Are you looking for new ways to jump-start your business in 2016? Trying to figure out why you're not getting the type of customer response to your product or service that you anticipated? Want to improve your operating systems to get better results?
I hope your answer is, "of course, I do!" Because improving your systems is something you should be doing constantly. Always looking for better ways to serve your clients, better ways to manage your money, better ways to develop employees as leaders, and so on, is one of the hallmarks of entrepreneurship, not to mention just smart business practice.
I suggest that there is one simple construct that will help you do all these things. It's a mindset, a way of thinking about your business and your customers, that will permeate everything you do and, therefore, every experience your customer (and all your other stakeholders, for that matter) has.
Every customer--every person--has four distinct needs that they are either consciously or, more often, subconsciously seeking to have gratified at all times. These needs are visual, emotional, functional, and financial. In order to meet these needs, you have to build these components into your business systems. When you do, you'll find that your business becomes more competitive, because you are designing the DNA of your business in such a way as to most effectively attract new customers and keep them coming back, time and time again.
Here's a quick run-down of these four customer needs:
Visual--People have strong preferences for the visual input that surrounds them, and it's been well documented that customers make decisions in a matter of just a few seconds based on what they see. Look at your website, your advertising, your salespeople, your store or office environment, your signage, your business cards, your product packaging. Do they have the right visual appeal?
Emotional--People respond emotionally and make buying decisions emotionally; all the facts and figures, all the detailed information simply give customers the "food," in other words, the rational justification, for an emotional decision that was made long before they actually say, "yes" or "no." Some people like a salesperson that engages in a lot of conversation with them; other people like to be left alone. Some people want the latest product on the market, while others will only buy a product that's stood the test of time. Why is that? More importantly, which does your customer prefer?
Functional--Probably the easiest of the four needs to understand and address, the functional requirement is that your product or service actually has to work! If it doesn't work as promised, good luck turning a first-time buyer into a repeat customer.
Financial--The financial need is not as straightforward as you might imagine. From the customer's standpoint, the cost of your product or service has to be within their ability to pay. But how much is too much? And how little is too little? A price that's too low can also be a turn-off to a customer. What's the sweet spot that will be highly attractive to your customer, while also ensuring that each sale is profitable for you? Improving the quality and the efficiency of your systems will help you create more revenue and profit, while keeping your prices at a desirable level for customers.
Of course, there's a lot more that I could say about each of these. But the key to this whole endeavor is knowing who your most important customers are, what they want, how they think, how they make decisions, in short, what drives them. Do you know your customer well enough to answer those questions? Start asking the right questions, and you'll discover all the answers you need.