How Does Anybody with a Business to Run Do All This Customer Analysis Without Spending Tons of Time and Money?
How do you do it? You can begin to learn a lot about your customers, playing field-both current customers and potential ones-without conducting expensive market research and without wasting tons of time in focus groups. You can integrate your research into your daily conduct of business. It’s not hard.
First, keep it simple.
Start small. Talk to people you know. Talk to employees, sales people, colleagues in other companies, your family-whoever is the best representative of your customer. Find out what’s up in their world; ask about their problems, their needs, their goals. Drill in on their product experience and their issues with it.
Find a group of individual customers you can talk to. Get more out of your existing sales efforts by making sure you use them as a chance to learn. If you aren’t already, go on a few sales calls or man the phones. It’s often best to do this with the most demanding customers or prospects. As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” They will tell you the stuff you need to know. Ask tough questions; be prepared for tough answers. If they seem to be telling you only the good stuff that’s nice to hear, don’t be satisfied; ask again.
One company we work with targeted teens and found out that talking to them was a sure eye-opener. Adolescents aren’t afraid to tell you what they think is cool and what isn’t. But how about insurance agents? These guys were used to making sure they said the right thing-they didn’t want to let down their listener and chance losing a sale. Trained to be polite and agreeable, they just kept smiling. The company folks really had to push to get them to open up about the problems they had with the company’s products.