Knowing and understanding your customers is the cornerstone of a successful business. It enables you to create or improve existing products or services that anticipate customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. It also ensures that you are using effective methods to market and deliver your products or services to them. 

To gain clarity on your customers, their buying behaviors and what makes your product or service attractive to them consider the following: 

1.    Who are they?
If you are selling to other businesses find out what size of business you are dealing with and who is the decision maker? If you are selling direct to consumers you should know demographic information about such as the gender, age, marital status and geographic location of your customers. 

2.    What do they do?
Take the time to find out your customers occupation or job title. And if you are selling to a business make sure to find their goals and understand who they are selling to.  

3.    What is their budget?
There is more to the buying decision than price but your customer will have a budget that will influence their purchase.  

4.    What is their reason for buying your product or service?
Think about the desired outcome that your customer has in mind when they are deciding to buy your product or service. Do they have specific task to perform or is it an emotional purchase? Are they trying to make themselves feel or look a certain way by using your product or service?  What problem do they have that you can provide the solution to? 

5.    When do they buy?
How often will your customers need to buy your product or service? Understanding this will help you to contact them at them at just the right time to remind them to buy from you. 

6.    How or where do they buy?
Do you know if your customers prefer to browse and buy online or whether they like to visit a shop and see a physical product?  When selling to businesses do they prefer to discuss your offering in a face to face meeting or by telephone? 

7.    What do they think about your business?
Ask yourself what impression your customers have of your business? Perhaps they have a long standing relationship with your business and buy from you for that reason. Do they see you as easy to do business with? 

8.    What do they think about your competitors? 
If you lose a customer or fail to win their business ask why they have decided not to accept your quote or why they have gone to a competitor. Equally if you win new business, ask your customer why they have decided to give you a try.  

9.    What do they value?
Your customers may not always place value for money or quality at the top of this list.  It could be that they put more value on reliability, relationships, or their expectations being exceeded. 

10.    What are their objections to buying?
Your customers may be weighing up the risks of making the wrong buying decision and making a choice that won’t meet their needs fully or will be difficult within their budget.  If you are aware of these objections you can work to address these through your marketing messages.  

How do you find out this information?

Be attentive and listen to your customers through all channels including your social media. Ideally conduct more formal market research such as surveys and focus groups. A trade association can help to keep you more informed on market sector information and new developments. Stay familiar with what your competitors are offering and speak to your suppliers. Step into your customers shoes by mapping out a customer journey and speak to your customer facing front-line staff. By doing so you will be better equipped to make the right decisions and create products and services that your customers actually want.  

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