The question all Entrepreneurs and business owners need to ask themselves is: do you actually KNOW what influences YOUR customers buying decisions?
Marketing research and my experience as a marketing consultant suggests that many business owners focus on the operational and financial aspects of their business and sometimes neglect to spend an equal amount of time actually understanding their customers needs, requirements and most importantly what influences their purchasing decisions.
Key questions managers, owners and Entrepreneurs need to ask themselves, are:
- What are your customers personality traits? Are they introverted or extroverted? Are they pessimists or realists, are they logical or creative? are they independent or do they need to verify their opinions through other people? are they risk takers or do they stay within the status quo? The point being that if you truly understand your customers, you will be able to adapt your products and services according to THEIR wants and needs. Equally you can adapt your marketing communications style according to your customers wants and desires.
- In essence what are your customers goals, challenges, values and fears? It is a good idea to do some market research on your customers to establish their goals, challenges, values and fears. If you are new to business, seek out studies, case studies and other market research already carried out. Sometimes you just have to ask people. In any case, keep a solid record of these, cross reference and see if there is a theme amongst your customers or prospective customers. You will have to act a little like a detective in this instance and it may take some time, thought and dedication, however this exercise will help you to provide the best experience for your customers, resulting in referrals, increased up sells, as a result of your giving your customers what they truly need and want.
- What’s important to your customers and what’s driving the changes they may seek? In answering this question you will understand the basic drivers, needs and wants of your customers, that inner drive that forces people to move towards the changes they seek. For example a customer may want to lose weight or look slimmer and will potentially buy a specific pair of branded runners such as Nike, to help them “Just do it’. In this instance a customer may buy into the ethos of the brand, in their efforts to make changes in their own life. In other words they identify with the brand and believe that their Nike Runners can help them to effect change in their lives.
- What’s stopping or speeding your customers need to change? As we all know, human beings are complex and as such customers may have an overwhelming need to change something or do something and yet at the same time may have debilitating fears that may stop them. For example, a customer may want to skydive, however their fear of heights may stop them from achieving this goal. in this instance they may seek the services of a life coach, transformational coach or a counsellor to help them achieve their goal
- How do your customers go about change? A customer’s perception of your product or service in helping them achieve THEIR life goals, will determine their level of need for your product or service and will affect their willingness to pay for your product or service. For example if you need help with hiring new staff in your business, you won’t mind paying a professional with the relevant credentials a high price, in the knowledge that it will prevent you from making unnecessary and costly mistakes in hiring new staff.
- What do they need to know to embrace change? Many business owners have fantastic products or services and yet potentially fail to communicate how their business can help clients to achieve their life goals. Do your market research, become very familiar with your customers expectations and equally with the language your customers use when describing their needs and wants. You can use this type of language that they will be familiar with in your marketing campaigns. Why? your customers will feel like you know them, as you will be speaking their language. This is a basic human trait, where customers simply want to be understood±
- Who do they turn to for advice or information? This is an often overlooked aspect of knowing your customers. As the saying goes, no man (or indeed woman) is an Island and as such everyone’s buying decisions will find favour or not with your immediate family, friends and colleagues, with this in mind it is very important, that each customer is very HAPPY with their buying decision and that they understand at least 3/4 benefits of your product or service that they can reel off to their loved ones, when questioned. Why is this important you may ask? Cognitive dissonance or buyer’s remorse is usually brought on by a customers dissatisfaction with their buying decision, this can be influenced by their family and friends and can result in returns! No business needs this and as a way of mitigating this, EVERY business owner should ensure that at the transaction stage they must thank and also repeat the excellent benefits (list at least 4) of your product or service. This will reinforce the benefits of your product or service when relaying the story to others and greatly reduces the risk of returns.
- What’s the value they visualize once they make a decision? If your business has communicated the benefits of your product or service, the customer will then be able to visualize themselves with the end solution in mind. For example a bride will visualize herself in her wedding dress, a car owner will visualize themselves driving a specific car and so on. The more vivid the image the stronger the need to buy!
- Who do they have to sell change to in order to get it? Again this point references family members, like fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses, friends and colleagues who may be a part of the purchasing decision, who may be contributing towards same or at the very least have a huge degree of influence on the buyer. If you are in an individual selling situation, it is important to chat to your prospective buyer, building enough trust that they will share their concerns with you, armed with any knowledge they divulge on outsider influences, you can allay their fears by acknowledging aspects of your product or service that may appeal to a father figure for example. As the saying goes, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason and in a buying situation, it is best to LISTEN to your customer, assess the situation and advise them accordingly. Don’t forget they often need to convince themselves too!
- What could cause the need for this change to lose priority? For example a potential customer in a gym, might find some diet pills and makes a decision to rely on these prior to attending a gym. Their embarrassment of being overweight at the gym may cause them to seek alternatives to gym membership and still lose weight. In other words, what alternatives would your customers potentially seek out??? (photo:pixabay)