If you do, then growing your business will be like pushing a boulder up a hill – with your left hand tied behind your back!
Firstly, even if ‘everyone’ has the potential to use your product or service, not everyone WANTS to use your product or service, and even if they DO want to, they don’t all want to use it NOW!
The quickest (and easiest) way to grow your business is to focus on finding those prospective customers who WANT what you offer and want it NOW.
And the only way you can do that is to FOCUS.
So where do you start?
To develop a profile of your prospective customers, the best place to start is with your EXISTING customers.
(Even if you are a start-up business, you can use this same process.)
Look at the people who have bought from you before, and ask yourself these questions…
- WHY did they buy from me?
- What EXACTLY did they buy?
- When in their ‘business cycle’ did they buy?
- What did they buy BEFORE they bought my product or service?
- What did they buy AFTER they bought my product or service?
If you look at the answers to these simple questions, it can give you an excellent idea of where you fit in to the process for your customers.
(If you can’t answer any of the questions, then ASK your customers!)
Next, you need to realise that there are going to be other businesses out there who are also going to need your products or services, who match the criteria you’ve just mapped out.
Once you have done that, you need to work out WHERE your prospective customers hang out, to be able to get your message in front of them.
Look at the answer to the questions…
1) Why did they buy from me?
Why did they buy from you and not one of your competitors? What did you do or say during the buying process that persuaded them to buy from you? What were their NEEDS just before they bought from you?
e.g. A business owner looking to optimise their website may choose one web designer over another because the business owner perceives them to be SEO experts based on the message they give in their marketing.
2) What EXACTLY did they buy?
Look at what products or services they bought from what you offer. Are there any particular products or services which seem to do better than the others? Why should that be?
e.g. A branding specialist and graphic designer might find that people are only interested in having a logo, some business cards and business stationery, not a full brand development, even though they need it!
3) When in their ‘business cycle’ did they buy?
Timing plays a massive part in the business cycle, and is the one thing we cannot take control of.
e.g. An accountant might find that he picked up new year end accounts work 3 months before the year end.
4) What did they buy BEFORE they bought my product or service?
What products or services do people need before they can use your product or service? Or even, what needs to happen before?
e.g. An IT consultant may need a certain infrastructure in place, or a crisis to have occurred for them to sell a particular solution.
5) What did they buy AFTER they bought my product or service?
As with what they bought before, you should look at what they need to buy after buying from you. Who you create a customer for, once they have bought from you?
e.g. A company might well need printing to produce a series of campaigns after a marketing consultant has delivered a strategy.
If you are a start-up business, you may well be asking “What if I don’t have existing clients to analyse? What if I don’t have customers to ask?”
Then the same questions and process apply, but instead of asking customers, you have two options:
- Survey POTENTIAL customers
- Take an educated guess!
Creating a survey online – using a tool such as Survey Monkey – is a very effective way of gathering the information you are after, and you can also use Twitter, Facebook or other Social Media options to drive visitors to your survey.
If there is something preventing you from doing that, think about each of the products or services you are intending to offer, and work out when would be the optimum time for a customer to buy them – having a starting point based on an educated guess is better than not starting at all!
If you analyse why customers buy, you will be a long way towards understanding the market you are targeting, and how to get your message in front of them.
If you would like to share any of your personal experiences, observations or the results you’ve achieved using these or similar tips, please leave your comments and/or thoughts below. I always love to hear from you: