In these uncertain times, is research a luxury you can’t afford?
Simply put, no. Understanding your customers is now more important than ever. You also need to understand your ex-customers (to find out why they went away – you may be able to fix a problem easily); your never-became-customers (i.e. those you’ve given quotes to, but who didn’t buy – do you really know why?); your potential customers – to find out what they want.
Now more than ever your customers will be looking for the best value (not necessarily the cheapest supplier), the suppliers that give them the most confidence and meet their needs most closely, and the suppliers that can help them enhance their own businesses. They will be watching the pennies more, so you need to provide what they want as closely as possible.
Every penny you spend on marketing has to work and generate payback – you may well be monitoring where your business is coming from and therefore assume you’re spending your money wisely, but do you know where it’s being wasted? Maybe you’re throwing half of it away. Maybe there is a whole segment of other customers out there who need to be approached differently – perhaps with a different message, or through different media.
Your competitors may be looking at their budgets and deciding now is not the time to be spending on expensive marketing – so now’s your chance to get ahead of the game!
Your competitors may be saving money on research, and therefore not be as wise as you are about how customers’ needs are changing. This could well be the time to get an edge over them. You only need a small advantage:
There’s a story about two hikers out in the wilds. One suddenly sits down, takes off his hiking boots and puts on a pair of running shoes. His companion asks him why. “We’re getting into grizzly bear country” came the reply.
“But that’s ridiculous - you can’t outrun a grizzly bear!” says the companion.
“I don’t need to – I just need to outrun you.”
Maybe a little bit of research would equip you to outrun your competitors while they’re busy being worried about times being tough. A little bit of money spent on some simple, quick research will pay for itself many times over.