9 Steps To Sustainable Business Growth: Step 1 - Know Your CustomerGrowing a business requires a great deal of effort on the part of the business owner – not juts time, but mental stamina and emotional equanimity. Learning, planning, implementing and executing are all necessary components of successful business growth. Sometimes it seems unattainable, sometimes just plain ambiguous. But there are concrete, systematic steps involved to growing your business.

Ready to start the most efficient and cost-effective journey to burgeoning business success? Like every practical business process, it starts with step one.

Know your customer.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well [that] the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

– Peter Drucker

Do you know who your customers are? Sounds like a silly question, who are they really? Where are they located and how long have they been with you? Why did they choose you over your competitor? Are you their first-time provider or a replacement? Why do they continue to stay with you? 

Too often, we gain a customer without really understanding why, and the implication of not knowing why makes both customer acquisition and customer retention unsustainable. After all, if we don’t know what’s truly important to our customers, how do we know what messages to send them? What should we focus on to ensure we have happy and satisfied customers… not just today, but for the long run?

Meet the buyer persona.

Sirius Decisions, a leading sales and marketing benchmarking firm, promotes the creation of buyer personas as a way to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of your customer. Here’s how John Neeson, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Sirius Decisions puts it: “With the transition to the digital world, today's buyer is even more elusive. Today's buyers do not react to features and product-speak, they are looking to see how you are listening. To accommodate this change, best practice companies have moved to think like a buyer, communicating to specific personas or roles in ways that represent their unique needs.”

Developing a buyer persona takes some time and dedicated thought, but it’s well worth the effort and yields tremendous results. Your buyer personas help you identify the factors that influence your customers during the buying process, helping you understand what makes them tick:

  • WHO they rely on in their decision-making processes
  • HOW they gather and absorb information
  • WHY they make the decisions they do, both rationally (need) and emotionally (want)

To effectively develop buyer personas, begin by looking at your current customers. Remember: No one has just one type of customer. You need to develop multiple personas to represent all types of buyers you make contact with, or may deal with in the future. Select a cross section that represents the depth and diversity of your customer base:

  • Look for customers who have different backgrounds and operate in different industries.
  • Select some who have just begun doing business with you and others who have been with you for years. 
  • Include customers who buy a single product or service, as well as customers who are multi-users of your offerings. 
  • Incorporate customers across the demographic spectrum, varying in location, age, gender, marital status, children, etc. 

Gathering as much detailed insight into your current customers as possible allows you to craft more targeted messaging as you work to sell your products and services in the marketplace.

Create the buyer persona.

Each of your buyers has his or her own varying needs and buying behaviors, and therefore requires a variation in messaging and value proposition. To create the comprehensive personas you need to truly understand the nuances of your customers, follow these steps:

  1. Identify three-to-five different types of buyers for your product or service.

Doctors, hair salons, automotive repair stations, etc.

  1. Identify who the typical decision maker(s) is in each case. Know who has decision-making authority versus decision-making influence.

The doctor, the salon manager, the station owner, etc.

  1. List the key pain points that trigger their buying process.

Are they time sensitive or price sensitive? Are they after personalization or efficiency?

  1. Map out the key demographic facets of each buyer.

Age, gender, geographic details, etc.

  1. Understand their preferred methods of obtaining and processing information, as well as where they go for this knowledge.

What kind of language do they use to search online? Do they prefer webinars or whitepapers? Do they attend trade shows? Are they on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter? Do they look at online reviews and forums?

Do You “KYC”?

The financial services industry has developed a formal process that financial institutions and other regulated companies must follow in order to Know Your Customer (KYC)

The KYC requirement focuses on performing a level of due diligence that is meant to prevent identify theft, money laundering and terrorist financing. And while KYC was derived from the United States Patriot Act, its application to small business is quite useful. The essence of knowing your customer enables a business owner to identify the right customers, retain the best customers and, ultimately, deliver more profitable and growth-driving results.

Knowing your customer, no matter what industry and field you are in, is the absolutely essential first step to sustainable business growth.

Want the full nine-step journey to successful business growth? Click here to download PrimePay’s complimentary e-book, “9 Steps To Growing Your Business: Focusing On What Matters Most.”