Customers are a lot like personal friendships. Some companies cycle through “friends” continually throughout the year, and others hold on to a few dependable ones for decades. If your company is in the former group, your challenges most likely will revolve around how to reach out to new customers in fresh new ways. If your company is in the latter category, having loyal customers that love your product or service is indeed priceless, but you also need to expand your customer base to minimize risk and provide revenue growth even during periods of soft demand.
So how can you expand your company’s circle of friends and make them into loyal customers? For inspiration, let’s look to Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (1936), which remains, to this day, a best-selling and essential guide to creating positive personal relationships with others. Here is what Dale Carnegie has to say about developing new relationships and winning people over, and how market research can help you to use these principles to win new business:
“Become genuinely interested in other people” - Know your market and your potential customer
- Market research can provide a broad or detailed landscape of your market and who your likely customers are. The more insight you have to potential customers, the easier it will be to identify their goals and challenges, and speak directly to them in your product offerings and advertising.
“Smile” - Rejuvenate your brand or message
- Is your logo or packaging dated? Does your company communication project confidence and authority? Is your website user friendly and welcoming? Potential customers want to do business with companies that are current, competent and friendly. Market research can help you to compare your advertising, public communications and online engagement to your competitors and understand what aspects that potential customers are responding to positively, and which could use some freshening up to be more inviting.
“Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves” - Communicate in your customers’ preferred ways
- How do your customers want to do business with you? Market research can help identify what platforms and applications your customers are using, so that you can reach them the way they like to connect, and allow you to easily reach new customers that fit the same profile.
“Talk in terms of the other person’s interest” - Speak directly to potential customers’ needs
- People and organizations all have needs, and in order to come to you to fill those needs, they have to know that you have a solution that is available to them. Market research can help you to understand the challenges and desires of your potential customers, so that you can develop a brand message or advertising that answers their needs and makes it easy for them to see the value of your product.
“Make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely” – Inspire loyalty
- The adage used to be that a happy customer tells a handful of friends and an unhappy one would tell the world. This is still mostly true, but thanks social media, happy customers can now spread the word just as far and as wide as an unhappy one. Making loyal customers out of your best customers will ensure high retention and positive word of mouth, especially if employees frequently move between companies in the same field or industry. Winning a new customer through the recommendation of a current customer is the most cost-effective advertising you can do! Insights from market research can help you figure out what it is about your brand that that your current customers like (or hopefully love), what value your company is offering as compared to competitors, and what keeps your customers purchasing month after month or year after year, so that you can highlight those features to new and potential customers.
Expanding your customer base is one of the key ways that companies drive growth, and market research can help you to add to your customer list by providing an understanding of your current customers, and offering insight to help you identify, target and capture the attention of potential new customers. Utilizing the business intelligence and analysis from market research can help you to meaningfully connect with prospective customers and hopefully turn them into loyal, decade-long relationships.