There are a number of different steps that need to be taken before you open any kind of business, but one of the most important is being aware of what your target market is and what it is they really want. This is something that is actually quite commonly forgotten, as you tend to get caught up in all the minutiae of setting the business in motion. If you don’t take the time to think about what the customer truly want, you will simply end up giving them the exact same things that your competitors do, which will do nothing to make you stand out in the crowd. Let’s look at 9 steps you can take to identify what it is they want:
- Be the customer – It’s time for a little bit of role playing, with your step into the shoes of the people that are likely to visit your online business and spend money. If you have chosen a specific niche to market, there must have been some reason for doing so. Hopefully, it will be something that you are passionate about, as this will help you to look at things more objectively. If you were to go searching for the type of store you are opening, what would you hope to find there above all else?
- Track customer behavior – You can look at your website to see which pages are being accessed the most. For example, let’s imagine that you have an online store devoted to all things golf. Now let’s assume that the golf balls section is the one that is most visited. If you dig into the stats and see that the vast majority of customers are leaving that page without making a purchase, it means there is something missing that they want.
- Engage your customers – A big part of building trust comes with the creation of relationships online. This means being active in social that bears your company brand. You will most commonly use those pages to deliver quality content relevant to your niche, but you should also not be afraid to come right out and ask what it is that the customer wants. If you ask it, people will happily answer, and the best part of it all is that it won’t cost you a dime to find out.
- Listen to feedback – Customer service is an essential element in the success of any business, but it only works if you listen to the feedback. If a customer complains, they are essentially telling you what it is that they need in order to be satisfied. Yes, there are those that will complain just for the sake of doing so, but the vast majority will have a valid complaint that will help you fill all the gaps in the service you provide.
- Plan ahead – While I can be incredibly easy to live in the moment with your business, you need to be looking ahead to anticipate changes in the industry. What the customer wants today may very well change tomorrow when something new comes along. It is up to you to try and stay on top of what those changes may possibly be and implement them as quickly as possible. There may be times when your best guess does not really pan out, but your customers will still notice that you are making the effort and will thank you for it in the form of coming back for repeat business.
- Take it to the streets – When you run an online business, you can very quickly become detached from what’s going on out in the real world. There are a couple of ways that you can find out what the word on the street is, starting out by doing a little survey or research that asks the average customer what they expect from your chosen niche. You might also want to spend some time in traditional bricks and mortar stores that are part of your industry and listen to what customers are saying. Both methods will lead to some great insights that will help your business.
- Step outside your niche – There is a lot to be learned from the way in which successful companies deal with their customers. Rather than just looking at those that operate in the same small world as your own, look at other industries to see what it is they do to keep their customers satisfied and happy. What steps do they take to solve customer problems, and how do they get those customers to come back for more? The industries you operate in may be different, but the way in which problems are solved to the satisfaction of the customer tend to be very much the same.
- Be better than the rest – This may sound overly simplistic, but the reality is that people want more than what they are getting now, even when they are happy with the product or service they are paying for. Take a look at what’s on offer in your industry and come up with ways that those things can be improved. Oftentimes, it is something very simple that can end up being the tipping point that drives customers from the competitors to your virtual front doors.
- Be aware of what you do right – Whenever you complete a sale, do a follow up with the customer to find out what they enjoyed about their experience in doing business with you. Most companies believe that they know what the customer wants, but may, in fact, be surprised to find that their client base values on particular element more than others. For example, you might think that our speed of delivery is what they love most, when it may actually be the number of products or services that you have to offer. Find out what they like the most and you will be able to deliver a much better experience all around.