Businesses often struggle with their branding message – trying to define, for their potential clientele, who they are and what they do; why a customer would want to buy from them.
The resulting message is often too vague, too far-reaching, too ambiguous — maybe too easily forgettable.
When I consult with a new client, one of the first things I like to do as part of the assessment is to interview their customers (preferably in person or by phone). Depending on the type of business product or service, I ask questions like:
- What type of work does this business provide to you?
- Are you satisfied with the product or service they provide?
- Why do you use this business as opposed to their competition?
- Do you see any areas of improvement?
- Would you recommend this business?
This interview serves several purposes: I get the customer’s view of what the business in question offers, why they hire or buy from them and what their “impression” of that business is. This information helps me in branding a company, determining the niche they might occupy, deciding who their target audience is, formulating their “value proposition” and ultimately, in marketing that business.
Most businesses, if they have an ongoing client relationship, are in regular contact with their customers. If a buyer continues to buy, the relationship is probably okay. Many businesses fail to do a periodic “check in” — they assume that if the customer continues to be a customer, there are no relationship “issues.”
But checking in with customers can also:
- Make the customer feel good (somebody cares)
- Allow the customer to voice positive feedback or vent any negative input
- Let a business focus on their perceived strengths in the eye of their customer
- Alert businesses to a problem they may have otherwise not known about
Polling customers is, for many businesses, an “If I don’t ask, they won’t tell” situation…perhaps anticipating negativity, businesses are leery about finding out the truth.
In my experience, the opposite has proven true: interviewing customers makes them feel valued and the feedback has often proven invaluable.
Do you need help creating your branding or marketing messages? Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based small business marketing, branding, social media and content marketing consultant. Click to find out more about Martha Spelman. If you don’t subscribe already, please sign up for Martha’s Blog: Marketing Musings and Tips du Jour.