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Deep buyer insights help attract, maintain customers

Markets are evolving rapidly, and customer preferences shift constantly. Whether you’re a founder forging new paths or an established business owner navigating familiar terrain, a fundamental question should be top of mind daily for every business owner: Are you giving your customers what they want?

A recent Startup Study Hall at Innovatemap gave The Startup Ladies much-needed time and space to think about how to answer that important question. Product marketing experts Lauren Shomaker and Leanna Adeola explained that the only true way for a company to know the answer for sure is to go directly to the decision makers and listen. Assumptions be damned. “Buyer insights” are the keys to sustaining and expanding the customer base.

Shomaker advocated for a deeper investment of time and resources in unraveling the intricacies of customer needs and preferences. Soliciting feedback from customers fosters a symbiotic relationship that engenders mutual growth and evolution. Since customers vary, entrepreneurs should customize communication to suit each group’s unique needs and priorities.

The term “customer development” is also used to describe this fact-finding mission before the launch of a product or service. When collecting customer feedback while developing a concept for a new business, this process helps founders identify first customers. Connecting with current customers helps to retain them and, in some cases, upgrade their spend.

To effectively engage with customers, Adeola focused on the imperative of resonance—aligning product offerings with customer priorities. This includes understanding what customers want and need while articulating the value proposition in a manner that resonates with their evolving needs and aspirations. Current customer feedback informs both the positioning and marketing of the product or service.

Adeola explained the distinction between product positioning and product marketing, delineating their roles in the journey from product conception to market penetration. Product positioning, she said, orchestrates the strategic differentiation of a product amid competitors, sculpting its identity in the minds of target consumers. Product marketing coordinates the tactical execution of promotional efforts, transforming strategic positioning into tangible campaigns that resonate with the intended audience.

Crafting a compelling narrative demands an intimate understanding of the target audience. Adeola encouraged entrepreneurs to dive into the psyche of their ideal customers to glean insights into their desires, pain points and aspirations. A good first step for business owners is to answer these three questions.

Who are your ideal customers?

You’re not selling to everyone. You’re selling to clearly defined groups of people. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, income level, interests, values and pain points.

What do customers care about most right now?

You might think you know; however, you don’t know for sure until you hear it directly from current and future customers. Design surveys or polls to gather insights quickly. Ask people about their current needs, preferences and pain points. Keep the surveys concise and consider offering incentives to encourage participation.

Pay attention to conversations happening on social media platforms related to your industry or niche. Look for trends, hashtags and keywords that indicate what topics are currently resonating with your target audience. Use tools like Google Trends to track search volume for relevant keywords and topics. This can help you identify emerging trends and topics of interest to your target audience.

What makes the product or service valuable right now?

Time changes people. After you collect feedback from current/prospective customers, assess how your product or service stacks up against competitors’ in terms of features, pricing, quality and customer experience. Identify gaps in the market where your offering can provide unique value or differentiate itself from competitors.

By answering these questions, entrepreneurs can tailor their products and services to align with the specific needs and preferences of their target market. However, understanding customer wants is just the beginning; delivering value that resonates with them is equally vital.

Customer needs change, so the value proposition of a product or service must undergo constant iteration to remain pertinent in the eyes of consumers. Success hinges on the ability to adapt and innovate in response to changing market dynamics.

Like Adeola said, “In order to sell effectively, companies have to stay in tune with what matters to customers right now.” So, are you giving your customers what they want? It’s time to listen, learn and meet the current needs of your customers.

*This article was originally published in the Indianapolis Businesss Journal on May 24, 2024.


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