How to Reassess Your Marketing
With Internet marketing particularly, it's all too easy to think of your customers as numbers
or statistics -- up to now, I have been telling you about the importance of doing your qualitative and quantitative research so that you can know your market. However, this time I want to focus on what your customers want when they interact with your business.
Reassess your marketing
The first thing to do when it comes to knowing your market is to reassess what you are doing currently and decide if it's working or not. So many business owners just plow on with a marketing campaign without stopping to look at whether it actually working. By ‘working’ I mean activities that are actually bringing in a clear profit. If any of your marketing is not making a decent profit -- stop doing it now.
You really should be testing and measuring all of your marketing -- it is the basis of your success. If you don't understand what's working then you could spend a lot of time and money flogging a dead horse, when you could be putting your energy and focus into something that will bring results. Think about the following:
- What is the lifetime value of your customer? How much are they spending on average? Are your customers coming back for more of your products and services, or do they disappear after the first purchase. If they are not returning -- ask them why. Is there a problem with your products or is it simply that you don't have an effective marketing funnel.
- Where are all your new customers coming from? What marketing tactics are working? Ask every customer how they heard about you as a matter of routine. If you don't have a system of analyzing where your new customers are coming from, how can you understand what is working?
- What are your marketing costs? What does it cost you to gain every new customer? Are you actually generating a profit per customer, or are your profits swallowed up in your market costs?
Take a step back
One of the problems when you are running a business is that you become embroiled in all the details of the day-to-day running of your business and it can get overwhelming and frustrating -- especially if you feel like you're working like a dog and getting nowhere.
Sometimes it pays to take a step back and look at the big picture -- change your viewpoint and look at your business from different angles. One of the most productive things you can do is to look at your business from your customer's perspective.
Use your imagination
One of the things you can do to try to understand your market is to use your imagination and put yourself in your customers place. Try a radical paradigm shift and see yourself as a customer of your business. What is your first impression? What are your expectations of your company? What would you demand in terms of the level of service? What is your opinion on the quality and usefulness of your company's products and services?
Think about your experiences with other companies – what have you felt about the service you received and the products you bought. Did you interact with the real human being, or was your purchase completed automatically over the Internet? How does this make you feel? Would you have preferred some sort of human interaction or are you happy to buy from an automated system? Most importantly, what would make you go back to this company for further purchases, and would you recommend your friends and family?
Just a few careful thought experiments, asking these sorts of questions and putting yourself in your customer's shoes can be quite enlightening. Most business owners think of their business purely from their side of the transaction but if you can step outside your own perspective and take an honest look at your business from the outside -- you will gain some real understanding of how your customers feel when they do business with you. This can give you a big head start on most of your competitors.
Look at what's working
Go back to your SWOT analysis of your business and focus on what is working. Look at everything you are doing and pick out the top two or three things that are bringing you in the most business and concentrate on these. Is it e-mail marketing? Telemarketing or speaking to people in person? Find out what is bringing in the business and do more of it. Consider whether it would be worth actually paying someone to go out and speak to people if this is what brings in the most business.
Consult your customers
Let's just recap on some of the ways you can ask your customers what they want from your business and your products and services:
- Look at the statistics and trends with quantitative analysis – look at your website analytics and analyze your test marketing results
- Carry out a survey -- more on this in a moment
- Visit forums and discussion groups and see what people have to say
- Collate information from social media posts
- Ask other business owners in related fields. Ask if you can share information and pool your market research
- Find out what people are buying -- what are the most popular products being bought and the current trends?
A good way to do some primary research is to carry out a survey among your own customers and subscribers. It's so much easier to sell to existing customers than it is to find new ones -- in fact it can be 50-100 times easier, so it's worth pulling out all the stops to find out what your existing customers think of you and how you can serve them better. Ask them what they want and whether they have any suggestions for improving your existing products or ideas for adding new products or services to your range. You can also survey the customers of other businesses when you carry out joint promotions.
By asking questions you can understand what it is you need to do to new gain customers, increase your sales conversion or increase the number of sales you make to your existing customers.
Try to get information about:
- Your website or your marketing materials -- are the effective? What impression do they give your prospective customers?
- What feelings and emotions are stirred up in your customers when they interact with your business? Are they excited about your products and services? Are they irritated by anything? Do they feel valued as a customer? Find out how they feel about their experience of your business and use this as a tool for improving.
- What do they think about your products and services? Do they meet their needs adequately? Do they offer value for money? Are they recommending your products and services to others? If not, why not?
- What do your customers think about the customer service your business offers? Are they treated with respect? Are they valued? Does your business go the extra mile for your customers? Do you deliver on time? Do you keep your promises? Do you thank your customers adequately? Is your follow-up service all it should be?
By simply asking these questions you can get a better understanding of your business. For example, the question ‘Does your business go the extra mile for your customers?’, might serve as a reminder that you are falling short in this area and prompt you to look at how you can improve your customer service.
At end of your survey, give your participants an opportunity to have their say. This it’s a great chance to get a testimonial if they are happy and an opportunity to put things right and improve if things are not so good.
Thank your participants
Don't forget to say thank you to people for taking the time to fill out your survey. If they have gone online to fill out your form, you could offer a reward such as a free sample of your products, a free consultation, a free digital book or a software download, for example. If you have mailed your survey, include a voucher to redeem for something useful as a thank you gift. It also encourages people to actually return your survey.
Get opt ins
If you are recruiting participants from the general public or from other people's lists, for example, you can use this as a good opportunity to get more subscribers to your list. Just include a check box so that people can agree to let you contact them in future.
In later posts I will take you through some more market research strategies but for now, here is your usual market research head start with some stats and trends to consider…
Market research head start