U is for Understanding
I try not to write too much on market research and understanding your customers and your competitors – while it’s important, it’s not what most of you want to hear. Mostowners simply want to know how to get more customers and don’t necessarily care how this comes about.
But what if I told you that having an understanding of what goes on around you can literally double or triple how many customers you actually get? Understanding your customers and competitors isn’t just important for your own knowledge, but it can really shape how you communicate with people. And if people feel you’re speaking their language, they’ll be much more likely to come and do business with you. So when was the last time you actually sat down and thought about who your customers are? If you haven’t done this for a while, just take five minutes out and check that you know the answer to this question. I must admit that a couple of months ago I did this exercise for my own business. I felt things were generally ok but that we were a little bit off track in how we communicated with our customers. Just taking five minutes out to reconfirm who our customers were made me refocus. It also served as some reassurance that we were doing the right things, but refocusing would make that communication even stronger.
Once you’ve done this for your customers, take another five minutes and refocus on what you know about your competitors. Which competitor leads the market? Who do you admire and want to be like? Is this still the same as it was, say a year ago? Again, five minutes after doing this for my business I realised that one of our competitors that I really admired and strived to be like them had completely changed – I now admired different companies which is going to make us even better in the long run.So, that all it takes – 10 minutes out of your life. I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find and it will help you to refocus and take you back to basics.
One of the ways I use this information in my business is (as I’ve implied earlier) communication with my target customers. I literally imagine that person I want to talk to is sat by me and then I write down what I would say to them. If I’m writing a sales letter, I imagine what sort of questions I might want to ask them and how they would answer and then I would write these down exactly how I would say them. This means, or at least I hope it does, that small businesses feel I’m really communicating with them when I write. One lady who met me recently for the first time at a networking event said she felt as though she knew me already because of the information that she’s received over the years. I really do urge you to take 10 minutes out and refocus on who your customers and your competitors are and then ask yourself whether you’re doing the right thing to reach them. The answer may be yes, in which case you’ve only lost 10 minutes. But the answer might also be no, in which case this exercise will be invaluable for you. And if nothing else, it provides reassurance that you’re on the right lines.