There’s no shortage of experts in the world. Just pick a subject, do an Internet search for it and the word “expert”, and watch in awe as your search engine delivers to you hundreds of proclaimed experts and their advice. Some of the time you can learn a lot from reading expert advice online. Usually, it’s just the same advice being taught by a different person.
People still like to turn to experts when they want advice that could help them improve their business, or when they want to find out some tips and tricks, or best practices. And that’s great because the need to constantly better oneself and one’s business is what drives more than just the economy – it drives our whole civilization.
But for marketers, or content creators, or any other profession that creates products or services and sells them directly to customers, the experts aren’t the only voices that should be sought out for advice. Actually, the customers are those who would be best at telling you what you’re doing wrong and what they like about your products, and their feedback should be the focus on any new development of your business. This goes double if you’re a marketer.
The Story of Starbucks
There’s a lot to be learned from Starbucks’ relationship with its customers. When looked on the surface, Starbucks is a strong brand without a doubt, but it is still just a coffee shop chain. There are plenty of other coffee shop chains, and some might even serve better coffee. But none of them has a place in the hearts and minds of their customers like Starbucks does, and for a very good reason: Starbucks based its business completely around its customers.
What was genial about Starbucks’ strategy is that the brand managed to insert itself into the lives of its customers as a place they’ve been missing their whole lives. It’s a place that’s not home, and it’s not work either. It’s the place where everything that lies in between could happen. You can meet your soul mate at a Starbucks, you can create new social connections, you can use it as a place to work out of the office, or the place where you get your morning coffee. The value Starbucks gives to its customers is in having a place that’s their own but also belongs to other people at the same time.
The point here is that Starbucks has done all of this with their customers in mind. They’ve tailored a brand according to their customers’ desires and now they are rightfully reaping the rewards. This same principle could and should be applied with pretty much any business where something is being marketed. To do so, however, you need to know what your clients need, want, or think.
How to Find out What’s On Your Customers’ Mind
There’s no way around it – you need to engage your customers in order to find out what they think about your business. There are more than a few ways of doing this, but the following are probably the easiest.
Social media is the least time consuming and most cost effective way of engaging your customers. Every business should have a Facebook or Google+ page at least, with Twitter and Instagram often use options as well. Having a social media profile is relatively cheap for a business, or it can even be free, and it gives the customers a space where they can voice their concerns about a business, or give it praise. It’s important to encourage customers to do so, so rows of posts or comments without a single reply from the business are something that should be avoided. Social media allow direct communication with customers, and it should be utilized to the fullest extent.
Surveys are also a great tool for finding out what’s on your customers’ mind. They can post on social media profiles, sent as newsletters, post on blogs, even hand deliver at the place where the business’ products are sold. They require a bit more time from the customer than commenting on social media does, though, so it might be a good idea to keep them reasonably short.
Phones are still used, and calling customers to ask for their feedback is one of the ways you can get their opinions on your products. It might sound old-fashioned, but it’s still being done, and it can give the customers more room to say what they want than a survey would. It can also allow for an honest conversation between the consumer and someone from the business to happen, and that will make the consumer feel valued, which is an added bonus.