Don’t like the pushy, sales-y marketing we’re confronted with in our day-to-day lives? Then how about being more authentic and sustainable in growing your small business by choosing a customer-focused marketing approach?
If you’re following my blog regularly, you already know that I believe that marketing doesn’t have to be annoying to get results. And today, I’d like to help you define what customer-focused marketing looks like for your business, as well as how you can implement it.
Do your research
The first step towards creating a customer-focused marketing strategy is doing some research. There’s no point in marketing to your customers if you don’t actually know what they want.
There are several ways you can carry out customer research. Try creating an online survey to send out to your mailing list or social media followers. Ask insightful questions (such as what problems do they struggle with that your business or product might be able to solve) and actually listen to the answers.
If your small business interacts with customers on a daily basis, then simply ask them what they want. You don’t always need a formal survey to carry out research. Start a conversation with customers – I’ve written before about the importance of focusing on engagement. Now’s the time!
Ask them why they visit businesses like yours, and what they want from your type of services or products.
And don’t forget to ask your staff too, especially those who work closely with customers. They will have seen the problems customers face, and the reasons why they keep returning to your business.
Adapt your marketing strategy
Does your existing marketing strategy still apply? Or do you need to refocus in order to give customers what they want? By this point, you should know the following:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What do they like about your business?
- And what do they dislike about your business?
- Which problems do they face (related to your products or services)?
- How could your products or services make their life easier?
- What do they want from your business that is currently missing?
- How do they see your competitors?
- What benefits do they get from your business that makes you stand out?
By analysing the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to see what you’ve been doing right and what you need to add to your marketing strategy.
Make sure you’re targeting the right people with the right information. Work out the best way to reach these people and tell them all about how your products or services will make their life better.
Implement your customer-focused marketing
After re-defining your marketing strategy, work out the best way to implement it. Make sure your marketing strategy is present in all aspects of your business.
You want to create a clear message so customers are getting the best possible service, every step of the way.
1. Choose your marketing channels
As straightforward as it sounds, this is a major stumbling block for many small business owners! With so many directions to go in, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or swayed by what other people are doing.
There’s no point in spending hundreds of pounds on an advert in a local newspaper if your customers are all social media-obsessed teenagers.
Try out different marketing channels to find out what works for your small business, keeping in mind the customer research you’ve already done.
Consider building an email mailing list if Twitter isn’t working for you. Or connect with bloggers in your niche rather than advertising in magazines. The most important thing is to stay in your lane and not allow the pressure to be “everywhere, all the time” to distract you from what’s working.
Check out my top tips for choosing the right marketing platforms for your business here.
2. Offer great customer service
Even customer service can be a form of marketing. By offering great customer service, you’re showing how much you value your customers.
These people are then likely to return to your business again and again, as well as recommend you through word-of-mouth or online reviews.
By focusing on what the customer wants, you can market your business through the customers themselves.
Looking to get more referrals for your small business? Here’s how to do it.
3. Product management and development
Keep your customer-centric marketing strategy in mind when developing new products or services. Think about what your customers really need, and how you could create a product to fill this gap.
If you create a product that your customers want, it becomes so much easier to market it. You already know the customers are ready and waiting, all you have to do is tell them about the product and encourage them to buy it!
When taking this route, always make sure you have the capacity to actually follow through with the plan before rushing in! Growing your business or product line is exciting, but a big step. Do your research and figure out exactly what you need to make it work. It will be so worth it in the end!
4. Marketing through sales
This is a more traditional way of marketing, but it’s still very relevant for marketing with a customer focus. Just because people hate cold calls, unsolicited emails or pushy salespeople, it doesn’t mean they hate sales overall.
Instead of being annoying, use your marketing strategy and research to find a more relaxed, relevant way to sell your products to your customers.
Now, all that’s left to do is make a plan and get started! Keep listening to (and learning from) your customers to find a way to market your small business. And don’t forget to provide them with great, friendly service and products that they really want.
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
7 Steps to Improve Your Customer Experience
How to Identify a Target Market for Your Small Business
Ideal Clients: How to Define & Attract them to Your Small Business
7 Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Existing Customers