Running a business means never stopping in your efforts to understand more. Understanding more about your industry lets you find better ways to do what you do, to anticipate changes, make savings and get to the next big development first. Understanding more about your employees let’s you be sure you’re getting the best from them, drawing on all the relevant skills they have for you and not driving them towards burnout without respite. Perhaps most important of all, learning about your customers means you can adapt your products and services to fit them better, tailor your marketing to be more attractive to your audience, and your marketing to target the customer most likely to be persuaded by it, getting better results for the same (or smaller!) spend.
How can you learn about consumers though? You have experience and expertise in your industry and direct access to your employees, but consumers, especially ones who have yet to shop with you, are often beyond your reach.
Today we’re taking a look at ways you can actually learn about your customers, and gather precious consumer intelligence that lets you take the best decisions for your business.
There are some things you alone can do that can help you to learn about your customers, though you need to be aware of the limitations of this approach.
Surveying customers in-store, online or by including a link with your receipt or invoice means you have the chance to find out why people are choosing you. Keeping your survey short, and including a small reward, like entry into a prize draw (or even a small amount of credit for every respondent) will drive a high enough level of engagement to give you a confident idea of what people like about your business, though others believe this sort of incentive isn’t necessary.
The drawback here is that you’re not learning about the people who are currently passing you by. You can specialise to appeal even more to the people who already like your brand, but you can’t use that information to build a bigger audience.
To get access to that bigger, more valuable store of data, you need to partner up with specialists in the field. Market research firms know how to get useful, actionable insights from a broad segment of your entire potential target market, not the small section who already choose your brand as second nature.
From using omnibus surveys to build a demographic understanding of your market quickly and cheaply, to brand trackers, that tell you how you rank with your competitors in the market and why. All of these tools and more can be deployed by market research experts to help you learn about customers, whether they’re already loyal or have yet to choose you.