This week I gained an empathetic understanding of my customer.
I care about my customers. My customers care about their customers. That means I care about their customers. Our work together is centered around my understanding of my customer, and my customer’s customer. Together, we discover and capitalize on new opportunities.
This week I focused on my customer. This post is about the empathetic exploration of my customer. I outline my thought process and the steps I take to identify my customer’s unmet needs, pain-points, and struggles.
I am seeking answers to questions like
- who is my customer
- what are my customer’s relevant problems
- how does my customer currently solve these problems
- what channels will I use to connect with my customer
- what types of relationships do I cultivate with my customers
I am preparing to re-enter the saturated market of professional service providers. In order to stand-out and establish myself I will need to be creative in how I position my brand and how I craft the experience. It should nurture a person along the path to becoming a customer.
Future updates like this are typically posted to this site on Sunday mornings.
This is a story about my customer.
My customer runs her own business because she’s a natural born leader. She is open-minded to change and also feels comfortable voicing her own ideas. She is willing to collaborate with a new provider who is motivated to help her grow.
She feels like her marketing and design service providers aren’t growing her business at the rate she would like. She has watched a few years go by and consistently sees no or little return. She doesn’t mind paying a premium for services that impact her bottom-line in a measurable way.
My customer would like to know what her options are in the event she decided to hire a new provider. She will likely ask a friend, family member, or colleague to refer a name to her. Eventually, she will make her way to the internet for further research a potential solution to her problem.
My customer is willing to write articles, but is looking for strategic direction. She is looking for the right blend of expert guidance, planning, and repeatable processes to help her consistently create and publish the right content for their audience.
My customers often come from very different industries, but with similar problems. My customers also have common traits and qualities that are represented throughout.
- Lifelong Learner
- $200,000+ Income
- Digital Native (age: 24-40)
- Smartphone User
- Self-Starter / Self-Motivated
- Central/North New Jersey
- Leads by Example
- Not self-centered or narcissistic
- Willing to be involved in the marketing and design process
- Transparent about existing internal processes
- Provides access to review customer support archives and other feedback channels
- Comfortable making online and mobile payments
I have answered my question, “who is my customer?”. Now I will talk about the specific problems my customer is presently confronted with. I will use this list of problems and pain-points to source inspiration for ideas on how to package and deliver my product as a solution.
Here’s a list of specific pain-points that have been shared with me by customers over the years:
- Not enough leads
- Not converting website visitors into leads
- Not able to manage client relationships
- Not able to measure marketing and design return on investment
- Not able to write blog posts
- Not able to update website pages
- Not able to align marketing, sales, operations, and design with the business under one shared vision working towards the same success together
My customer needs to grow her business is willing to do whatever it takes to solve the above web of problems. She hires a service provider who attempts to solve the above web of problems.
However, a new list of problems emerges.
I asked clients what the problems were with the current service providers (marketing agencies, design studios, and freelancers), myself included, who are attempting to solve this problem. Below is a list of responses regarding the pain-points experienced working with typical agencies, marketers, and designers in the past:
- steep upfront costs
- slow and complex
- independent of business
- unreliable and inconsistent
- built on opinions and assumptions about the market
The headaches, challenges, unreliable and inconsistent results experienced during a marketing or redesign project are the product of a broken playbook.
I am designing a new playbook. It starts with my relationship with my customer.
I feel emotionally connected to my customers. I am motivated by the thought of seeing you, my customer, succeed. I am driven by the excitement of growing our businesses together.
I think of the relationship I cultivate with my customers as partnerships. We need one another, equally. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership. The best partnerships are those which adds comparable value to each side.
We help one another grow personally and professionally. We inspire one another. We listen to one another.
I am grateful for the relationship we build together. For if it were not for you, my business would not be a business at all.
In the next section, I talk about how I engage, interact, educate, and attract my target audience.
Channels to Customer
Identify a list of low-hanging fruit (prospects) within my target audience who are potential customers. I will follow the steps I outline in the list below to attract a stranger (prospect) to my website and convince her to become my customer.
- Like and share their posts to get my audience to notice me
- Based on observations of my audience, I will get ideas for topics of posts that would be enjoyable and useful
- Track which of my posts are liked and shared by my target audience
- Among those who engage with my posts, identify the top 3-5 most beneficial relationships and initiate direct communication with each of them
- Setup a phone call to “learn more about what my audience is working on these days”. Based on this call, we’ll know whether we are a good fit or not. Perhaps there is a more efficient way of qualifying the lead?
Here’s a list of ideas on how I may use in-person channels to acquire and retain customers.
Word-of-mouth through satisfied customers who understand the challenges when you pay for projects that don’t yield results
Incentive satisfied customers to share their story. Interview the customer on video, podcast, and text. Share her story with my target audience to give them a first-hand experience of what it is like to work with me
Attend industry events where I know my target audience is likely to be and live blog or live tweet the event for people who can’t attend.
Here’s a list of ideas on how I may use online channels to acquire and retain customers.
Take note of the types of posts that people in my audience like and share
Follow competitors, prospects, partners, and industry thought leaders who are influential to my target audience
Engage with competitor’s followers who are in my target audience using social media
Add a share button by my products and content to make it easier to share the page link to an individual contact or community for more exposure to my brand and services
Include click-to-share quotable lines in my blog posts so that my blog readers can easily share my best content to their community
To be continued
In a future post, I will share what I did and what I’m doing to package and sell my services as products to solve my customer’s problem.