Understanding Your Customer

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Becoming and Entreprenuer

First Steps to Better Understanding Your Customer

As an Entrepreneur with a new idea, the number one thing you can do to increase your chances of success is to get a understanding your customer. It helps to know some personally, or to have come from amongst their ranks. Minus that personal connection, you are wise to dive in and get to know their frustrations, pain, joys, successes and daily routines. Anything that will give you an insight into an opportunity missed.

Understanding Your Customer - First 3 Steps:

What are the first steps to gaining the better understanding of your customer?

  1. Research - Google is your friend. I am often amazed at how much knowledge about a market can be assembled quite rapidly with appropriate use of Google Search. A few years back I compiled a comprehensive list of every retailer in the USA that carried a particular sports equipment category. It took me the better part of a day, however that list allowed me to develop the contacts necessary to build a decent sized wholesale business. Start out your research by determining who your customers might be. If retail, get an idea of forums, blogs and podcasts your consumers frequent. If B2B assemble your list.
  2. Interviews - Once I have a known list of potential customers it is time to locate a few who are willing to go out for lunch or coffee and talk about their hopes and dreams. What pain are they facing? What is hard to do? Are their tools or services they wish existed? Have a well thought out list of questions you want to answer. I find it is often easier to just get them talking about their business or if direct retail, then their daily lives, and then ask clarifying questions.
  3. Use the Competition - Find a way to get your hands on the competitions products or services. You need to understand their features, strengths and weaknesses and the best way to gain that is to actually use it.

As a future topic I will delve into the tricks I use to really leverage Google search to better understand customers. Each of these first 3 steps should be a full blown podcast or post, and I am all but certain you have questions. I would love to hear them, so leave a comment and I will do my best to answer.