How to Really Understand Your Customer to Grow Your Business
The following is a guest blog post provided courtesy of Rosanne DeTorres, managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law.
Did you know that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months? While there are a number of factors that might contribute to a business’s ultimate demise, there’s one in particular that stands out in my mind: knowing the customer.
In the last five years, DeTorres & DeGeorge has experienced hyper-growth with a revenue increase of 125% and profit hovering around 10%. But this growth didn’t come easily, or overnight. In fact, several years ago, we went on a fact-finding mission to identify why we weren’t growing. We did some data analytics, formed an advisory board and asked a lot of questions. Turns out, we didn’t know our customer (or our market) as well as we thought we did.
Five years later, I’m proud of the sustainable growth we’ve been able to achieve. But this could not have happened had we not taken the time to uncover the false perceptions we’d been holding onto about target audience.
How to really get to know your customer
Because of the growing pains we’ve had to endure, I am today in a position to help others who might be experiencing similar challenges of their own with proven strategies that work. It comes down to three key steps.
- Define your product or service from the customer’s point of view. Through the lens of your customer, clearly identify the products or services that you offer. You likely have a list of features and benefits, but how well do they map to your customers’ needs? Look at each one as though you’re the customer—each feature, each benefit and even your overall value proposition. Are they self-serving or do they in some way help your customer? Be clear on exactly how your product or service benefits them—and does so better than anyone else. Step outside of yourself. This is not about why you think you’re great—it’s about what’s in it for them.
- Identify your ideal customer. One of the best ways to really get to know your customers—who they are, how they behave and what they want—is to figure out who your ideal customer is. What is this person’s age and gender? What is his or her occupation, geographical location, financial or marital status, or even hobbies? Where is this person when he or she buys your product or service? Make a list of every descriptor you can think of that defines your ideal customer. The more specific you get, the better.Keep in mind, everyone is not your customer. Sure, you may be able to help many different types of clients, but your ideal customer will serve as a guide for where to target marketing efforts and resources. For example, while we often help clients with uncontested divorces, our ideal customer is the one who’s facing a high-asset, complicated divorce. We message to that customer; that’s where we invest our marketing dollars and that’s what gives us the biggest bang for our buck.
- Examine your ideal customer’s buying strategy. Look at buying patterns. What has to happen in the life or work of your ideal customer for him or her to buy your product or service? What is the pain he or she is trying to ease? What time of year, season, month or week does your customer buy? For example, people don’t typically initiate divorce towards the end of the year, so our sales go down in December. Understanding those sales cycles is important in understanding your customer.
You also want to determine how your ideal customer buys your product or service. Has he or she bought similar products or services in the past? If so, by what means? What is your ideal customer’s buying strategy? How does your customer go about making a buying decision for your product? There are many questions you can ask around buying behavior that will help you narrow down the persona of your ideal customer. The more questions you can ask and answer, the better handle you’ll ultimately have on your target market.
Don’t be afraid to dig deep; it’s well worth the time and effort you put into it. When you get clear on who exactly you should be targeting, you lay the foundational building blocks for success.