Out of OfficeOut of Office Blog

The Secret to Success Rests in the Minds of Your Customer

John JantschJohn Jantsch

In order to create an effective marketing strategy you must first define what truly sets your business apart.  Without your one defining core difference, you’ll be forced to compete on price alone, and that is never a smart way to run your business.

But how do you discover what makes your business special in the eyes of your customers?

The simple answer? Ask them. If you really want accurate answers to what sets your business apart, you must turn to your best, most loyal customers.

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lawnWho knows what sets you apart from the competition better than the people who are already using your services? So when you want to know what is working for you, start by asking your ideal client. Client interviews can be a great way to find out what your customers really think.

Go in with a plan

First of all, when you conduct a client interview, you will want to begin with a plan. When you sit down for a client interview, you should have a clear goal of what you want to accomplish, and your questions should reflect that goal. You don’t want to waste any of yours or your clients’ time asking questions that do not help you achieve your goal.

Possible questions include:

bike shopThere are plenty more where these come from but try to limit yourself to a handful. Also, plan to ask follow-up questions to dig deeper into your clients’ answers.

The questions you initially ask should just be a starting point. If unprovoked, most people will give the first answer that comes to mind, and often this is the simplest answer they can give. This will likely provide you little value.

What you want to do is try to take a portion of their answer and dive a little deeper. Ask them questions like “What do you mean by this?” or “Can you elaborate on that?” This will give you more opportunities to find the information that may overlap between client interviews, and help define your marketing strategy moving forward.

What to do with what you discover

What you do with the information gleaned in the client interview varies by the type of information received. First of all, you can use these to help define your overall marketing strategy. If there is any information that every one of your interviews identified as a key reason for them choosing your business, this can inform your core difference. Your core difference is the basis for all of your marketing, and can help you draw even more business.

At the very least, your interviews will provide great customer testimonials to use in promotional material (with their permission of course.) It can also help you identify strengths or shortcomings of your business’ customer experience, which can inform you about what needs to be improved  in those areas.

With the right questions and a little bit of planning, your customers can tell you all you need to learn to sell even more of your product.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best selling author Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine. His blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast, a top ten marketing show on iTunes was called a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine.

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