If your business (bricks and mortar or virtual) is going to be successful in the long run, you must focus on serving your customer’s needs and desires. The essence of marketing rests on your clear understanding of your customer and delivering a unique product that he or she cannot get anywhere else.
A Customer Analysis helps you predict which items will appeal to your customers and make a dramatic impact on how you spend your advertising dollars. Do you have answers for the following checklist?
1. Who are your target customers and what are they seeking from you?
2. Have you profiled your customers by age, income, education, occupation, etc.?
3. Are you familiar with your customers’ lifestyles?
4. Should you try to appeal to the entire market or just a segment?
5. Are there new customer segments or special markets that deserve attention?
6. Do you know where your customers live?
7. Do you use census data from your city or state?
8. Are you aware of the reasons why customers shop with you? (Convenience, price, quality products, etc?)
9. Do you stress a special area of appeal such as lower prices, better quality, wider selection, convenient location or convenient hours?
10. Do you ask your customers for suggestions on ways to improve your operations?
11. Do you know what products your customers most prefer?
12. Do you know what seasons and holidays most influence your customers buying behavior?
13. Have you considered using customer questionnaires to help you in determining your customer’s needs?
14. Do you know at what other types of stores your customers shop?
15. Do you visit market shows and conventions to help anticipate customer wants?
And, finally, what do you do with this information? Just gathering data is not enough. The answers to the above questions will now give you the opportunity to make true management decisions about your business. You now need set your business goals based on the analysis of your customer. Reminder — make all goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, responsible (person), and with a timeline).
Marcia Bagnall is Director of the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center and instructor of Small Business Management Program . The Small-Business Adviser column is produced by the center and appears each Sunday. Questions can be submitted to SBDC@chemeketa.edu. Visit the SBDC at 626 High Street NE. in downtown Salem or call (503) 399-5088.