Getting to know your customer isn’t only the first step towards sales, it’s the most important one.
Now I don’t mean know them by name, or what position their kids play in Hockey (brownie points if you do). What I’m saying relates to information gathering about your customer. The old saying “Knowledge is power” rings true, but in this case, I’m going to elaborate, then explain exactly how knowledge can be converted to tangible (selling) power.
The information that should steer any business or marketing plan should be directly influenced by your customers. You need to learn as much as you can about both your ideal customer (your customer Avatar), as well as the real ones you may already have. The more accurately you can relate to them, the easier it will be to mould your marketing around them and ultimately get your products selling.
The first step is to understand your demographic. This isn’t some huge task meant for focus groups, it can be much simpler. You need to break down your items or business into categories, either in your head or on a spreadsheet (don’t worry it shouldn’t take long, I’ll wait) and within these categories align similar products or genres. From this list, you’ll want to associate customer characteristics with the different items.
You should know the age group that you’re trying to sell the product to, the lifestyle that they presumably have, the frequency of their purchasing, what may attract them to your business, the behaviours they display when browsing and any other trends or oddball tidbits they all share; the goal is of course to know as much as you can about who you want to sell to so you can target that.
For example, if your selling bicycles, you’ll know that potentially anyone can ride a bike, however, there are most likely, 3 distinct categories:
- people who ride bikes for fun or fitness.
- people who ride bikes for transportation.
- people who do not ride bikes.
Let’s say the bike you are selling is pink, has streamers, and the seat sits about 20″ off the ground.
In all likelihood, it’s not for transportation and while fitness is likely a nice bi-product, it’s probably a bike that would be purchased for leisure, and it’s likely to be a kids bike.
Now ask yourself what else do you know without ever even seeing or speaking to a customer?
It’s probably a product that is intended to last at least a few seasons, so it’s most likely to be purchased at infrequent intervals. (It’s also a product that you may be able to sell accessories around, maybe a helmet, maybe a bell…)
Ok keep going…you’re doing great…remember to think about your customer.
Most kids don’t tote around a wallet full of crisp bills or credit cards. So an adult is probably going to be paying for it while the kid is falling in love with it.
With all this information take a looks at who you are trying to attract because sometimes the way you advertise a product could be completely different out-of-store from how you need to advertise in-store. In the case of the example,
Out-of-store will likely be directed in such a way to attract the adult purchaser to come visit your business, but in-store may reflect trying to get the kid to fall in love with the bike as well as addressing the features or price point with the adult.
For each product or each genre of products, the most basic information carries details that you don’t want to miss and there is often more info in each piece of knowledge than you may know.
After determining your ideal client for each product or genre, and investigating their purchasing habits, and behaviours, etc., find out which products are the most purchased and which ones which are overlooked (this info can be just as juicy!). With this data, you can decide which products are worth keeping stocked and then cater your advertising efforts towards your ideal customer.
All of this hard work is the first step in developing the marketing strategy that you implement in-store, on-line, and in print. Marketing strategy can be addressed at any point of doing business, but if you’re about to start a new business try to know a lot before you open. If you’re already open, learn it as your go and make changes when necessary. In all cases, your customer base is the lifeblood of your business, the more accurate knowledge you possess, the better you cater to their needs and in turn the more tangible selling power you create, all leading to healthier, more successful business.