How to determine customer needs

When it comes to running and maintaining a successful business, the customer is the key. Without someone who wants what you’re selling, you have no product market fit – and no money coming in.

Determining the needs of your target customer is an essential part of growing a company, and this starts with research. Now, some entrepreneurs hear the term “market research” and immediately feel completely overwhelmed.

In reality, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds…

Get to Know Your Target Market

Chances are, when you were developing your business plan you had a good idea of who would want to buy your product or service. This is generally your target market. However, this won’t provide enough information to really understand customer needs.

In a recent Forbes article, Mathew Sweezey discusses the evolution of the customer journey. Sweezey points out that instant access to information has allowed customers to make considered purchases; making some traditional marketing methods less effective.

In the age of technology, marketers need to understand the importance of getting up close and personal with customers to anticipate their needs. Optimizing the customer experience means reaching a degree of personalization that goes above and beyond cookie cutter marketing strategies.

Fortunately, marketers have also learned to use online resources to map the customer journey and better understand conversion behaviors. Some professionals believe that this data gives them enough insight to develop successful marketing strategies. However, the data doesn’t always tell the whole story.

Data is Only One Piece of the Puzzle

With the right tools, it’s possible to track every mouse click a customer makes on your and your competitor’s websites. You can see how much time they spend on

business office

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certain pages, which buttons they choose, the content they frequent, and at exactly what point in the experience they convert or leave your page.

Having access to all of this can be a huge asset in measuring and predicting customer needs. But, it’s only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

A recent Salesforce article touched on the subject, saying:

“Bits of information and cuts of data sprawled across an organization aren’t enough. If you invest in building out a 360-degree view, the answers are there. Your customers will tell you what they need and what they want.”

The key phrase there – your customers will tell you…

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is keeping their distance from customers. If you really want to know what your customer needs, try asking them.

However, as AdAge points out, this does no good if you’re asking the wrong questions. First, you need to understand the three parts of the customer journey: intention, disposition, and action.

Marketers are becoming the “tour guides” of the online world, and they need to create more than just a message – they need to create an experience. Customers need to walk away feeling like the entire process was crafted around their specific needs.

Doing this means:

  • Gathering current and historical data from your website and customer interactions
  • Looking for patterns in this data that indicate and predict customer behavior
  • Narrowing down your target audience and developing an ideal “customer persona”
  • Researching the needs, social presence, financial averages, and common pain points of this persona
  • Interviewing willing customers to better understand their behavior
  • Improving the experience based on these interactions
  • Doing it all over again…

Engage and Convert New Customers

During this process, you’ll discover how your current customers respond to different marketing strategies. This can give you a window into the interests of new customers and show you where to position marketing materials to best reach them.

And remember, a good marketing strategy never ends. It’s a process that should evolve and grow with every new customer experience.

         
 

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