Trading Places With Your Customers

How do you get customers?
When you have a product intended to serve a particular purpose, and you aim to make it succeed in a particular market, you go to where people are who will be able to use it, who will be interested in using it, who will want it, and will be most likely to buy it.

Then you test it out in the market. You generate a lot of interest and publicity, maybe by giving samples in exchange for feedback, or letting out a fully functional version with certain limits to differentiate it from the paid version.

You let people know you have something that will help them solve a particular problem, something that will improve their lives, make things easier, and fulfill a need of theirs.

How do you keep customers?
You give good service, and supply good products that do exactly what they’re meant to. You deliver on your promise. You go the extra mile.

Who decides if you give good service, or make good products?
You do. And your customers do, too. It’s a collaborative relationship –emphasis on relationship.

There are studies of course. Focus groups, market studies, feedback-for-points, paid surveys,etc. and then there’s also the more direct approach, like follow-ups, and soliciting and getting feedback from your customers.

But when your customers can hie off whenever they spot a better deal, what can you do on your part to keep doing what you want to do and make money running your business?

You put yourself in your customer’s place.

It’s not just about selling stuff anymore. Good stuff is why people come to you, but stuff alone won’t make them stay. Maybe before all the advantages brought about by the internet, yeah, but now with hundreds —thousands — of choices out there, people have to take it personal if they want to stay.

They have to get invested, as in, personally involved with your brand, and when that happens, you can have fans for life. Raving fans.

Think of Cubs fans. Think of all the people who, maybe in a fit of inspired lunacy and obsession, had something from their favorite whatever tattooed on themselves.

Bands, motorcycle brands, literary quote, autograph, movie *cough-Twilight-cough* …you can see all sorts of I-can’t-believe-they-actually-paid-to-have-that-done pictures when you know where to look. That’s how far some people can go when they’re really into something.

While you may not want anyone to tattoo your logo on their skin, it’s still true that when you want something to last, you’ll need support it making that happen. You have to build it to last. This applies to relationships as well, and a successful business is more than an exchange of money for goods and services. It’s about building a brand. It’s about building relationships with people.

The path to the knowledge you seek is simple: Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. “Please understand me and what my needs are, and make it simple for me to understand and act on what I have to do to be better.” Now, doesn’t that sound like advice to making a solid relationship?

What else do you need?

Part of your success is tied to your listening and communication skills.

  • “I’m pressured to meet MY target metrics – how can YOU help me meet THOSE?”
  • “I need something engrossing and entertaining to play with during my idle time. Do you have a game for me, preferable one that doesn’t cost too much?”
  • “I need something that doesn’t take up too much of my smartphone’s resources when it helps me track my schedule and To-Do list. Will your app let me do that, and make it look good, too?”
  • “I need to manage the commissions and pay-out for my affiliates without any hassle. Can your program do that for me?”

Businesses provide solutions, whether it’s B2B or B2C.

Whatever you make should give your clients what they need: an easier time accomplishing something, a tool or program to leverage what they’ve got and help them expand their range, a service that take will them higher…trading places with your customers lets you see what they need, and knowing that, you can tweak your methods, processes and products to do a better job of providing them with it.

It’s like being able to control the evolution of your business with another powerful resource — looking at your business from the customer’s perspective, you get to see one of the most important sides of the story, and influence how it goes. You look from their side of the table, and ask questions, like:

  • “Here’s what I want, what can you do to give me what I want?”
  • “Here’s what I need, what do you do now to give me what I need?”

Then you go further with the answers you get.

Of course, you can always try to sell what you believe your customers really need….but ever had someone give you something that they said was perfect for you, and it really wasn’t? Think about that. You received something that doesn’t fit you, but who the giver thought you were. You got what was meant for their image of you. And how did it make you feel?

In a sense, you were a ‘customer’ of sorts, right? And while you can’t turn down gifts from family, when you offer real customers something they don’t want, not only can they turn you down, they can get turned off and leave. And without them, you wouldn’t even be in business. I mean, why stay in a relationship where you’re not getting what you want?

And that’s the gist of trading places right there. In the most successful collaborations, with the best bloggers and the most well-known and respected online personalities, heck, in the long-lasting relationships, you not only give to get, you give to give.

Generosity begets its own rewards. You find out what people need and you find out what people want by asking them, and then doing what you can with the information you get to give them that. That’s how you get fans. That’s how you build relationships, and that’s how you build to last.

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