Everything in your business should start with your customer's wants, needs and behaviours, and the best way to reveal these is through customer research. It is amazing how many companies try to do research without actually engaging in conversation with their customers, and purely relying on quantitative data. I do agree that quantitative data is extremely important and insightful, but it's limiting if that is all that you rely on.
Quantitative data tells you what your customers are currently doing...
Let's imagine you own a supermarket, and based on your data, it seems that your core customer is a Female, 30 year old (who, for the purposes of this example, we will call Daisy, for no reason at all other than the fact that I like the name Daisy). She lives just outside the City, spends £30 per week on shopping, usually on a Saturday morning, and her shopping basket is mostly made up of raw ingredients and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Therefore, it would be wise that on a Saturday morning, you make sure you have delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the majority of your communications are going to be about fresh food and cooking from scratch. You won't create much content around family shopping either, as it doesn't seem likely that she has a family, seeing as she is spending only £30 per week. Etc Ect. Very useful information.
However. Little did you know...
Daisy is a busy professional. She shops on a Saturday morning because that is really her only time off, and she does her shopping after her morning run. During the week, she works long hours in the City, and what she really wants to buy on a Saturday morning is easy-to-cook food for her weekday lunches. However, she ends up buying these from elsewhere as she finds you have quite limited stock of healthy options, and the ones you do have are also a little too expensive. Also, Daisy holds dinner parties every Saturday night for a small crowd of friends. She goes to a local wine store to buy her wine, as you don't have her favourite Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, you don't seem to have much choice for wine at all.
Seeing as Daisy is your core customer, if you knew the above you may introduce or expand a new line of product, you might bring easy-to-cook healthy recipes and advice into your communication, you may communicate to her at different times etc.
Above is just a small glimpse (perhaps not the best of examples, but one nonetheless) into what kind of information you can find by talking to your customers, to make their lives easier and better. Knowing your customers goals, aspirations, beliefs, trusts, challenges and where they spend their time, is key to:
> Identify problem areas
> Recognise new areas for expansion
> Target in the right way
> Target at the right time
> Define your value proposition and marketing messages
and ultimately... make well-informed decisions, and move forward.
The above is somewhat linked to my previous article, which talks about finding the "Why" to your business. Why is your customer is better off with you?
Small companies and start-ups can go about talking to their customers by sending out emails, surveys, engaging on social media, picking up the phone, or running small focus groups with a select group of people. However, usually these end up being friends and family, which isn't so insightful. It is also really important not to just learn about your current customer, but also your target customer and competitor's customer. There are some agencies out there which can connect you to the consumers you are looking to talk to (e.g. Q Research London is my family business), but if you don't have the budget, standing on street corners with a clipboard, going into offices or shopping centres, or cold calling, can get you some of the answers you may need.
The Mom Test is a wonderful book if you are just starting out and looking to learn how to gain the most authentic feedback.
Happy Monday :)