When it comes to succeeding in small business, you’ll soon grow to realise that you need to prioritize your customers’ wants and needs. Many of us quit our nine to five employed roles and enter the realm of self-employed business ownership in order to follow our own hopes and dreams. We want to work in an area that we’re interested in, creating products and offering services that we’d invest in ourselves.
Sure, this is great. But when it comes down to it, you’re going to have to be a little lenient if you intend to succeed. After all, your target customer base is going to have to be much wider than yourself if you’re going to succeed and rake in the profits. In some ways, the greater your mass appeal, the more secure and profitable your business is going to be. This means putting the customer at the centre of the picture, rather than your own ideas, thoughts, and preferences. There are both direct and indirect ways that you can ensure your products are perfect for your target consumer audience.
Here are a few ways to find out exactly what your potential customers want and how to go about bringing their dreams to reality. Implementing these changes to your small business could truly be the step that takes you to the big time!
Do Your Market Research.
First things first, it’s essential that you undertake thorough market research. This process involves the collection and analysis of information and data concerning consumers, marketplace competitors, and how effective given marketing programmes are. Not only is market research absolutely essential for any startup, it’s something that should be employed by businesses at any point in their progression, as it gives you a clear understanding of where customer demand and interest lies. Having a thorough understanding of the marketplace can allow you to choose the direction that your product development should take.
Remember that the closer your wares fit the marketplace’s expectations, the more profitable your company will be overall. Generally speaking, outsourcing this area of work often proves best, as an impartial and independent party contact consumers on your behalf and find out exactly what they have to say about various aspects of your company. So, if you hand over this task to a specialist agency, they will know all the right questions to ask.
However, if you decide to save a little cash and take matters into your own hands, ensure that you engage with customers using the following methods: surveys, multiple choice questionnaires, seminars, focus groups, and product trials. The results from these market research activities will help you to decide what customers want, aiding you to tailor your products to their specific needs.
Bespoke Items and Services.
Another area that you can profit from is bespoke items and services. These are individual, custom-made products or services that meet a specific customer’s needs. Sure, this may not be ideal on a grand scale. But if you’re a smaller company, this can bring in a lot of profit. After all, people are more likely to pay out for something that is exactly what they want. You can personalise goods with equipment such as a hobby laser cutter, an embroidery machine, or paper cutting, letterpress, or printing. This is a small add-on to existing items from your product inventory that could sway a customer to purchase an item rather than opting for an alternative or a competitor. Sure, the machinery, equipment, and tools used to personalise goods may seem a little pricey.
However, they will quickly pay for themselves and then provide you with the means to continue making profit with personalisation for years down the line. This is also better than outsourcing personalisation, as you can make small tweaks to your designs as you go, rather than having to sell an entire bulk run of your original design.
Alternatively, you can craft items from scratch, taking direct orders from customers and providing them with completely custom made items. Bear in mind, however, that this is more time consuming, and you are likely to have to charge higher prices to make the venture worthwhile.
Packaging is becoming an increasingly popular business tool, with many companies using packaging and the unboxing experience as a means of crafting brand image or aesthetic and advertising. Think about it. Packaging can be whatever you want it to be. You can incorporate your brand colours into the wrap, add branded tape or sealant stickers, and include business cards or promotional material inside the envelope or box.
More and more people are sharing details of their day to day lives on social media, so if your packaging catches their eye, they’re likely to take a snap and share with their friend’s list. This exposes your brand to numerous people who have never heard of it, as their followers may then visit your site and make purchases themselves after browsing your goods. This is ideal, as, at the end of the day, it means more profit!
However, you can always take things a step further to guarantee that shared snap. Add a personal touch to your product packaging. If you have a small scale business, take the time to write a personal thank you note, which can be included on the packaging. This won’t take all too long but will make a real impact on your customers, making their shopping and unboxing experience all the more memorable.
Remember that customers want to feel individual and appreciated. Nowadays, the consumer market is saturated. Consumers are making purchases and sellers are closing sales multiple times a day, every single day. It’s not surprising then, that many sellers and retailers can begin to take their clients and their custom for granted. This is something that you need to avoid at all costs. Especially if you are a small business: at the end of the day, customer loyalty is the key to repeated sales and success of small scale retail.
So make sure that you truly tailor what you’re offering to their wants and needs! Sure, it may take a little time and effort. But it’ll be worth every investment you make!