In order to more effectively understand your customers needs and your competition there are a few elements to process. There are a number of different sources but the most promising ideas come from fully understanding your customers’ needs.
This is something that should be done continuously and should be regarded as “work in progress”. Understanding what customers want, where they want it, how they want it and at what price, is information that will go a long way to creating ongoing opportunities for your business.
Here are a few tips to help you get to know your customers and competitors more deeply.
Key questions to ask about your customers
Identify Customer Segments
As you conduct a customer analysis identify consumer segments that share common characteristics. These will most likely include demographic factors such as age, gender, level of education, income bracket, occupation, area of residence as well as softer variables such as lifestyle and values.
Evaluate Consumer Motivation
Researching customer motivation can be a particularly fruitful source of information. As Scott Anthony, co-author of the book “Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today’s Business while Creating the Future”, describes in the Harvard Business Review, that just by simply asking, “what is the customer trying to get done?” can reveal both the frustrations and desires that drive the buying process.
Do a Competitor Analysis
Knowing who your competitors are and taking a hard look at their strengths and weaknesses is another essential step than can help determine your growth strategies and provide you with vital information on ways to differentiate your product or service.
Consider your Indirect Competition as Well
It’s also worth looking closely at your indirect competitors. For example, airlines may want to consider how else people travel long distances (bus or train eg) and how they can influence potential passengers to take a plane instead. Southwest’s low cost airline service in America attracted people with highly competitive pricing who would otherwise take a bus or even not travel at all.
So, just pitching your wares and hoping for the best is clearly not good enough in today’s highly competitive market place. Researching both your customers and your competitors will undoubtedly give you the edge!