By Uju Obuekwe

In last month’s edition of the Marketing Masterclass, we explored why small businesses should focus on customers and not the competition if they want to be successful.

We said that customers are the lifeblood of any business, and it is important to focus on meeting their needs, instead of worrying about competing with other businesses. We noted that trying to imitate your competitor’s strategy or products rarely works, as each business has its own unique strengths and weaknesses; and the real competitor for any small business is actually the customer’s problem – not other businesses in your industry.

In this concluding part, we will look at three good reasons why small businesses should focus on its customers:

First, it allows small businesses to better understand their target market. It is vital for small businesses to know who their target audience is and what they are looking for. What makes your customers tick? What are your customers’ pain points? What are they struggling with? How can you make their lives easier? How best can you serve them because you are in the business of solving your customers’ problems. The more time you spend listening to your customers, the more likely you are to understand their needs. This understanding can help you develop products and services that appeal to your target audience. It also helps you identify opportunities for growth, including new product lines or expansion of existing ones.

You can use a variety of methods when determining the needs of your target market; interviewing or surveying customers or potential customers about what they want and observing how people interact with your products.

According to Steve Jobs “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology. You can’t start with the technology then try to figure out where to sell it.” 

Secondly, by understanding your customers, small businesses can create a unique selling proposition that will set them apart from the competition.

The USP is an idea, product or service that differentiates you from the competition. If you pay attention to what customers want and need, then you will see the reason they buy from you. Come up with a slogan or tagline that captures what you stand for in one sentence. When you are clear on what makes you unique, communicate it with clarity, consistency and constancy.

Finally, focusing on customers allows small businesses to build strong relationships with them, which can lead to repeat business and referrals.

Small businesses often rely on word-of-mouth from satisfied customers to grow their business. By offering better customer service, you can build strong bonds and earn the loyalty of your customers.

Research shows that over 70% of small businesses fail due to poor customer retention and lack of repeat business, therefore small businesses need to provide outstanding customer service, develop strong relationships with their customers, and always look for ways to improve their business. By doing these things, SMEs can build a successful business without competing with other businesses within their industry.

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