Knowing more about your ideal customers, what they want and what you can offer to meet these wants means that:
- You can make sure you target all your benefits at your customers
- All your marketing messages address problems you know your customers would like to have solved
- Your prices are right for your target customers as they perceive they are getting good value for money
- Your service is of (or above) the standard your customers expect
- You can offer packages and incentives that relate to your customers’ attitudes and interests
- You can set your USP (unique selling proposition) to appeal directly to your target market – either creating an affinity with them or demonstrating that you know exactly what they want
- You can position your ‘brand’ correctly, so that it appeals to your customers. I use the term brand loosely to cover your whole image, and what you represent to your customers, the way your staff interact with customers, and the way you communicate.
You need to have an image of your ideal customers in mind every time you start any activity for your business. It helps to create a mental picture of your customer and visualise him or her on the receiving end of your services, products or offer or responding to any of your marketing.
Whichever category it is, be very clear about who your customers are. The more specific your niche the easier it is to appeal to what they want and to attract their attention.
Understand your customers’ WINE list **
Years ago I was introduced to the concept of the customers’ WINE list ** copyright Thameside International. You will never be able to serve or market effectively to your customers unless you really understand their WINE list**. WINE stands for:
Look at everything from your customers’ perspective. The more you know and understand the easier it will be to meet their expectations, give them exactly what they want to win new business as well as create repeat and referral business.
There’s a difference between what people need and what they want. The best way to illustrate this is to think of what happens when you go shopping. What you might actually need is a pair of comfortable hard wearing shoes that you can wear every day for work. However what you want is something that is stylish, and maybe a little unusual, and you end up buying something that is anything but the sensible shoes you set out to buy! Or how often have you come home from a supermarket shopping trip with far more than you intended buy? We might only need something for dinner, but it’s very easy to get tempted by some other things which when we see them we want them, and are often prepared to pay a premium. Think how often you come home with chocolate biscuits, a nice bottle of wine or flowers, none of which you intended to buy. Or you succumb to a special offer on something you wouldn’t normally buy because the offer is so good it tempts you to give it a try.
Don’t assume that you know what they want; your customers’ wants, interests, needs and expectations may be very different from your own.
Determine what your customers want and are looking for when they come to you. What are their likes and dislikes, and other factors that may subconsciously determine their decision? Things such as comfort, the setting, feeling that they have something in common with other guests or staff.
Identify your customers’ highest priorities. What are the things they are particularly looking for and might therefore be prepared to pay a premium? What criteria do they use to assess these? For example, if value for money is important, what factors do they consider when determining value for money? The better you understand these the easier it will be for you to get their attention?
Understanding what’s of interest to your target audience is a great way to not only get their attention but also to build rapport. Even if they are not looking out specifically for something that appeals to their interests, if you can offer it, you’ll get them hooked. E.g. if you’re an outdoor attraction and people come to you to expel energy and get some exercise (what they want), if you’re able to talk about or show them something that’s of interest (e.g. wildlife or something educational for the children) that’s an added bonus. Understanding people’s interests may help identify areas where they are willing to spend a little extra.
Needs might not be specified or consciously considered but might be a pre requisite, such as be location or facilities. So with a hotel for example someone might only need a roof over their head, a bed, shower and a meal, within a specific budget, but they want an experience, to relax, feel pampered, to have beautiful surroundings, entertainment, etc.
Expectations are seldom stated as there’s almost an assumption that these will be delivered, and might only be highlighted if they are absent. Such things as safety, cleanliness, good service, being appreciated, or consistency only come to a customer’s attention when they are lacking.
Bear in mind that your different customer groups may have very different WINE lists; there may be a few shared requirements, but by analysing what each of your different groups are looking for you can then target your offer, messages and service accordingly.
And – if you really want to understand your customers – you must ask them. Even if you’ve been running your business for a long time bear in mind that your customers’ expectations change which means you could find yourself being left behind. So never stop asking questions and listening to feedback from your customers to fully understand what’s important to them, what they need and what they want.
Customer satisfaction starts with knowing their wants, their interests, their needs and their expectations. Understand these and you’re well on the way to being able to capture the attention of your customers over and above that of your competition.
Exceed these and you’re on track for increasing customer spend, getting repeat business and developing long term loyalty.
** The WINE list is copyright to Thameside International. Special thanks to Thameside for allowing me to use this term