Questions to ask when creating an exchange with customers
November 17, 2011
Don't assume that just because the economy stinks that it's impossible to start a successful business or even grow one. There's always a market - the trick is finding a way to effectively tap into it. Essentially, this means entrepreneurs - regardless of their idea, industry or professional backgrounds - need to know their customers.
What kind of person or organization would buy your product or service? Why would they opt for your offerings over the competition? How can you target these groups and makes sales?
What we're talking about here is essentially an exchange - a conversation. You are talking about a specific idea with your prospects, pitching its advantages and learning about their needs and desires in the process. But even if you're a solo venture, you can'y rely on this conversation alone - you need to conduct some research.
"While you probably know your potential customers in a general way, there's a lot you don't know that could help you market yourselves to them," writes Brett Taylor for the website Youngentrepreneur. "A little extra research will go a long way to informing the look-and-feel, messaging strategy and outreach initiatives that you will want to develop."
Similarly, you need to be careful about how you impart your message and branding strategy. Consider how your company is perceived - visually, publicly, behaviorally and even audibly.
"Build on your name and use your customer knowledge to create an image that speaks both to the needs of your customers and to the personality of your company," Taylor adds. "Establish a vibrant palette of colors and typefaces. Design a logotype. Coordinate photography and/or imagery."
Then consider how these individual items collaborate to create an overall brand image. Is it consistent? Does it flow? These questions are all critical to maintaining a solid exchange with your prospects. An inconsistent or uneven brand message can be a turn-off to customers - whether consciously or not.
If you're still stuck about how to portray your organization, think personally. How would you want to be depicted? What is your individual voice and how can you channel your own style and personality into your products and marketing efforts? Sometimes looking inward is the best way to sell outwardly.