provide/sell what they think the customer wants and not what they actually want.

    • Jill
      Reply

      Thanks Amanda. I think part of the problem is that many business people, including small business owners, feel like they have to have all the answers, otherwise why would a customer come to them? So there’s a line between being an expert and being open to change that is a challenging path to take. Listening is a good first step.

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