Why you need to understand what your customers really want

  • 4 January, 2016
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  • Blog

Customer needs and motivations are fundamental to any marketing strategy, but the question is: are they actually what your customers want? And if so, can you meet or better meet them within your available resources?

The most effective way to do this is to understand what customers are trying to do or achieve when they interact with your business. Theodore Levitt summed it up perfectly: “customers don’t need a two inch drill, they need a two inch hole”.

In your market, a thorough understanding of your customers’ needs can help your positioning. By discovering under or over-served needs, you can offer a service that acts as a solution, creating a positive experience for your customers and giving them a reason to use your business again.

Distinguish between the need and the solution

Linking your customers’ needs to an effective solution that fulfils them can easily get lost in translation. Even people who work at the business with a product or service to offer can find it challenging to refine their understanding of their customers’ buying habits.

To tackle this, we recommend writing ‘need statements’. These help to describe what the customer is trying to do in a specific context, such as what they trying to get done in certain situations. Alternatively, they can describe how something can be improved – e.g. reducing the time it takes for the customer to complete a task.

Satisfying your customers

Once we understand our customers’ needs and have described them with some degree of discipline, the next thing we need to know is whether these needs are actually important to the customer. Also whether they’ve been met, partially met or not met at all.

Those needs that haven’t been met can create a space for your business to become a first mover in your market. For those needs that are partially met, there’s the opportunity to promote yourself by doing a better job than the competition to satisfy them.

It’s also possible to serve customers whose needs have already been met by completely changing the landscape. Using disruptive marketing techniques, you can set your business apart, and offer your customers something new that could be a different solution to their requirements. For example, iTunes used technological advances to change user buying habits, giving listeners a more portable, and convenient, way to browse music.

Mapping customer needs

To really understand your customers, you can run ‘needs analysis’ on a more detailed level.

Customer needs can be mapped in detail, showing whether they’re emotional or functional, and at what stage in the customer journey they occur. From choosing your product or service in the beginning, to ordering it, through to usage and repeat usage, you can make sure your business offering acts as a better solution than other available offerings.

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