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What do your customers want?

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    Trying to be all things to all people may not work for you in today’s business world. If you are organised enough, you can take the guesswork out of marketing your small business by opening up your communication and giving your customer what they actually want with well-written content. Customers nowadays have unprecedented control over what they expect from companies, and rarely tolerate ‘spray advertising’ – that is, advertising that they didn’t ask for or that doesn’t interest them.

    Compiling customer profiles

    This will not only help you understand your existing customers, but will help you get to know new ones and spot potential customers early in the buying cycle.

    Segmentation marketing 1

    Start by assuming that your competition has already started this process. If this is true, it should scare you to know that they know your potential customer’s names, professions, birthdates, and where they live, and what they might like to buy in the future.

    You may have had a similar idea to compile this information before, through email lists or whatever – but the easiest, safest and most reliable way to get this information is to simply ask your current customers for it. There are a few ways you can do this, relatively unobtrusively:

    1. Surveys – not too long mind you, you don’t want them to abandon it and go elsewhere.
    2. Customer cards that they can fill out on/after their first visit/purchase, either in store or online.
    3. Competition entries.

    Why send a mass email to everyone when you can just send them to the group that will most likely buy the product that you are offering or to those who have shown interest in your product?

    Segmenting your customer lists

    This is a simple way of building a customer profile. There are 4 main criteria you might apply; however this is by no means an extensive list:

    1. Geographical – Where do your customers live? Do you typically get locals, or are you a brand leader that people will cover larger distances to see you? Is your product or service location dependant?
    2. Type of Customer – Do you sell to individuals or other businesses?
    3. Demographics – How old are your customers, what kind of job do they have, how many in their household? If your customers are businesses, then what industry are they in, and where do they conduct their business?
    4. Psychology – Where in the buying cycle are they? Do they have a sense of brand loyalty? What kind of lifestyle do they lead, how do they see your advertising? (e.g. On television, print, email, internet)

    Once you have this information, it can be tricky to use it effectively. You may need a good customer relationship management system (CRM) in place to make sense of it all, and be able to target these groups with effective SEO strategy. This can either be an elaborate piece of software, or as simple as a well organised MS Access file, depending on your unique needs. Whatever you choose, it can make your communication with your customers and prospects more efficient, regular and better informed.

    The uses for customer information are only as limited as your budget or imagination – from an online perspective, think email campaigns and better targeted paid search for special offers. Offline, it can be used from something as simple as conversational topics (asking your customer when they are likely to buy or need your service again), or for direct marketing such as print advertising or direct mail.

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