As the owner of a small business, understanding your customer can be key to creating new connections and improving retention. Simply put, you probably already have a fairly good demographic idea of who your customers are: this helps you market effectively to the right people and make them the focus of many critical decisions that relate to your business.
Getting to Know Your People
In the digital/social age, the unique voices, opinions and experiences of individual customers can have immediate and powerful effect on your business. In light of this, it may not be the best idea to create a composite or “Joe average” customer and base assumptions around the mean value of their key traits. Surely, these generic “personas,” often based on age, income and location, have an abstract value in terms of pinning down high level objectives (especially for marketing.) However, small businesses may also stand to gain from understanding how their individual customers live, work and make decisions socially and technologically. Not to say that we advocate being online creepers…
In 2011, Google rather famously called this kind of understanding the “Zero Moment of Truth.” In essence, they envision a world in which businesses are digitally “present” to provide solutions to consumers in the immediate moments that matter to them the most. Think of it this way: a driver is highly unlikely to think about which automotive repair shop will do the quickest job of fixing their engine until the moment that the engine breaks down. Can your business be there for them when it does?
Your small business has a head start in this process. You thrive on making connections with customers, and providing products and services with the kind of personalized approach and style that distinguishes independent businesses. Thus, your business can come to understand its customers as more than an aggregate compilation of demographics – rather, they can be seen as diverse cross-section of your community.