I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to business owners or marketers about who their customers are and they’ve never picked up a phone and talked to one of their customers.That’s a problem, because you can’t get to know your customers if you never take the time to actually sit down and chat with them. And, if you don’t have a good feel for your customers, your marketing won’t ring true for them.
Sure, you might be able to do okay business without truly knowing your customers, but if you want great results, you’re going to have to put on your big boy or girl pants and talk to your damn customers!
Stop Making Assumptions
I once witnessed a company go through a complete rebrand. They did user testing, through a third party company, comparing their old branded website vs competitor’s websites vs the new branded website.
In user testing the new branded website beat out the old brand and the competitor’s website 99% of the time. All of the employees loved the new branded website as well. Everything seemed like a huge win in preliminary testing. And then, the new branded website launched and revenues dropped by 80%…overnight. But why?
The average customer age was 12 years older than the average employee and tester. The first thing I did when they brought me in was talk to the top 50 customers. No surprise. Everyone hated the new brand and said everything felt more expensive now, even though prices didn’t change.
Stop getting fancy with assumptions. Pick up the phone and get to know your customers. Get to know their kid’s names, what they like to do, who they are as people, and sure, get to know what social networks they use, what groups they’re apart of, what websites they visit, etc. Once you understand that, then get fancy with some demographic and psychographic data.
Getting to Know Your Customers is a Journey
Now, if we’re being practical here, you’re probably not going to open up the conversation by asking your customer what their kid’s names are. You’ll need to work your way into it.
Breaking the Ice
I always like to send a short email thanking them for their loyalty, follow up on their recent purchase and then ask if they have 10 minutes during the following days to talk about their experience with your brand.
Now that you’ve scheduled a phone call, now comes the fun part. If you’ve personalized your picture(s) or video(s), you’ll have a great icebreaker. I also wouldn’t use this first phone call to try to get everything in. This is just step one and one of many times you’ll be talking.
Ask questions that help you understand what they’re passionate about. It’s easy and natural for people to talk about their passions. This usually will come full circle back to your brand. Then ask your 2 or 3 questions.
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Customer Ambassador Program
The next thing I would do is create a Customer Ambassador Program. The purpose of this program is to create a community and collaborate with your top customers. Perks of your program could be product testing, early access to launches, etc. In return, this new community becomes your sounding board. These customers are going to buy from you no matter what, so focus on making them a bigger part of the brand.
I’ve even seen one company fly out their Customer Ambassadors every year to do a retreat, have fun and review their vision for the company. Like I said, this is a journey. Don’t try to get too ahead of yourself. Yes, getting to an annual retreat with your Customer Ambassadors is an awesome goal. But to get there, start by showing some gratitude, getting a couple of questions answered and sprinkling in some customer culture.
If you want real results from your marketing, you have to get to know the real people that you’re marketing to. The only way to do that is to pick up a phone and talk to your damn customers!
Once you do, don’t be surprised if your customers aren’t quite who you thought they were. They are people, with hopes, dreams, goals, fears and concerns that you can only guess at…until you actually start talking to them.