There’s a lot of talk today about making connections with your customers; about speaking to them in their language, reaching out to them in their worlds, and providing them with the value they’re looking for.But why do ‘real customer connections’ matter? Is there a quantifiable business benefit to going the extra mile with your customers?
As a business leader, you know that your company only exists because you have customers. You also know that some customers are more valuable than others — and identifying your most valuable customer segments is vital for growing your business.
You can’t accelerate growth without focus – and without focus you don’t have a niche. And without a niche, you lay yourself open to competition from all sides, because your customers can’t see how you are differentiated and the specific value you deliver.
Here are the 7 steps to build a core positioning to own your niche:
1. Know Your Purpose
Simon Sinek’s Start With Why prompted many business owners to fundamentally re-think their strategies, based on the question ‘Why do we do what we do?’
So, why the ‘why’? Well, for a start it gives the business and everyone inside a more significant purpose than just driving towards sales figures. It will keep you going on good days, and get you out of bed on bad days. It gives the team something to rally around and be proud of. And it helps you to connect with your customer – so your relationship means more to them than just a transaction. It will also guide your decision-making and help you identify what’s aligned with your purpose and what isn’t.
- A tip: stretch for the stars. You want a purpose for your business that makes you feel uncomfortable (in a good way).
2. Know Your Strengths
What is your business known for amongst your competitors? Ask your customers how they would describe you, what attracts them to you, what caused them to choose you over your competition.
Understanding your strengths helps you to be crystal clear on your business superpowers. By understanding your strengths, you’ll be able to define where you play & where you don’t play as a business.
- A tip: What’s your business’s biggest strength? Is it the technology you’ve created? Is it the way you deliver an extraordinary customer experience? Is it how you bring together a few simple things to make it the best damn offer ever? Answering this question will go a long way to helping you connect better with customers.
- What are you doing where you are the very best? How are you best? Does your target market see you as clearly the best in your strength areas?
3. Know Your Goals
What does success look like for your business? No, I don’t mean just a financial number – break it down into something tangible that’s easy to talk about across the business, such as your ideal number of customers and their average size of purchase (ARPU).
Goal setting guides your entire organisation’s focus across the short, medium and long term. You might have an annual goal — break it down by quarter & keep tabs on a monthly basis. This helps everyone in the business create their own goals that link to the overall business goals. A concrete goal gives everyone the ability to create a concrete action plan.
- A tip: Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Time-bound) goals that people can understand, and learn to link goals so that individual goals connect with the greater goal of your organisation.
4. Know Your Market
Who is in your market? Find out what potential customers consider and compare when making a purchase decision. Do customers in your market compare identical products in your niche, or do they compare a range of products, forcing you to compete for share of wallet?
Defining your market is like learning a sport: it helps you understand the rules & how to break them. You can define yourself in the context of the category and what makes you different. Businesses that try to appeal to everybody and do little to differentiate themselves often struggle to explain what they do. Buyers need a context & a way to compare you to other options. If you understand your market, your customers and the latest trends, you understand how to stand out.
- A tip: If you’re in a well-established market, start looking for opportunities to disrupt. If you are looking at creating a new category or market, work out how to provide a context so consumers understand the benefits you provide.
5. Know Your Customer
What does your business’s ideal customer look like? The first step is to define them at a high level – the type of business they work in and what their challenges are. If you have different decision makers, you may want to build out multiple buyer personas over time. This is where you’ll go deeper into their pain points, what keeps them up at night, how they make decisions & how you can serve them.
If you don’t know who your customers are and what matters to them, you can’t help them – whether you have ambitions of being a trusted advisor or whether you want a business owner to use your SaaS product on a daily basis.
- A tip: If you’ve defined your purpose, strengths, goals and market, your customer should align to these. If your purpose, strengths or market don’t speak to your customer, you’re targeting the wrong person.
6. Know Your Value
Providing value is the only reason someone will buy from you. Your value proposition is a very simple way to describe who you are targeting, and why your offer solves their problem in a unique and meaningful way.
Knowing your value helps you to connect with your customers and helps them engage with your story. It also assists you in prioritising the benefits that really matter when you have a conversation – whether digital or in person.
- A tip: Your value springboards from your purpose, goals, customers and market – by making your home in this context, you’ll be able to identify what your customers really value. You also might have different angle on value for each persona – depending on their pain points and needs.
7. Know the Action to Take
What’s next? Well, now that you know which way is up, you are ready to take action. All of these elements provides you with your true North – use these as a guardrail of where to focus & what to do. Remember, strategy is important – but without implementation it’s just an idea.
- A tip: Based on your goals, identify the single most important thing to focus on for growing the business. Do it consistently to connect with your customer – don’t give up, and keep learning from your mistakes. The more you focus by connecting your purpose, strengths, goals, customer and value, the closer you will get to owning your niche.
Humanisation can help you realise the value you provide, identify your ideal target market and craft a strategy that helps you connect with them on a human level.
Cat Williams-Treloar founded Humanisation, a Human-Centered Marketing Consultancy. Humanisation was born to help startups make a human impact in a digital world as they Go-To-Market across APAC.