4 steps to get to know your customer

Customer…a pretty straightforward term for a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business. Regardless of what business you are in, you know who your customers are because they give you money in exchange for something in return.

But do you really know your customers? What have you done to develop an understanding of who your customers are? Before developing a strong marketing plan, you must have a firm knowledge of who is in your crosshairs. By knowing what makes them tick, you can optimize your efforts to reach them effectively

Unfortunately, it appears most brands lack this vital information. A survey conducted by Yesmail Interactive and research firm Gleanster found that nearly 80 percent of the brands in the market do not have sufficient data to launch an effective marketing campaign.

Here are four measures you can take to get you started in the ongoing journey toward knowing your customer.

1) Ask

Seize every opportunity to ask your customers about what they need and want, what works for them and what doesn’t. In every interaction with your customer, ask…whether formally or informally. Surveys, for example, are one of the best formal means to get customer feedback, as are focus groups. And don’t forget the traditional comment form – online or on location – still used by many today.

2) Investigate

Don’t just collect data, analyze all data available to you – why customers are calling customer service, what products they are buying on line, who is signing up for your loyalty program, what feedback you are receiving on your social media pages. It may be worth it for you to hire a data specialist who can make sense of data collected from various means. The goal is to visualize your customer by identifying such factors as gender, income, location, hobbies and spending patterns so that you can craft messages that resonate with them.

3) Seek out/be proactive

Go online. Look into what your customers are saying about you on social media. Notice how they are interacting with your brand. It’s an excellent way to gather feedback. Then, get actively involved in engaging with them. Find ways to let them know you are listening, you appreciate them and you are genuinely interested in them. Taking it one step further, check out what your competitors’ customers are saying about their brand.

4) Challenge assumptions

One fatal mistake… assuming. Don’t assume you know your customers or that stale information about the customer you’ve always had is still relevant. Just as your brand evolves, so does the customer. Make sure you understand his needs, desires and goals in the here-and-now.