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5 Signs that you need to get closer to your customer

October 10, 2017

Customer insight remains a little bit of an enigma to many businesses. It’s a term that’s familiar but frequently misunderstood mainly because the benefits of getting closer to your customer have not been comprehensively and tangibly spelled out.  And so, the question often poses itself “would we benefit as a business with greater customer knowledge and if so how?”

More often than not the answer to this question is very close to home, you just don’t realize it. Here’s a quick 101 of some typical scenarios that may bring you some clarity:

Scenario 1: Lack of alignment

There are very different and opposing opinions within the business. Everyone has their own point of view, frequently not validated, which is making it difficult to reach agreement to define the company mission, vision and next steps

It’s not uncommon for teams to hold their own separate beliefs based on history with the business or their own personal preferences. Who hasn’t heard “my wife says…” in a meeting and had nothing with which to respond effectively? Without any understanding of the customer – their needs, desire, beliefs, motivations and behaviours - opinion is mere speculation. Finding some core customer truths around which to build agreement is the only way

Scenario 2: A declining audience / user-base

In an age of increasing competition and complexity, a declining audience or user-base will be a challenge experienced by many. But what to do? Who and what is behind this decrease and how can the flow be stemmed?

You only have to look to the high street to know that many brands are in a similar situation. Stories of falling sales are rife in the media. But without an understanding of why the customer is disconnecting from the brand, product or service, it’s almost impossible to know what to do about it. The answer to this question may indeed be simple but not knowing may just be the start of significant decline for your business.

Scenario 3: Poor performing messaging

A considerable part of the marketing budget has been spent on advertising your product or service, but the result has been under-whelming. For some reason the message didn’t land or lead to increased levels of activation

Not uncommon for a great piece of creative to fall on deaf ears. It had a good budget behind it but somehow the message didn’t break through. More often than not, this is as a consequence of the message failing to hinge on a core customer truth. Without knowing the dynamics of the market or having an intimate connection with the customer, it’s almost impossible to land a message which will resonate

Scenario 4: The promotional roller coaster

You’re feeling frustrated and disillusioned that you’re frequently trading at below 50% of RRP. You feel at the mercy of your distributors but have few weapons in your armoury with which to deliver a credible challenge. You’re constantly at loggerheads with your competitors and in the end, nobody is likely to win

A complex problem and one which can’t be easily solved. There’s a multitude of issues at play – lack of vision/strategy, lack of courage, doing what we’ve always done, not believing in the brand. But one of the most common is not really understanding what is or could potentially set you apart as a brand in your (potential) customers’ eyes. What do you currently or could you offer that will represent true value and get you off that promotional slippery slope? The question begins and ends with the customer. Simple as that. They are your compass to help you explore, define and build the future of your brand and its future commercial success

Scenario 5: An unsupported strategy for growth

Your business has been growing nicely, you’ve gone from a start up to a business of considerable stature. All this has been achieved by a strong idea and grit determination. But now you need to go to the next level to secure the next phase of growth. You know you need to build a longer-term strategy for the business including a marketing roadmap. The problem is you’re not sure where to start.

A good point of entry is with the customer. By understanding a little bit more about them and why they are currently buying into your brand / business you’ll have a better idea of how to service their needs in the future, thus enabling you to answer the fundamental WHO, WHAT, WHEN, HOW, WHY of any marketing plan

Hopefully this rings a few bells for some and provides a few thought starters to help navigate your way through the customer insight mire and into a position of greater clarity