By Guest Author Eric Holtzclaw
The 1st most common problem is the business owner. They just can’t give up control and end up doing things they should hire others to do. That’s why I love LAN Systems because the services they offer allow business owners to do what I encourage them to do when I coach them – fire themselves. By letting LAN Systems take over the day to day operations of your technology, you take an important step toward focusing on building your business, not working in it.
And the 2nd most common problem?
Few companies know who their customer is, and because of that, they aren’t doing what they need to support their customer’s likelihood to select their business over their competitor or to keep their customer happy over the long term.
This lack of first-hand customer knowledge causes companies to make broad, non-informed guesses about how to service their customers which manifests itself as lackluster, non-directional results for their products, services and marketing campaigns.
Now, more than ever, the customer is in charge of the buying decision. A study published in February of this year by the CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council reported that 57% of B2B buyers use what they find out about your company on their own before they pick up the phone or e-mail you for additional sales information. The more they can learn about and from you or your company on their own, the better.
But where do you put this content? And what type of knowledge should you share?
The answer to this question is easy. You just need to talk to your customers to find out. Spend time one on one with your customer in their surroundings – ideally where they are using what your company has to offer. This “in-context” discussion lets you pick-up clues about opportunities you might be missing. Do they use something else in combination with your product or to support your service? These may be clues to product enhancements or improvements you need to make.
Strive to understand what keeps your customer up at night, what problems they are trying solve and how your company fits into the rest of their life. It is rare that you will create something so unique that your customer will change their behavior to include it. Instead, you need to understand how your products or services fit within the rest of your customer’s daily life. You must also understand how you can grow your customer’s organic awareness of what your company does and why it’s important or different.
The work it takes to understand your customers is not as hard as you think. If you have the right conversation, patterns in their decision-making start to appear between 18 and 27 interviews. That means in less than a week you and your company can be much more informed and purposeful about the dollars you are spending on your marketing and in improving your products and services.
So, my advice to you? First, hire LAN Systems to take over your technology. Then use the time they save you to get out of the building and get to know your customers better. The time you spend is crucial to surviving and thriving in the new consumer-driven economy.
Eric V. Holtzclaw, Founder and Chief Strategist of Laddering Works, is an unconventional thinker who has spent 20+ years creating opportunities through the practical application of emerging technologies and trends to business.
His weekly column, Lean Forward, about the future of business and technology appears on Inc.com. Eric’s book, Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior, the 1st in a series about how “laddering” can build better teams and create better products and services is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.