To Win Long Term, Know Your Customer Better

She’s 5’7”, drives an Audi A4, listens to NPR and Will.I.Am, watches Game of Thrones, has a master’s degree, has visited over 12 countries, and can present to an audience but still gets shy when asked: “What do you do?”  She’s an excellent project manager, but is still challenged selling herself.  She reads a few PDFs about what I do before I meet her.  There are 8 million of “her” in the U.S.  I’m not talking about my ideal girl; I’m talking about one segment of my ideal audience.

Knowing your customers is a crucial step, but even if you know them well, you still have to place a bet on where they are heading.  Remember the Apple vs. Flash war? Apple won.  Remember Kodak? (Those in Gen Z, born 1995 – 2012, may have never heard of them.)  Forbes contributor Alan Hall explains of Kodak:

In 2012, the venerable 124-year-old manufacturer of film and cameras filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following many consecutive years of negative financial returns.  As excited customers were celebrating the arrival of fantastic digital images and digital cameras, Kodak management stayed the course with its traditional film and camera lines.  Believing foolishly that its loyal customer base would never desert its famous products with the yellow and red logo, a somewhat arrogant leadership ignored Sony, Fuji and other innovative digital camera firms.

Today’s market is not only more educated, but has access to more information for decision support.  Daily Conversions shared a fascinating 2014 buyer behavior report from DemandGen.  Here are the top three takeaways.

The difference between B2C and B2B buyers:

1. While B2C buyers have aggressively adopted social media as a key information source for decision support, B2B buyers appear to strategically browse social media during their research, but turn more to web search for decision support.

Two big B2B distinctions:

2. B2B buyers are significantly more swayed by content, with nearly two-thirds of buyers indicating that it had a significant influence on a decision.

3. B2B buyers in 2014 took longer to purchase, but also engaged salespeople much later in the buying process.  In many cases, companies are disqualified from a purchase decision far before they are even aware of the opportunity.

So get clearer about who your customers are and how they buy.  Because if you do, well, Gregory Ciotti from Help Scout sums it up best:

Today’s consumers have access to an endless amount of information about your business, and research shows that they’re ready and willing to stop dating around and stick with companies who go above and beyond to create a fantastic customer experience.

Whether you’re playing in a B2B or B2C arena, draft a plan to know your customers better so that you can create a longer relationship, as well as a business for the long-term.

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