New and established businesses can use surveys to gather crucial information for decision-making. If you’re a startup, there will be several decisions you’ll need to make about your products and services, whom you target, how you reach your ideal customers and what you will say to them. Typeform have good examples of surveys here. In this article, I will highlight five key decisions that marketing surveys can help you make.
Startup Decision #1 – Who is your customer?
You have a great idea for a business. The product is amazing! But do you really understand who your customer is and why they would buy from you and not from another business?
A survey of your market helps you create a picture of your ideal customer. We call these ‘buyer personas’. The survey can ask questions about job titles, key responsibilities, gender, income, educational background, main challenges, budget and so on. You can start by asking friends and family, then your professional network. If you require more responses, market survey platforms allow you to reach a wider audience for a fee.
Startup Decision #2 – What are your brand values?
If you are thinking about your brand values, this is great! Many startups ignore this at the beginning and do not make it a priority. However, your brand values guide your business by establishing the standards by which you operate. It also lets your market know what to expect from you.
Let’s say you know your ideal customer from a previous market survey. You also need to know what they value. If you say one of your values as a business is creativity, for instance, does your ideal customer care about creativity? In a highly competitive industry, would that customer buy a cheaper product even if it wasn’t particularly creative? Understanding the values that matter to your market helps you further define your ideal customer. Ask people what they care about. Use a survey to help respondents prioritise different values. How do you stack up?
Startup Decision #3 – Which content engages your target customer?
Startups and established businesses need to continuously engage their customers. This could be through a content marketing strategy that includes social media, blogs, videos etc. When you start creating content, monitor responses e.g. likes, comments and shares. This will give you an idea of what people engage with.
When you have built the readership of your content, ask your customers what kind of content they would like to see more of. Consider the format they prefer i.e. written guides, videos, infographics, live videos etc. Also, consider the topics they want to learn more about. Nothing beats actually asking your customers what they want and them witnessing you taking their suggestions on board.
Startup Decision #4 – How do you want your brand to be perceived?
A 2015 article by Brandwatch states,
Brand perception is owned by consumers, not brands. Regardless of your message, whatever people are thinking and saying about your brand, that is your brand.
This even truer now that it was in 2015. Surveying your customers is important for measuring how you are perceived or how you might be perceived based on elements of your branding such as your business name, logo, website design and content. If what you undercover through a survey is not how you would like to be perceived, you can take steps to influence that perception. Use social media and storytelling to create a relatable narrative around your brand and to build trust with your market.
Startup Decision #5 – How will you price your product to show value?
How you price a product could make or break its success. From the first decision about who your customers are, you might know enough about what they might be willing to pay. It is also important to know what your competitors are charging.
Pricing can be complex, including tiers and product bundling. This example of a product pricing survey:
Another approach could be to ask respondents what they would pay as a maximum. Something like this:
- Less than £100
- Between £100 and £250
- More than £250
If value-based pricing is your focus (as it is in many B2B sectors), ask your customers different questions such as which additional features they are willing to pay for (or paying for existing features to be bigger, faster or more durable) and what matters most to them when using a vendor like yours. You’ll be able to segment your market and give a price that reflects value to each segment. Each customer segment will be different.
Used well, marketing surveys are an effective way of hearing out your target market. You might not always change what you are doing because of the results but you will have information that allows you to put in place messages, content and support for anticipated customer reactions.
Have you used marketing surveys to make a decision? Tell us how it went in the comments!
I’m a regular buyer from a popular high street brand. Every month, I spend probably £30-£50 with them using my store card. My husband has a store card too but he can go many months without buying anything.
The trouble is, he gets lots of discount vouchers to encourage him to buy more. Little do the high street brand know that I live in the same house with him. I don’t get vouchers, they think I don’t need them because I buy without being nudged. It kind of annoyed me so I buy less from them, and alas, discount vouchers addressed to me have started arriving!
As a marketing professional, I have a good idea what this brand has done. They’ve used customer segmentation techniques to divide their market to allow them to push more sales to potential high-value customers and inadvertently ignored already high-value customers. I don’t know if they’ve taken the right approach as I don’t have enough information about their customer base.
Using customer loyalty and lifetime value, here are four types of customers you will find in your growing business and some ideas on how to engage them:
Type 1 Customers: Supporter Sam
The Supporter champions your product. He is a current or previous customer who had good experiences working with your company or product. They are loyal and will tell their peers about you, recommending you whenever possible.
However, they often have a low lifetime value due to tight budgets or slow sales cycles. They might not buy regularly or might not renew their services with you at the end of a period. But if you have treated them well, they could be your biggest champions. For instance, these customers are a rich source of case studies and testimonials.
Keep these customers informed of new products and services. Invite them to customer update meetings, add them to your email list, your advisory board and support them as they use your products/services even if they might not buy more in the short term.
Type 2 Customers: Partner Patsy
Partners love your company and your product. They are also a high-value customer that provide your business with many opportunities for upselling.
These customers are likely to be medium-sized organisations that have grown with your business. They are unlikely to have a centralised structure so decisions are made quickly and locally. This is your dream customer because they not only buy but they also recommend you to their peers.
Give these customers a single focal point for their support needs e.g. a dedicated account manager or customer support executive. Officially ask for their input to your product roadmap. These customers will be demanding if they are spending a lot with you. So keep them in the loop on any changes to your business or service in advance. Remember that the main champion of your product/service within their business needs to keep advocating for you so give he or she as much help as possible to do that.
Type 3 Customers: Celebrity Charlie
Celebrity customers are a tricky group to manage. This is because they are high-value but they are not loyal customers. They sometimes buy on impulse or they buy because there were no other options.
However, they will not easily agree to give you testimonials. A case study is almost impossible to get from this customer, no matter how good your product or service is.
Ensure that you provide the best customer experience possible throughout the buying process but don’t spend too much overhead on keeping them unless you get an inkling that they are potentially Partner Patsys. Provide existing use cases and case studies to highlight your credibility with this customer. Many Celebrity Charlies end up being Partner Patsys if you can provide a great customer experience, support and a differentiated value proposition.
Type 4 Customers: Ex Eric a.k.a The Ex
We all know these types of customers. And they are great to have in the business for a time but they tend to cost more than they bring in.
They are usually low-value, meaning that they don’t spend much with you and their long-term financial outlook suggests that they will not be in a position to increase their spending. They are not loyal either, which makes them different from Supporter Sam. Ex Erics will usually ask for a significant discount and will be motivated more by price than value.
Keep Ex Eric happy by bringing him on board with a discounted offer. Then show him the value you can bring his business in terms of extra perks and support. Avoid spending on unnecessary expenses to acquire this client because customer lifetime value to customer acquisition costs will be very low, and hence unsustainable. For instance, don’t pay for sales people to fly to another country to meet this customer. Offer a video conference instead.
Any there any other types of customers that you can think of? Tell us in the comments.
All ilustrations by Yekemi Otaru
Feature photo credit: iStock/Getty Images
I have a confession to make
I want people to like me. When I enter a room, I look for signs that the people in that room think I’m alright. These signs could include:
Smiling at me
Starting a conversation with me
Pulling me into a conversation by asking me questions
Making eye contact
Nodding in my direction
It’s a hard thing to admit in a society that tells us that caring about what people think is bad, a sign of insecurity. On the other hand, we work in business markets where we want to attract as many customers as possible. We study them, and we seem desperate to catch their attention. It is fair to say that we care what customers think. Are businesses therefore insecure?
Businesses have compromised their value proposition
Most people, like businesses, want to be liked. But I’ve found that if a room full people all like me, I’m probably not being true to myself. It’s likely that I’m going out of my way (with some of them) to say the things they want to hear. Consciously or unconsciously, I’ve compromised my real value. Do businesses do the same in a bid to secure new customers? I think so.
In fact, if your value proposition is for all customers alike, I can tell you with a degree of certainty that your business isn’t being true to itself. It’s the old adage of trying to be all things to all men (and women).
My value proposition doesn’t resonate with everyone
As much as I want to be liked by everybody, I can’t achieve that without losing sight of my real focus. I have become comfortable with this.
In a room of ten people, for instance, it is not unusual for me to really hit it off with two or three people. It’s a kind of natural selection and I’ve learned to rejoice in this.
Therefore, focus on adding value in your unique way. Recognise who you should say, “No” to. You read that right. You will not add value to some customer groups. And the less time you spend on these groups, the better focus you give your business. Hence, it comes down to targeting and positioning, along with a clear value proposition.
What are your target customer groups and what is your specific value proposition to these groups?
Which customers are you chasing now that you should be saying, “No” to?
If you would like support in answering these questions for your business, get in touch with us today