TIPS & TRICKS

Seven Questions to Ask Your Customers

Joshua Cook, Chief Branding Navigator

24 April 2017

Do you think potential customers care about what you do?

Most customers don’t. Unless you can solve their challenges, that is.

Not taking steps to get to know the customer will result in endless rambling about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. And, frankly, at the core, our customers don’t really care about those things. They care about their challenges, and what we do only matters if it solves those challenges.

We’ve all been subjected to those brutal advertisements, droning on about how great the company is, omitting the details about why we, the customer, should care. Those ads yell at the customer rather than converse with the customer, and are a giant waste of time, money, and energy.

Customers are concerned with one thing: how our products and services solve their challenges. To speak that language, you must understand the customer.

What have you done lately to better understand your customers?

Let’s be honest: we can usually do more than we are doing to understand our customers. We could spend more time reviewing our Buyer Personas, or talking to our employees about their interactions with the customers. Or, better yet, we ourselves could take some time to ask our customers questions. After all, who better to tell us about our customer than our customer?

Customers are often a question, wrapped in a riddle, coated in a conundrum. They seek products to solve their challenges, while sometimes not understanding what the actual challenge is. For some, saving money or time is the challenge, which is simple to understand; for others, prestige may be the challenge, which may not be easily understood. It is your job to find and understand the customers’ challenges – only then can you properly market your business.

Here are seven questions to better understand your customers and improve your marketing strategies:

 

1. Why did you purchase our product or service?

Let’s start simple.

Asking your customer why they purchased your product or service will give high-level insight into the third stage (decision) and fourth stage (action) of the “Customer Buying Process”.

(If you aren’t sure what the Customer Buying Process is, check out this article.)

What we hope to learn is what were they thinking at the time of purchase. Were you the cheapest option? Did you have the best selection? Was there a feature you offer that no one else offers?

What closed the deal?

 

2. What challenge were you trying to solve?

Time to dig a little deeper. The customer may have answered simply in our first question – after all, we asked a simple question.

Nearly every purchase is an attempt to solve a challenge – this is the “Interest” stage of the customer buying process. Before the customer decided on purchasing your product, what challenge were they looking to solve?

Remember: some challenges are obvious, some challenges are subconscious, and some challenges the customer may not want to talk about. The challenge of being hungry may be easily talked about, whereas the challenge of wanting the most expensive car on the street may be hidden below the surface. Get whatever information you can.

 

3. What led to this challenge?

We dig deeper, and deeper still.

Consider that the customer may not have always had this challenge. What made them realize that they had a challenge in the first place?

This relates to the first stage of the customer buying process: the “Attention” stage.

Let’s look at an example:

A professional takes a job out of town and increases their commute time. Now, with less spare time, they are less able to go golfing.

The challenge was created because of a thriving career. The challenge itself is a shortage of time.

The business owner may want to market create a marketing campaign that caters to career-oriented golfers who must commute, but who still want to golf on a regular basis.

Seek out why the challenge exists, and you will understand more about your ideal customer, and how to speak with them.

 

4. Why is this challenge important?

Considering the example above, it is easy to assume the challenge is important because that person likes to golf, but their challenge may be deeper than that.

Is that person worried about spending less time with their family? Or are they competitive and don’t want their skills to become rusty? What is the underlying reason that their challenge matters to them?

Remember, challenges come in all shapes and size, and apply to both consumers and business clients.

 

5. How does this challenge affect others in your life?

Customer challenges can affect many people. Coworkers, bosses, family members, friends – an individual challenge can impact all of them, and leveraging this information can help create a powerful message.

Consider how you could target an advertisement if you knew these three things were true of your customers:

  1. Your actual customer holds a junior role within their company.
  2. Your product could reduce operating costs while also reducing the time it takes to complete the task.
  3. Your customer’s current solution (i.e. not your product) requires the customer and their boss to work late into the evening once a week to ensure the task is completed correctly. Your product would eliminate this extra time they put it.

How could you leverage this information, knowing that the boss is immediately effected by the challenge?

Bonus points are awarded if you realize the “Boss” could be a new Buyer Persona! (Not sure what a Buyer Persona is? Check out our template!)

 

6. How did we solve your challenge better than the competitors?

This question will either give you gold, or a lump of coal. Both are useful.

If you are the best option on the block, great! Your customers will tell you why they think so, which indicates what is important to them. You can then leverage that information in your marketing materials.

If you aren’t the best, fine! Your customers will tell you why, and you can seek out improvements to what you do, how you do it, and the way you market yourself.

 

7. How could our product or service better solve your challenge?

This is a continuation of question 6, and is important whether or not your customers already love you. There is always room for improvement, and you should keep your finger on the pulse of what the customers want.

Customers are an excellent source of market research. After all, many customers conduct research on a product before making the purchase, and they may have some tidbits of industry trends or new products that you haven’t seen yet.

 

Look for trends across the answers. Are there similarities in the data you collect? Perhaps a significant percentage of your clientele has similar challenges, or they share the same goals.

How can you use this information to converse with your customers?

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

About the Author

Joshua Cook
Chief Branding Navigator

Josh is a passionate marketer, founder of Creative Compass, and general caffeine addict. Building on 13 years of experience working with brands like Toyota, Samsung, and The Macallan scotch, Josh aims to provide entrepreneurs with marketing materials to help them build their own something amazing.

Looking for help with marketing fundamentals? Shoot Josh an email!

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