Business Advice

Before You Begin Your Next Marketing Program… Take Another Look At Your Customers And Their Needs

In this article we'll look at the value of your existing customers. Not the lukewarm, wishy-washy appreciation of customers that most business has. I mean the intense insight that it is NOT new customers, but old customers that are the key to growth and profitability.

Your best prospects are your existing customers. If you've been putting all your marketing efforts into acquiring new customers, stop and divert some of your resources into reselling and cross selling to those same customers.

Do this in every way possible -- through package inserts, regular mailings and special offers -- stay in touch with those customers and get them used to buying from you.

Your customer relationships are the number one asset you have, so stay in touch. Provide your customers with post purchase reassurance; give them the best deals and guarantees you can possibly getaway with. Give them preferential pricing and build rapport and trust.

A frequently overlooked way to gain your customer’s trust is to thank them for favouring you with their purchase. Send your customer a letter within 5 days to a week after the customer's first transaction, where you:

  • Thank them
  • Resell the value of your company and
  • Reassure them of  prudence of their purchase

Such letters program your customer tore purchase from you and are an excellent way to offer additional products and services or upgrade the original sale.

The point is you must reinforce the buyer's decision. This simple action can prove extremely powerful because it builds your long term sales.

Have you considered how the value of your customer increases if you actively contact them again and again?

  • Create a special offer to go with every invoice or delivery
  • Program your data management system to contact customers every month or each quarter
  • Mail your regular customers every month
  • Mail delinquent customers and prospects every two months
  • And if you have a really HOT offer that really works mail your entire customer list.
  • Offer to up-sell at the point of purchase
  • And tell your customer why they should buy, how to buy, what to do and why they should do it now.

 Before you begin to market these programs you may want to take another look at your customers and their needs

Ninety percent of businesses I look at NEVER determine the needs, desires or requirements of the people they're trying to sell to.

How can you expect to adequately fill somebody’s needs if you never take the time to understand them? It's laughable! Yet few companies seek to meet their customer’s needs. Those companies that do understand their customer's needs and attempt to satisfy those needs seem to end up with all the business. You can end up with all the business too, if you'll take the time to learn what your customers need and want.

Let's probe that a little …

People want products that offer convenience or better quality. They want things that last longer, save time, look better, perform more functions, are state of the art, save money, make life less difficult by saving effort, generate more money, or make their owners more effective.

What do your customers want or need most in the product or service you offer? Do they want the convenience of knowing they can go down the block and get it from you or the knowledge that your firm stocks or offers more items, sizes, or products than any other company? Do they want Top-of-the-line products or service? Or, do they want highly personalised service, attention, advice and instruction?

Perhaps they merely want to acquire the kind of goods and services you sell at the lowest possible price. Or maybe price alone isn't what they're after - maybe they want the best guarantee or the best service to support the sale.

We don't always know which need or which combination of needs you customer is seeking, but once you find and fill that need you'll own your business niche.

If you don't know what needs your customer wants you to fill, start by recognising that no one can be all things to all people. You'll dilute your image as a need filler if you try and do that. So first determine which needs you can fill that is consistent with who you are, what your business is and how you operate.

Then talk to your customers and let them tell you specifically what needs they most want filled and decide which of those needs you can actually fill.

Then, don't just silently fill those needs. Inform your customers and the entire market place that you've listened and that you’ve done something to satisfy the needs of your customers. Continually inform, educate and point out that your company is fulfilling the needs of your customers. Change your ads and sales letters and phone your customers and inform them you're prepared to fill their needs.

Once you determine precisely what your customer’s needs are and you commit to fulfilling those needs … Then do it.

If you decide that service is the critical element, offer the best service, the fastest service, the most skilled people and the most knowledgeable staff.

If top quality is the need you decide to fill, don’t offer mediocre goods! If you claim to be the best quality business, make darned certain you're a regular fusspot about what you sell. If you promise the lowest price, keep that promise. Integrity demands it.

If you don't genuinely fill the needs you say you will, your customers will soon abandon you.

The cornerstone of your marketing plan should be to educate your customers.

One of the saddest marketing mistakes I see is the failure of businesses to educate their customers about the unique advantages offered them.

When you educate your customers you’ll see your profits soar. Think about yourself. When you buy or consider buying anytime or service you often don't know as much as you'd like to know about the item. If you have any unanswered questions about a product, you're less likely to shell out the money to buy it.

When a company takes time and initiative to objectively educate people on all the products they're considering purchasing, it gains trust and favour.

Education is a powerful marketing technique. Educate your prospective buyer about everything including a few of the bad or less positive aspects of your product or service and you'll sell almost twice as many people as you do now.

This one concept - educating your customers - will gain an inordinate advantage over your competitors.

Take your customers by the hand

Few businesses realise that they must lead the customer to action in addition to developing a compelling marketing plan.

People need to be told how to act and obtain your product or service. Therefore -and this is incredibly important - every sales call, letter, commercial or personal contact should make the case for your product. Give your customer a brief education then take them by the hand and tell them what action to take next.

Tell them why

Whenever you ask for a sale, run an ad roofer a product at a specific price, always tell the reasons why.

Why can you sell a product or service at lower prices than your competitors? Is it lower overhead or volume buying? Do you buy odd lot inventories? Do you not provide all the services? Why is your price so good?

If your price is high, tell your customer why. Do you offer a superior product? Is your product made with demonstrably finer materials? Is your product designed to last or perform longer than your competitors?

If your price or package is especially good value, tell customers why you're makingthis offer. Is it because the customer is ordering for the first time and it's an exclusive offer for first time customers? Or is it because you got a great purchase on all or part of the components in the package and you want to pass the saving son? Or, is it because you're overstocked and you want to clear your slow moving inventory so, you're willing to sell at a loss.

Please tell your customer the reasons why! Why should I patronise you instead of your competitors? Tell them what you’re doing that makes favoring your firm better for them. Why can you handle my purchase better than someone else? Please tell your customer all the reasons why. The more factual, believable, creditable and plausible reasons you give for people to deal with you, the more compelled they are to favour you with their business.

Make yourself into an expert

Here's a marketing niche that's crying to be filled. Reposition your company as the source for industry information - as an expert in the industry - and you'll be amazed at the increase in business that results.

First educate people about your product or service. Tell them all the interesting details regarding the construction and function of the product and be sure to include this information in your advertising and promotional material.

Next, create a booklet or report about how your product or service can save customers' money, time or effort and how you offer better guarantees, personalized service and advice.

And finally have a report on how to buy or what to look for when choosing your product or service. You might even have a broader book about the product category that only touches on your particular service.

So there you have it …

Four powerful strategies you can implement straight away. “Understanding customers and their needs” and “educating customers to your value” are surprisingly simple but highly effective and when implemented concurrently will produce amazing results.

For more information about how your business can benefit from these and other powerful marketing tactics go to www.betterbusinessreport.com/ab4s1.htm