Are you sure you’re reaching the right customer? If you're not sure, you might not be leveraging customer research. Roshni Wijayasinha, Founder & CEO of Prosh Marketing, explains how to use customer research as a marketing strategy and the importance of timing when targeting the right customer.
(02:19) - Roshni talks about the three ways you can reach your customer: brand awareness, conducting customer research, and utilizing digital tools.
(03:50) - Why timing is crucial in finding the right customer
(06:00) - Why you should continuously adapt your strategies and the importance of direct communication with customers.
[00:00:00] Roshni: For me, finding the right customer at the right time means really starting with understanding your business stage. So, for example, if you're just starting out, you'll want people who are willing to take risks. And try new products and try new things. So you have to first start with understanding your business stage, and then you have to look at your value proposition and who really can benefit from that value. And then you'll also have to figure out where they are in their buying cycle as well. Because as customers, we go through awareness, interest, desire, and we finally end up in action. So by the time we figure out what stage we're in, we've got to match that up with our business value proposition and find the right customer ultimately that wants your product at the time and fits your business needs as well.
[00:00:43] Andrea: Okay, so first you have to figure out what stage your business is in, then figure out what your value proposition is, and lastly figure out who can best benefit from that value proposition. But once I've got all that figured out, how do I find my customer? Let’s get into it.
[00:01:00] Host: Hi, This is Small Business, a podcast by Amazon. I’m your host, Andrea Marquez. This is one of our Minisodes, which are shorter episodes packed with helpful information for those of you who want a quicker binge. On this episode we'll be talking about customer research as an effective marketing strategy for small businesses with Roshni Wijayasinha, Founder & CEO of Prosh Marketing. To learn more about her visit our website at thisissmallbusinesspodcast.com. Also, remember that if you want to hear your story on This is Small Business, we have a voicemail line where you can ask questions or share your entrepreneurial story. We want to hear from you! Find the link to the voicemail line in the episode description.
[00:01:42] Roshni: My background has always been in marketing. I fell in love with marketing at an early age, and I worked at agencies, some large technology businesses, and found my way into the startup world, where I fell in love with the ability to really build and create things from scratch. And since, I've been head of marketing at a couple of different startups, I helped them exit, [00:02:00] and then I built my own marketing consulting practice, where we offer fractional CMO work for tech startups. Which is basically part time head of marketing for companies that can't afford or don't need a full-time head of marketing.
[00:02:10] Andrea: So Roshni, jumping in to the topic here, once I figure out who my customer is, how do I make sure that they know I exist?
[00:02:18] Roshni: Yeah, so the first stage is really brand awareness. That's when customers learn about your product, and that's, for a small business, usually the best place to start. Because if no one's heard of you, how could they want you and eventually want to buy you? So from a customer journey perspective, you really have to spend extra time on building that awareness. Now, how do you figure out where the customer might be? Some of the places that you might think about thinking and researching are: where are they on social media? Where are they in their physical world? What are they doing in the digital space? And the way that I work with our customers to kind of figure out where these things are is I do customer research. So I love to talk to actual customers, interview them, learn a bit more about what their processes are.
[00:03:00] Sometimes I might even follow them along for a day, or follow them along in a B2B setting, and see what they're up to, and that gives me a lot of clues in terms of what they're actually doing. When we ask customers to report it themselves, they often don't necessarily see all of the small things that they do, so just by observing you can learn a lot. There are a lot of really great digital tools that have allowed small businesses to now access customer research. You could go in and put in your qualification criteria, and they will actually match you up with people who are in that target audience. And you can access these customers, learn a ton about them, and spend that one-on-one time with them to research and learn more.
[00:03:38] Andrea: What do you think timing has to do with finding the right customer?
[00:03:40] Roshni: Timing has almost everything to do with your ability to convert the right customer. So you might find the right customer early in their journey, but if they're not ready for you, or if you're not ready for them, it might not be the best fit. So, you really have to think about, are you ready for them? For example, again, in the startup environment, if you're super early, [00:04:00] you don't want to begin a big, big customer as your first person to test out the product because if it goes badly, you've soured a huge relationship and they're probably less risk averse. Whereas if you can bring in, if it's a B2B product, for example, some, a smaller client who's willing to test and learn with you, that can be a great growing together and you can offer them a deal. So, finding out, you know, if they're good with your business stage is good. And then again, you have to look at what stage they're in as well. So, if they're in the shopping around phase, then they're ready to buy. Then if you were able to find them at that time, then it's a lot easier from a marketing perspective to help close and convert them.
[00:04:38] Andrea: And doing all that user research that we talked about earlier helps me find out at what stage they're in, right?
[00:04:44] Roshni: So that's the first component. You can get some research and understand what is their journey, and you can put that together in a customer journey map. And a customer journey map is just a simple way of breaking down all of the different stages that the customer goes to. So for example, if I'm taking a store example, [00:05:00] the customer is at home discovering they have a problem. The customer has to travel to the store. The customer is probably looking at a couple of different stores and shopping around, then goes back and makes their purchase and then brings it home. So in each of these opportunities and stages, there's a different type of messaging that you can provide to help your customer. But ultimately, if you get them on their way into the store, That's the best time to try to convert them. So you need to figure out where in that customer journey they're right about to buy. And that way, if you're able to intercept them at that point, you have the highest chances of conversion.
[00:05:30] Andrea: So knowing your customer journey is super important and we actually covered that in the first episode of this season. So, Roshni, do you have any other tips that small business owners can use to find the right customer at the right time for their product?
[00:05:43] Roshni: I think the idea that a marketer can't live in a glass tower, you have to actually talk to customers is the king pin for all of this. And so trying to find the information online or trying to substitute it with digital data can be great to a certain limit, [00:06:00] but without actually talking to customers, it can be challenging. And then the other bit is this type of information changes all the time, so you can't just do this and then set it and forget it, because customers are changing. Imagine our behavior before the pandemic and after the pandemic. Now digital buying is so much more common, right? People get their groceries delivered to them, and this behavior now is everyday behavior. So if you sit on your data and your customer research, and you just build, and now you think that this is the way customers are, you're forgetting that customers and markets evolve over time. So, it's something that's always changing, and something that you should, even as a business owner, as a marketer, as anyone in an organization, just have your pulse on the customer.
[00:06:40] Andrea: So we have to see this as something continuous. And also making sure that we’re visible to our customer enough.
[00:06:48] Roshni: So repetition is hugely important. But again, if you're repeating yourself at the bottom end of your marketing funnel on things which are super expensive, it can be really, really budget draining for a small business, [00:07:00] whereas if you're doing that repetition at the top end of the marketing funnel on tactics like public relations, where it's more cost effective per impression, you can get a lot more reach, and therefore you can be a lot more effective.
My biggest advice to small business owners is I know you have to manage your cash flow from a marketing perspective, and I know that it can seem very attractive to really focus on the bottom end of your marketing funnel where you can get sales and conversions immediately, and you can track it, but I cannot overstate the value of brand awareness and building that as a growing business because that brings loyalty, that brings long term customer value and life cycles, that brings referral business, that brings word of mouth, that brings so much more and so investing in brand awareness, though it might feel like a long term investment and it might feel like something you want to push off once you've built a good sales base, is something that you should start from day one.
[00:07:50] Host: That was Roshni Wijayasinha, Founder & CEO of Prosh Marketing. She talked about doing diligent customer research for small businesses. [00:08:00] As always, here are some quick key takeaways from this episode:
- One. Finding the right customer at the right time starts by understanding what business stage you’re in. So before you even reach out to any customers, know if you’re too early to reach out to your biggest customer, or maybe you’re right on time. But timing is a key component of locking loyal customers and getting them to first decide to buy, but also to keep them coming back.
- Two. A way to figure all of this out and understand at what stage your customer is in, is customer research. Roshni talked about the importance of continuously speaking with your customers and learning about their lives and what value you can offer them. There are a lot of tools that allow you to do this and where you can target your ideal audience. Make sure that you're constantly updating the customer research that you've done. Humans are dynamic and their needs are constantly changing, so to succeed you need to try and stay ahead of the curve. Roshni gave us an example of pre-pandemic versus post-pandemic customer behavior differences.
- [00:09:00] Three. Repetition is also key. When it comes to brand awareness, it takes frequent touch points for a potential customer to even decide to consider you at all. Roshni suggests managing cash flow from a marketing perspective. Brand awareness is what leads to much more than just one and done purchases, it can lead to repeat customers too.
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Until next time – This is Small Business, I'm your host Andrea Marquez -- Hasta luego -- and thanks for listening! [00:09:58]