So you’ve launched a company. The shingle has been hung and the door is open. Your logo is on the letterhead, your website is online and you’ve started creating awareness. And, although you know that many if not most new companies take some time to ramp up and attract customers, things are going a bit more slowly than you anticipated; maybe even much more slowly. Any ideas why this is happening?
Maybe you don’t quite understand your customers’ needs.
To be successful in business requires two things: buyers and sellers. As the seller, it’s your responsibility to understand how the buyers make purchasing decisions. In classic marketing this is called identifying their pain points or recognizing the problems for which they need solutions. Often, companies provide products or services predicated on what they think customers want. But unless they know for sure, it could be a big waste of time and money. This is a very real concern for companies of all types, from start-ups to long-established entities.
As Suman Sarkar, a partner at Three S Consulting, writes, “Studies show that as companies become more prominent, leaders become more distant from customers. They spend more time managing the organization and investors, less time with customers. They believe their role ends with training employees. A 2017 HBR survey of 1,000 CEOs found that, on average, CEOs spend 10 percent of their time with clients, 7 percent with suppliers and the rest with internal groups.”
It’s important to gain an in-depth understanding of customers’ needs. Sam Mizrahi, president and founder of Mizrahi Developments, a Toronto real estate development firm that builds properties for the glamour market, knows this firsthand. Long before he entered the real estate industry, he founded and grew a chain of more than 100 high-end dry cleaning shops that served discriminating customers across the Toronto area. By interacting with his customers, he got to know them, their habits, and their wants.
Today, Mizrahi is midway through building The One, an 85-story luxury residential tower in downtown Toronto. His knowledge of the high-end market is dictating how the new tower is being built with his target audience in mind.
Mizrahi believes that luxury is something you feel when you walk in, and that no matter the product, it should embody happiness and enjoyment. He notes the importance of looking for luxury in the details, including the architecture, amenities, high-end features and other items.
In recent years, the term “customer experience” has become popular, in large part because the product or service you’re providing is the cornerstone of the experience that the customer will have. Perhaps nowhere is a positive customer experience something to strive for than in the technology industry, where experiences can often change on a daily basis based on improvements in user interface, connectivity, interactivity, and even the simple fun of using a device, app or software product.
Sharon John is president and CEO of the Build-A-Bear Workshop, which offers what the company calls the “only interactive, make-your-own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience”. She says that, “‘Adding a little more heart to life’ is our mission statement, and that folds into everything we do, but it is by allowing children of all ages to be empowered and engaged to build an emotional connection with our brand beyond a stuffed animal that drives our guest experience model.”
According to John, it’s the emotional moments that have enabled the company’s success. Those moments, she says, can eventually allow the company to evolve into new areas of revenue.
No matter what type of company you own or are planning to start, it’s crucial to always place the customers’ needs, wants and desires first. Know your customers better than they know themselves. First and foremost, talk to them. Conduct focus groups and demographic and psycho graphic analysis. Understand who they are and why they want or need what they do. By doing this you’ll not only place your company in a position to achieve success, but you’ll also be better equipped to address their future needs.