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Acknowledging that you don’t really know your customer is not only a revolution in mindset but a vital one—and perhaps the most challenging to accept. Accepting this premise is the linchpin of your ability to lead a team that creates an effective marketing strategy that drives specific, guaranteed outcomes.

Embracing this truth is a journey that every CEO and marketing leader with tenure must take. You believe on some level that you know more about your customers than anyone externally possibly could, because you live, eat, and breathe your business. I’ve been there. But the truth is you can’t possibly know everything you need to know because you are far too close to your business. You are wonderfully biased and subjective.

You can’t possibly see all of the friction in your sales process or the lack of alignment between your sales and marketing messaging when you have been instrumental in putting them together. You likely struggle to appreciate why a customer would choose your competition because you love your company. From a research perspective, that’s the kiss of death. Here your passion doesn’t help. You need objectivity—miles of objectivity— and your results-guaranteed marketing strategy is banking on that objectivity.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Why? Because the answer to guaranteed outcomes lies in that research.

Ten insights every CEO and marketing leader should know about their customers.

  • Their motivations, desires & emotional triggers: True understanding goes beyond demographics, encompassing psychographics (or attitudes), motivations, and desires. You must dive into the emotional triggers that drive your customers’ decisions. For instance, consider the emotional trigger of FOMO (fear of missing out), where customers are driven by the fear of missing exclusive offers and experiences or limited-time opportunities. Alternatively, think about the emotional trigger of exclusivity, where customers are drawn to products or services that make them feel like part of an exclusive club. And don’t forget the emotional trigger of belonging and community, where customers are motivated by the desire to connect with like-minded individuals who share their values and interests. These emotional triggers can guide your marketing strategy and help you create meaningful connections with your audience.

  • Why lost customers really chose to part ways: Customers who’ve left can provide critical feedback for improvement—and often the reason they provide just scratches the surface. Understand the actual root cause of why they chose to part ways, and use this information to refine your offerings and delivery. The most effective strategy for uncovering this information is to use a third-party research firm, as your lost customers are more likely to open up to an objective observer who commits to maintaining their confidentiality.

  • What’s stopping prospective customers from becoming loyal customers: Understanding customer barriers is key to converting leads. Imagine a scenario where prospective customers hesitate due to uncertainty about a product’s quality or effectiveness. Addressing this barrier can involve providing transparent product reviews, case studies, or even free trials to build trust and confidence. Additionally, consider situations where price sensitivity is a significant barrier. Offering discounts, bundling options, or flexible payment plans can help overcome this obstacle. Some potential customers might be concerned about the complexity of using your product or service. Providing easy-to-follow tutorials, user-friendly interfaces, and exceptional customer support can remove this barrier, making the conversion process smoother. By identifying and addressing these customer barriers, you can significantly enhance your lead conversion rate.

  • Why customers choose you over competitors: Analyze the unique value propositions that set you apart. Understand competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and any gaps that exist in the market. Identify opportunities to outperform rivals and seize market share. All of this can be uncovered through current, lost, and prospective customer interviews and surveys.

  • How much market share you really have: What are your customers really spending with you versus competitors and why? A well-crafted customer and prospect survey can provide you with this transparency.

  • Current customer pain points: What are they hiding from you so as not to make waves? Here again, your current and lost customer interviews and surveys can be leveraged to uncover these insights.

  • Customer segmentation opportunities: The more effectively you segment your target market, the more effectively you can personalize messaging to them. Market research allows you to pinpoint these customer segmentation nuances that could make all the difference in the return on your marketing investment. It allows you to create detailed customer profiles to target your messaging accurately.

  • Evolving needs: Customer needs change over time and staying informed is crucial. You must regularly monitor customer preferences and adapt your offerings accordingly. While a large-scale customer survey may only be needed every three to five years, a short version could be sent out quarterly.

  • The customer journey: What is the typical journey of a prospective customer who lands at your door? What does every typical touchpoint look like along the way? Your prospects’ typical journey could look like this: They first meet your team at a trade show where they begin following your brand on social media. Then they visit your website where they download an ebook and sign up for a free webinar. Then they check your online reviews. They conclude by booking a call with the sales team. Once you’ve identified the typical prospect journey, ask yourself if they are getting the information they want when, how, and where they want it. Are they feeling friction in the process? Are you losing customers at one particular stop along the way?

  • What they really think about your positioning: What you may think is an important point of differentiation may not matter much to your customers. Find out what factors they rank as the most crucial to their buying decision and how an adjustment to your messaging could really break through.

By Lori Turner-Wilson, RedRover CEO/Founder, Internationally Best-Selling Author of The B2B Marketing RevolutionTM: A Battle Plan for Guaranteed Outcomes

Taking Action

Acknowledging that you don’t really know your customer is one of hundreds of best practices found in The B2B Marketing RevolutionTM: A Battle Plan for Guaranteed Outcomes the playbook that middle-market B2B CEOs and marketing leaders lean on to scale. Backed by a groundbreaking research study, this book offers time-tested best practices, indispensable KPIs for benchmarking, insights on where your dollars are best spent, and, above all, the proven 12 BattlesTM Framework for generating guaranteed marketing outcomes. The B2B Marketing RevolutionTM is a battle-hardened approach to becoming an outcomes-first leader who’s ready to shake up the status quo, invest in high-payoff market research and optimization, and — yes — even torch what’s not serving your endgame. 

If you’d like to talk about how to build a marketing engine that delivers predictable results — whether you want to build it yourself or tag in our team to lead the way — we’d be delighted to help you get started. Just book a call with Jee Vahn Knight, our VP of Strategy.

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Lori Turner-Wilson