“Deciphering” your consumer, an endless puzzle
Tools for identifying your customers’ needs and power up your operation
One of the most important elements in the success of a new business is understanding who the consumer of your product or service is and what that consumer needs, not just in order to be happy with their purchase, but also so they will gravitate back to your business.
“Deciphering” the consumer may be an endless puzzle that requires you to develop strategies that combine disciplines ranging from data analysis and marketing to anthropology.
It also requires looking at the world through your customers’ eyes.
“Today’s consumers have changed dramatically in how they choose to work with the companies and brands they patronize,” says digital strategist Jure Klepic in an article for the Huffington Post. “They have different backgrounds and cultural foundations, receive and process information in new ways, and want to interact on a more personal level. Businesses and marketers that do not search for consumer insights will not be able to connect or engage with prospects customers.”
That is why one of the first recommendations that Sebastián Vidal, executive director of the startup accelerator Parallel 18, makes to emerging entrepreneurs is that they generate strategies for opening a channel of constant, ongoing communication.
“If I lose the customer’s ear, what I’m doing is losing market trends and the consumer’s needs,” he explains.
The most successful businesses also make sure to sell not just products, but experiences, whether through customer service or the product itself, Vidal says.
Paul Schoemaker, former research director at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, recommends going through a customer’s experience with your company.
“Track key customers’ experiences as they traverse your company’s pathways and note where the experience breaks down,” he writes in an article for the magazine Inc. “Try role-playing exercises at all points of the customer’s experience with your company.”
Vidal, too, suggests that entrepreneurs stay abreast of market trends and anticipate their direct and alternate competitors’ moves.
What’s the competition doing? How can I improve that offer in order to attract customers?
You can do that through marketing studies or database analyses or, in a more cost-efficient way, you can do it with experiments in the social media or on landing pages.
“That is more economical than paying a consultant to do an old-school marketing study for you. Today, there are quicker and less expensive option that will allow you to understand what the consumer wants,” says the executive director of Parallel 18.
He also stresses how important it is for entrepreneurs to get out on the street, not just to talk to possible customers but also to businesses in their own industry. This will help minimize risks and create a product that both fills a void in the industry and is profitable.
That, as Schoemaker says, is “staying ahead of the market,” anticipating the future.
“Focus on what consumers will want tomorrow,” he argues. “Try to envision different futures through tools like scenario planning and then explore how underlying market shifts may affect your customers.”
Banco Popular of Puerto Rico (“Popular”) holds no affiliation or relation to the individuals or entities mentioned in this article. This article is for informative purposes only, and is in no way an endorsement or guarantee of its accuracy. Neither Popular nor any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or related entities are, or will be held liable for any special, direct, or indirect, damages, resulting from the information contained in this article.