Recently, a client expressed frustration that prospects did not value his consulting services. And no wonder: his Google ads were attracting anyone and everyone, and he was giving away his ideas at initial meetings. The solution wasn’t to educate customers on his value. The solution was to capture the ears of a quality prospect. By the way, that same client of mine now charges for an initial visit, no more freebies.
Finding and capturing a more valued client is like fishing. Don’t buy a big net hoping to catch anything; you’ll attract bottom feeders (low-price shoppers). Know what you’re fishing for—and figure out the strength of line you need (your value proposition) to bring that big fish into your boat.
Consider these five strategic customer research steps:
- Analyze when, where and how you found valuable customers (someone specific) in the past. What “something special” did you say to them that caught their attention?
- Do one-on-one focus groups. Meet with network connections and prospects—not to sell—but to identify what your most valuable targets expect and care about.
- Want to dig for more facts? Make an appointment with the “business librarian” at your local library to help you do some guided online customer research.
- Use your research findings to create a “customer persona”—a specific description of your best customer. Give the persona a name (like Gil, maybe).
- Then develop a strategic plan to find and capture a bunch more Gils like him.
In your one-on-one conversations, adapt the following general questions to fit your specific product or service and situation:
- When, where and how does your best client start the shopping process? Online, in-store or both? (The answer will drive your business model)
- What motivates them to buy from you—and what do they miss if they don’t buy from you?
- Is the purchase seasonal, predictable, or random?
- Does your most valued customer rely on personal referrals or online reviews?
- Do they prefer durable solutions or quick fixes? Local shopping or big-box convenience?
- What’s their price expectation?
- Is your best customer the actual end-user or is he recommending to and/or purchasing for the end user?
Armed with your research findings, you can then customize the client experience to better manage expectations before, during and after each purchase. This will help create customer loyalty and repeat business.
So, what’s the moral of this fish tale? Know how to “say something special to someone specific,” and land a client that’s a real keeper.