Five ways to understand your customers

Grow your business faster with these five tips for small businesses to better understand their customers.

There’s been a lot written about the importance of deeply understanding your customers. It seems pretty obvious – really understanding your customer means that your products and services sell themselves; you save money due to fewer customer complaints and your customers are significantly more likely to refer others. This video summarises it nicely. There’s lots of hype out there about things like big data; A/B testing; active social listening; customer journey mapping and developing buyer personas. In small business, this can be hard when you don’t have mountains of resources at your fingertips and aren’t in a hurry to sign up for hours of design thinking training.

There’s still a lot that small businesses can do with a bit of determination and motivation. Here’s our top five suggestions for understanding your customers. We have even popped in a pretty Infographic for you to stick on your wall. These are the types of things that you would do during the Target stage of Ignitzee's Fast Start Framework.

1. Actually talk to them

I get it. The thought of talking to random strangers freaks me out most days. Things like networking events, interacting via social media, markets, trade shows and conferences. Once it’s clear that you aren’t doing a hard sell, most potential customers are more than happy to share what makes them tick.

2. Observe them

We aren’t talking going creepy stalker on them. But, human nature seems to be that we say and what we do can be two different things. We like to think that we make purchases based on logic, but emotion is a huge component even if we won’t admit to it on. Watching how your customers behave before, during and after they make a purchase gives you a view of how they really roll. If you are observing them in the wild, just make sure that you blend in 😉 Online tools such as Hotjar work well too...

3. Create a focus group

Everyone loves free stuff. A focus group of people who have access to your products and services gratis gives you an opportunity to ask all kinds of questions that you are dying to have answers to. How much would you really be willing to pay? What would stop you from handing over your hard-earned cash? Consider how you can design this in a way that they don’t think as a group and feel safe to be honest about what they liked and didn’t like about their experience.

4. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Think of it as a ‘day in the life’. Think about all of the steps that happen around purchasing your products and services:

  • Pre-purchase - Why do they buy? What event triggers them to hand over their hard-earned cash? What research do they do beforehand? Is it an impulse buy or do they spend lots of time researching first?

  • During the purchase - How easy is it for them to buy? Consider methods of payment;

  • After the purchase - What support do they expect after they buy? What needs to be in place for them to recommend your products and services to friends?

5. Research your customers

Data is hard to come by when you are just starting up as you won’t typically have years of customer transactions that you can analyse. JFGI comes to mind here… Some of the places that we like to research are:

  • Market specific reports. Sources like Euromonitor, are great but are hella expensive. Try your state library to get your mitts on these without handing over any coin.

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics. Disclosure here – I’m not a statistics genius so I tend to look for reports where the lovely boffins at the ABS have done the analysis via google rather than trying to make sense of the raw data. Each to their own?

  • Google Trends. Nobody wants to start a business in a dying industry. You can get lots more insights than just comparing searches by Taylor Swift versus Kim Kardashian by region. *Mind blown* People in Pinjarra are only searching for Taylor but not Kim whereas Mandurah is all about Kim…

We are also on the journey of understanding our customers

Our goal is to deeply understand what stops small business owners from getting started and from growing their businesses. If you are in Perth, we’d love to shout you a coffee (or wine!) to listen – just shout out. If that’s not your thing, we are also looking for beta testers for our Fast Start Framework that helps you start and grow your business. Just flick us an email for more details -

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