Sunday, September 16, 2012

Business Owners! How Smart Is Your Customer? Discover 3 Key Strategies To Find Out!

How smart is your customer? That's actually a riddle - like a "Why did the chicken cross the road" kind of riddle. Why? Because the answer you give to the riddle relates more to you than to your customer's actual intelligence. Let me explain.

At a recent marketing meeting, we targeted a tricky topic: Customer Intelligence. Going back to the opening riddle, "How Smart Is Your Customer?" we determined that emotional intelligence in marketing needs to focus on fulfilling a need, whereas to build on customer intelligence overall we needed to focus on product or service awareness. In other words, we needed to educate our buyer.

Some companies have gotten very technical with their approach to customer intelligence. They break down intelligence through "technologically-aggressive" approaches, based almost completely on social networks, analysis, tracking how customers buy online, etc. They also address "business-aggressive" approaches, focusing on handling different customers in different ways, tapping into all the touch-points of emotional marketing, split testing and marketing, and making sure that the team all agrees on what the target audience, or primary customer looks like. These are all good techniques, but without the right tools in place, the whole structure can fall apart.

"We are all carpenters of our trade," our marketing manager concluded. "Therefore, our "toolbox" needs to not only have all the tools we will need, but a blueprint, if you will, of our plan. We all need to be clear on what exactly we're building, for whom, and why."

What is your company's challenge? Do you have the tools you need to make the necessary changes? Do you have a blueprint-a plan-in place? Do you know how to profile your customers?

Customer intelligence is commonly associated with effective "customer relation management" (CRM), offering insights into the behavior and experience of key customers. Many businesses track customer behavior through surveys, or simply by asking them questions and documenting and tracking that data to draw conclusions, and then using that information to fashion future marketing campaigns. Generally, the results give business owners insights into their competitors, trends, customers' current and future needs, how customers make their decisions, and can provide valuable clues to what piques a customer's interest, what has "sticking" power, and what prompts the customer to refer that business to a friend or colleague.

We determined at the end of the meeting that "It all comes down to customer needs, customer satisfaction, and our ability to educate." We also came up with these 3 key strategies to educating customers:

1. To educate your customer, educate yourself. How? TRACK AND MEASURE. You can't know where you're going unless you know where you started. Don't guess numbers. Track them. Then you can go after a better target, devise a better offer, and create an added value!

2. Know the 9 basic needs of your customer: Subsistence: the state of existing, Protection: the need to feel safe, Affection: the need for trust, closeness, Understanding: the need to be heard, Participation: the need to belong and be part of, Leisure: the need to relax, be unworried, unstressed, Creativity: the need to make something happen, Identity: the need to be seen, heard, appreciated, Freedom: the need to have a choice. Incorporate these into your advertising and marketing campaigns.

3. Apply the 80/20 rule: Some people are simply not meant to be your customers, and maybe they don't even know that. But, if you've tracked and measured properly, you'll know who they are, and you're know the 20% of customers that you want to put your focus and attention toward. Let the other 80% haggle it out with your competitors.

Did it surprise you that the 3 Key Strategies toward educating your customer was really about educating yourself? If you're like most business owners, trying to do everything, measure everything, track everything, and be everything to everybody, you're exhausted. Maybe you even feel unappreciated, overworked, and unfulfilled.

That's why your "toolkit" needs systems that support the blueprint that helps put everything in its place. I'm sure you've needed to do some handy work around the house...hang a picture, maybe, or tighten a screw. Perhaps you've gone to the toolbox and the hammer or screwdriver you needed aren't there. Maybe you're clever. You improvise and use a knife for the screwdriver, or your shoe for the hammer, but in the business world, while ingenuity is imperative, a well-kept toolkit is a must as well. Your tools will be different from a hammer and nail, of course, but if effective systems aren't in place, you'll be that handy person, searching for tools that aren't there, and your business will surely crumble.

Don't let that be the case. If you don't have the "systems" in place, let an executive business coach help you. It turns out customers are smart. They look for what we offer: No games. No gimmicks. Just results.

Let me know if this article was helpful. I promise to share more ways to open doors to your personal and professional growth.

---------------------------------------------------- At ActionCOACH business coaching, we help business owners affordably reach their goals by providing each with proven strategies to excel in areas of time, team, management, and money. Email me at:

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