What’s the most important asset your business has? It's customers! Without understanding the people who’s money keeps the wheels of your company turning, you’ll soon find yourself in dire straits. No matter what sector you operate in, how great your product or service or what great content you’re serving up on Instagram, if knowing your customers is not at the heart of your marketing strategy then at some point, everything is going to grind to a halt. It’s the fundamental principle of business success which is too often overlooked in the daily whirl of chasing invoices, replying to emails and shipping out product, and yet revisiting the basic guiding principles is absolutely crucial. If you don’t understand who your business is talking to, inside out, then you can’t possibly make the choices you need to in order to attract sales and retain customer loyalty. So make it your mission to live and breathe what your customer needs. Here’s how to get started….
Doing your market research in advance is vital to make sure that your product and marketing are in line with the expectations and wants of your target demographic. There are lots of tools at your disposal during this phase - from things like ACORN profiling to segment your audience to persona development. Census information can also be really helpful at determining key bits of information when you’ve worked out a demographic. You could also try strategies such as social listening, which lets you tap into opinions pre-launch, or using focus groups or website polls to canvass opinion on specific topics. Always make sure that you take a data-driven approach, but also that you are sourcing that data from a range of different sources to counterbalance any bias inherent in a single source. There are also useful tools such as Demographics Pro, which will pull out information about your followers on social media into an easy-to-understand infographic format. This can make it much easier to develop tailored marketing programs for different customer segments - understanding what offers or brand tie-ups might appeal to them, knowing which channels are best for reaching them, even down to understanding which influencers you could work with to target the right customers.
We operate in a truly global marketplace, and although that gives us many more opportunities to connect with customers and expand our audience base, it also means that it's much harder to get and maintain visibility with customers. It’s always a good idea to keep one eye on what your competitors are up to. Critically evaluate their new developments, the branding and messaging that they use, their image selection and website design and the channels that they are present on. It also helps to keep an eye on companies outside of your sector too - sometimes the best ideas are ones that have worked elsewhere and can be adapted for your own purposes. Certain taste-making companies also have the ability to set trends which surface in many different industries - think Apple and Google - so they should always be on your radar as well.
These days, the reach your company can have internationally is huge - but you need to make sure that your website is set up for global business. It's not enough to merely add a translation widget to the navigation of your site - you need to make sure that everything is professionally translated by a firm who understands meaning and nuance - for this reason, it's always better to go with someone who can specifically do, say, a legal transcription job, than it is to go for something generic. If you have e-commerce, make sure you also include an API which lets customers shop in their home currency, and display full amounts with shipping and taxes well before they get to the final checkout, or you’re likely to encounter a high rate of cart abandonment. Make your website truly welcoming for international visitors and your sales are likely to benefit. The same goes for accessibility. Make sure that your site is optimized for accessibility, including text contrast, minimum font size and using plain English terms. These things have a triple benefit - not only do they help those using screen readers, but research proves that all web consumers prefer clear layouts and easy to understand language. In addition to that, search engine algorithms prioritize and reward clearly written content, meaning your site is likely to appear higher up the search rankings as well. It's a win win situation, meaning that it should be prioritized.