When you ask clients who their customers are, more often than not, they’ll say something along the lines of ‘we have a growing and diverse mix of customers’ or ‘our customers are represented across many different segments, there’s no typical customer for us’.
The problem with this is not zeroing in on the customers that either bring or have the potential to bring your business the greatest value. Using this approach, you essentially take a scatter gun approach to your business development and marketing efforts, which is a big (and costly) risk. Even if you get some initial wins on the board, do they lay the foundations for future growth with customers that are the most likely to have an ongoing relationship with your business?
So, how do we zero in on our primary customers, i.e. the ones that bring us the greatest chance for future (and ongoing) return on investment?
Research, research, research
Whether you’re looking at B2B or B2C market research, the fundamentals are the same. Market research helps you identify your key customers, what motivates them to buy products and services, how they make decisions on what they buy and where they source information/guidance that informs their decision making.21
You can go a step further and ask questions about your business or your competitors. What do they (current customers or market research participants) think about your business, its products and services? How do you compare to your competitors? Why have they used or chosen not to use your products and services in the past? What would need to change to use your business in the future?
From here, B2B and B2C market research moves into much different territory. Read more about this from the experts at B2B International here who provide a great run-down of the major differences in these disciplines.
Suffice to say, both types of research will tend to use data and analytics to produce market or industry segments to help businesses define their primary customers. The main point here is: market research is an important first step in defining your primary customer segments – and in turn, who to target in your marketing strategy – whether you’re a B2B or B2C business.
Test and test some more
Okay, now that you get a sense of who your customers are – how can you improve your products and services to target specific customer segments? Or to put it another way, what do you do with the outcomes from your market research? You’ve got all this great source material, what next?
Narrow down your primary customers to one or two segments (ideally). Use their insights to improve or perhaps develop new products and services. Test these products and services with primary customers.
What was the feedback? More work to do? Easy done. Make further refinements and test again if you need to – better to do it now before you start spending your marketing budget. Working? Great! You can kick-start spending some of your budget on production and/or promotion – depending on the type of product or service.
And… Take it from the top
This process is ongoing. You will need to look at investing in market research every couple of years and follow up with product testing to ensure you get the most out of your investment. This is generally determined by business performance and you don’t need to spend a massive amount on market research every time – you could be looking at one particular industry or customer segment in the next round of research. However, you might need to spend big to reinvigorate a product or service that is integral to your business – it all depends on your requirements.
If you’d like to bounce some ideas around with the Cuckoo team, our Marketing Strategists and Research Bods are here to help. Get in touch and we can help you get a better gauge on who your primary customers are, and how to use this information to execute a killer marketing strategy for your business – B2B, B2C and anything in between.