How well do you know your customer? The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to serve them.
I just got back from speaking at the California Public Information Officers Conference on the topic of “Getting Your Message Across: What Great Leaders Know About Storytelling”.
I really didn’t know what these people did, but I decided to do a lot of homework to find out. I’m glad I did because it paid off and they noticed.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because it’s important to know who your customer is. Since I was speaking at a conference, my customer was the meeting planner that hired me. But the “end user” was the people who were in the audience. So I actually had to know both for different reasons.
Let’s say, for example, you have a product or service to sell. You could sell that product directly to the end user, or you could sell it to a distributor, wholesaler, or retailer. With each one, you need to know the needs and concerns of each customer. And some of their concerns overlap.
The distributor, wholesaler and retailer are concerned about whether the product is going to sell or not.If the product has been on TV and has lots of advertising dollars behind it, they feel more comfortable.
The retailer is thinking about the big picture and how the displays will look in the store. They want you to do your homework and get to know their company, their policies, and the layout of the stores. They want to know how you plan to drive traffic into the stores and how you will drive attention to the product.
Distributors and wholesalers may want to know about pricing and delivery time. They want to make sure the products aren’t defective and that they fit into their lines.
Then the end user that sees the product on the shelf or on a website has a whole different set of concerns. They may want to know it’s safe, a good value for their money and that it would make a good gift.
The bottom line is that you should always know who each customer is and how you can give them what they want. Always be thinking about how you can give your customers value. How you can help them. You want to establish a relationship of trust.
So, you might be saying, “that sounds like a lot of work”. Yeah, it is. But it will pay off in spades. I could have just shown up and delivered a canned speech and picked up a paycheck. (It took weeks of hard work and research to get it right). But I have a deeply rooted need to make sure people get value from whatever it is I’m selling, whether it’s a speech or a product or a class. And you should too.
Was it worth it? You bet! To hear one participant say “thank you for understanding our needs and giving us concrete advice we can use” was all I needed to hear. Even better is when you get a card, letter or email from someone that took the advice and sold an idea or made money because of it. If it made one person’s life better, you’ve done your job.