How well do you know your customers? You probably know what a particular customer bought from you last year and what they may be interested in this year. You may know their business is growing, that they are hiring new employees. You have a forecast for items they will buy for the next 12 months. You may even have a plan for ways to get them to buy more, higher priced products.
That said do you really know your customers? What are they worried about? What is keeping them up at night? Where is there pain? How can you help them?
I didn’t ask what you can sell them. Rather how can you help them? The answer more often than not is to give them information they need and want with minimal cost in an convenient way.
In this world of 24/7 information how are you differentiating yourself from your competitor? In the past companies pushed information on their customers. For example buy my product/service. It is better, less expensive, faster etc. In the world today customers have the power. They will pull information from vendors they are interested in when they need it. They often don’t want to know about products and services (at least at first). They want to know the answer to their problem. They want to sleep better at night.
So how do you differentiate yourself in this very crowded world?
The winners are the ones that make themselves relevant to their customers. They deliver something that is wanted and needed by prospects and customers. They educate their community. They help them sleep at night. In return these customers will return and ask for more. Trust increases. Opportunities to sell increase.
The winners educate their community then allow those satisfied customers to help them build their brand.
One of my clients is a company that offers consulting services on quality systems to companies in the medical device and pharmaceutical fields. A key customer of theirs is the Vice President of Quality in targeted companies. We found through research (usually just asking the question) that in many cases he or she is losing sleep because they are worried about how to prepare for and respond to a future audit by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Educate the community – Instead of discussing how their consulting services were better than their competitors my client partnered with a not for profit trade organization and held a workshop where they discussed how to react from the time the FDA showed up at your door to the time they left. They provided examples of how best in class companies were handling and surviving the process. They distributed check lists for Quality departments to judge themselves on. One of the most important pieces was they made it easy for attendees to contact their experts with questions. Finally they provided all of this information for no charge.
There were over 150 individuals that attended the seminar. Over 90% of the individuals gave the presentation an excellent rating. Over half of these individuals downloaded additional information. A positive relationship was started.
Build your Brand. – A key to differentiating your brand from your competitors is to be top of mind on your core area of interest. My client’s goal is to be top of mind in the area of FDA audits in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry. During the seminar they were not selling anything directly. What they were doing was helping the leaders of their community (the VP of Quality) solve a pain that they had. In many cases those individuals appreciated the information and shared it with others in their company. The goal is to continue nurturing these individuals with relevant and wanted information. In return those leaders will recommend my client to others as a leader in the field and hopefully give them business down the road.
Understand your customer. Understand their pain, what is keeping them up at night. Educate your community (with no strings attached) and allow them to build your brand.
Until next time – all the best!