How to create a customer – focused marketing strategy

The marketing greats of our time press home the fact that a customer or client-centric marketing strategy is the only way of building a successful long-term marketing programme.

Yet, as building such a strategy relies on ‘people knowledge’, it’s a wonder why market research is so often overlooked as a business disciplin.

In today’s noise obsessed world, market and customer research is often surpassed by busy professionals who are are far keener to get on with the (arguably) more exciting business of advertising, PR and promotion.

Of course figuring out what makes people tick isn’t going to be every business owner’s cup of tea. However, nothing will divert from the fact that this understanding is what’s going to help you meet the needs of your target audience more effectively than the competition. With the stresses and strains of running a business developing an understanding of your target market can easily slip down the list.

Shaping decisions

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you might well be more at home with innovation, operation, resourcing, selling, finance or even creative responsibilities, but to not pay enough attention to working out what drives your customer is a risky strategy indeed.

Because knowing your target customer will undoubtedly give you a competitive edge. You will be able find ways of meeting their needs more effectively than your competitors – and be able to focus your attention on selecting the right tactics, value propositions and channels when it comes to promoting what you do or sell.

Need some ideas? Here’s what to think about when looking to build a customer-centric marketing strategy:

  • Market size: When identifying your target market, make sure it is large enough to accommodate your business objectives. It also needs to be well defined. Not all people in the market for a photographer will be looking for a wedding photographer, so segmenting your universe will give you an idea of the true market potential and size. Furthermore, the amount of competition will impact how much market share you are ever likely to win.
  • Market potential: Is your target market responsive? Does it have a long lifetime value for your business.? Knowing this will guide you into how much to invest in attracting the business you need from a particular target market and shape your long-term strategy.
  • Your product: You love your product or service – and your friends and family do as well. But this isn’t sound enough evidence to base your business plan on. This is when competition is a good thing: It shows there is demand for what you do so you only need concentrate on supplier it better in order to gain a competitive edge. However, if you have a brand new idea, it’s important to hold focus groups, conduct research via interviews and do an honest assessment of the environment before forging on with your plans.
  • The proposition: Different market segments may require different value propositions, so make sure you get to know what your product or service can mean to each target. Your electric bike might help a business person get home from work quicker, but then again it might provide a less able-bodied person with a way of getting out of the house and staying fit. Two segments that will potentially want your bike, but for two very different reasons.
  • The price: When it comes to pricing, there are a lot of factors to consider. But be careful not to make assumptions on what people may or may not pay. You may target rich households with your cleaning service, but that isn’t to say they will gladly pay more than the going rate. Furthermore, what hard up student wouldn’t be willing to pay a premium price for a pair of trainers? Pricing is an area that needs careful consideration and thought so look at the evidence before opting for the right pricing strategy – rather than simply going with your gut.
  • The point of sale place: You might be resisting the trend to put your shop online, but if that’s where the customers are, then that’s where you should go. Or, if you have a store that sells furniture, are you helping your customers by providing a loading bay outside the door of your shop? As a business owner, you need to facilitate the sale at every single point and the place at which you sell your product or service plays a very important part in that. Make it easy to buy from you – and you will be rewarded in return.

Could you use some help when it comes to defining your target market and building a customer-centric business?

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