If you’re looking to start or grow your business, there’s one person you need to speak with right away.
And this person is not a startup guru. Nor are they a marketing whiz.
Rather, this person is one of your target customers…someone that you’re trying to convince to buy your product or service now or in the future.
In fact, one of my favorite quotes is Jay Abraham’s “your customers are marketing geniuses; they know exactly what they want.” This quote is so amazingly true. Your current and potential customers possess a goldmine of data that can help you. They know what their greatest challenges are. They know what they like and don’t like about your competitors. And they know the media they read/watch/view and the most effective ways to reach them.
Sure, you have to extract this data from them. But that’s much easier to do that then taking a guess at what that data is.
Importantly, your customers will generally have a lower IQ than you. In fact Scott Shane (author, entrepreneur, and angel investor who I had the pleasure of interviewing last year) uncovered several studies indicating that entrepreneurs have a higher IQ than the general public.
And even when you’re selling to highly educated consumers or businesses, your knowledge of your product and market is generally light years ahead of theirs.
Why does this matter? Because in both your surveys and marketing to your customers, you generally have to “dumb down” your messaging quite a bit. Talk in terms of the customers’ needs and benefits, and not the technical jargon that they won’t understand.
So the moral is this: survey your customers and survey them often. Surveys don’t need to be long drawn-out processes. Sure I love statistically significant numerical surveys (I started my career with a very large market research firm) but even striking up an informal conversation with a current or prospective customer could provide invaluable information.
Henry Ford once said that if he surveyed customers, they would have replied that they wanted a faster horse. He’s right…if he surveyed them using the wrong techniques. If he simply spoke with them more colloquially, they probably would have told him that they would love to visit Aunt Sally more often, but she’s so far away that it takes too long to get to her (hence the need for more convenient and higher speed transportation).
It’s actually a bit ironic that today we live in a world of highly advanced communications (e.g., email, text messages, cell phone calls, Twitter/Facebook), but most of us ignore the most important business communications of all: learning what our customers want and need, and using that information to build the right products/services and marketing and sales programs that work.
So please add “speak to customers” to this week’s To Do list, and make doing this an ongoing habit.
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