One of the most valuable things you can do for your business is to find out what your customers want.
Now you might think you already know…but you’d be wrong.
Sure, you know your customers like you and your product or service, but is it what they really want? Possibly, but I have found that most companies don’t know why their customers buy from them, or what their customers really want. Instead, they “assume”… which we all know makes and ass out of you and me.
Today, thanks to email and websites, it’s easier than ever to get feedback from potential customers and loyal clients.
Feedback allows companies to add new lines of products they didn’t realize their clients wanted or correct mistakes they never knew they were making.
In case you missed it, earlier this year I wrote a post about feedback and what I learnt from my clients. It’s worth checking out if you missed it.
When it comes to learning about what people want, I always think back to my 12th grade school festival.
Each club had to set up a stall and sell one item. I can’t remember what was available, but if my memory serves me correctly, there were stands selling hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, cotton candy, ice-cream, thai food (as I attended the International School of Bangkok) and a few game booths. We were given the exciting task of selling water. Woo-hoo!! (said with a bit of sarcasm)
Every other stall seemed so much cooler than ours. I mean, how exciting can selling water be?
Here’s a sample conversation
- Customer: “One water, please.”
- Me: “Here you go.”
So, there I was, sitting behind this counter watching the world go by. At least it felt like that. I would watch from afar as people seemed to be having so much fun making all sorts of dishes while I just sold a few bottles of water.
That all changed around noon. Being the middle of summer and the sun beating down, soon my friend and I could barely keep up with demand.
The excitement at the other stalls had all but vanished, and water was flying out of our cooler.
It wasn’t long before it was all gone. Only one problem, people still wanted water. That’s when things got interesting.
One guy came up to us and asked for water. When we told him we were all out, he pointed at the bottle behind me and said, “What about that one?”
It was my half-empty bottle so I told him as much. Didn’t faze him in the least. He said, “I’ll take it.”
A warm half full bottle of water, that had been drunk from…but he was adamant.
Next thing I knew, we were selling all the half-open bottles we had behind the counter. Twenty bottles later, we were out…again. But people weren’t having any of it.
To clarify, I really was all out this time. One guy didn’t believe me, so I opened my cooler to show him we didn’t have any bottles left. His response? “I’ll take it.”
Looking in the cooler I said, “Take what?”
“The water!” I then had to explain to him that the water left in the cooler was simply ice that had melted (not mineral water). He didn’t care, so off I went in search of empty bottles that had been left around the campus to fill up.
I didn’t want anyone to mislead anyone so I told people that all we had was ice-water and we were using used bottles (that had been washed). It didn’t make a slight bit of difference and I sold every bottle I could fill.
This was my first real experience with supply and demand. If people want what you have, they will buy.
That’s why every business should use three acronyms that Keith Cunningham uses.
- FOWTW – find out what they want
- GOGI – go and get it
- GITT – give it to them
It’s that simple.
An entrepreneur’s life isn’t easy, but using this formula will allow you to focus on three achievable tasks. Nice and easy.
Once you know what your customers want, and have got it for them, all that’s left is to get your message out there; aka marketing.
Every year, thousands of businesses bite the dust, and thousands more and born.
Starting your own business is fraught with peril which is why it’s so important to invest the time to study.
Success doesn’t come overnight, despite what we read on the Internet. Every entrepreneur needs “5 ents” that I wrote about in this post.
I’ve been involved with 3 startups and I know how tough it can be. I’ve been there.
But if I had one piece of advice for anyone looking to start their own business, it would have to be find out what your customers want. Works every time.