Without customers, your business wouldn’t last very long. They are your source of income and the lifeblood of your operations. For people that run their own businesses, the notion of “being your own boss” is wrong. In reality, your customers and clients are your superior, paying your wages, and telling you what work should be done.
In many cases, your customers are the most important asset your business has, and with careful planning, you get your customers involved in much more than just buying your products.
Use and Involve Your Customers for Research
A business’ job is to sell products and/or services that solve the problems endured by its customers. Groceries chains solve the need for sustenance to stay alive, clothing shops solve the need for products that provide warmth, protect decency and be fashionable, and DIY stores provide us with the tools to solve problems with our homes.
Of course, these are simplistic examples, but whether their owners realise it or not, every business solves a problem.
To better serve your customers you should work with them to understand their needs and challenges. Marketers often call this their “pain points” since your solution should be designed to “ease their pain”.
By conducting research like questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, and collecting and analyzing feedback left online, you can understand what customers want, what they like about you, and their thoughts on any new ideas you have.
Once you’ve conducted and analysed your research, you can make changes to your product/service or just change your marketing.
A recent example of this can be seen in the new PokerStars “I’M IN” campaign. Released as part of a brand refresh, it is the result of “lengthy research” conducted by the company to help them understand their customers better.
They found that PokerStars customers were “adventure-seeking individuals” that looked for “fun in the everyday”. The research also showed that a community feel and a safe environment were important.to players, which the “I’M IN” campaign tries to encapsulate.
Turn Your Customers Into Ambassadors
Some businesses pay a lot of money to recruit brand ambassadors whose job it is to promote its products either online or within a target community. While companies have used this technique for years, brand ambassadors have become more prevalent in the social media age.
Sometimes though, you don’t need to pay a lot of money to have people spread good things about you. If you provide a good enough service to your customers, they’re more likely to tell their friends about you.
According to Invesp, consumers are 90% more likely to buy from a company that has been recommended to them from someone they know and trust. Word of mouth is so effective, it typically generates five times more sales than a paid-for marketing impression.
To encourage more customers to tell their friends, you can operate a referral or “tell-a-friend” scheme. AliExpress is a prominent example of this. It offers customers around $5 off their next purchase for each friend they invite to also buy through the company’s marketplace.
Online Reviews and Social Media Mentions
Selling online can make it harder for you to demonstrate your ability and expertise to potential customers. Therefore, it’s important that you can build trust with people visiting your website, searching for you on Google, or checking your social media accounts.
Online reviews and social media mentions can make a big difference in this area. Over time, reviews can help to create a picture of your business, showing that you have served customers for a long time, that you deliver a good service, and are willing to resolve issues if they occur. They can also be useful for your local marketing efforts.
You can use automated emails to follow up with customers after they’ve made a purchase. In that email, you could ask them to get in touch with you if they have any problems or to leave a review if they are satisfied.
The online clothing retailer ASOS has over 50,000 reviews on the Trustpilot, with more than 60% of customers rating it as “Excellent” or “Great”. It has achieved this by providing great customer service and regularly requesting that its customers leave reviews.