Tag Archives: knowing your customer

Building a small business into a big business

If you think of a very successful company these days and perhaps draw up a list of your top 10, Google and Apple are likely to feature very highly in most people’s lists.

Now Apple has been around for some time but over the past decade they have really come into their own, even surpassing Microsoft in the latest company valuations.  Google on the other hand is a relative newcomer but has completely redefined the Internet age.  Think of the Internet, and you think of Google, its as simple as that.

Both companies have been very successful and they have done this by focusing on their customers.  This might sound half-hearted and you may be thinking “surely every business focuses on their customers”.  You may be right there, that good businesses focus on their customers but it is a question of degree and perseverance.

Take Google.  Their original aim was simply to create a better way of getting to the information you want online.  Back when they started off, the best you could expect was to trawl through a good directory listing or hope that your search term was popular within Altavista or Yahoo to get relevant results.  Google built an algorithm that made their systems work smarter to find exactly what you were after based on their popular PageRank method.  This algorithm ranked pages based on their content and popularity and then matched this to what you were searching for.  It was almost an immediate hit and the results you’d get from Google were far closer to what you were searching for than what you would get from the other older search engines.

Then came the monitization part.  Simple effective text-based ads on the side of search results directly related to what you were searching for – or in marketing speak – targeted advertising with a capital T.  Better targeting meant less money wasted on advertising to those not remotely looking for your product or service.

So they not only gave the public the capability to find exactly what they were looking for online, but also gave advertisers an excellent way of targeting the customers they were looking for.

And then there’s Apple.  Apple has done brilliantly across almost their entire product range due to a growing customer base that is converted into a loyal customer base.  Their product ranges work easily, sync easily, look stunning, problems are dealt with quickly.  You’ll find most Apple users will not just be content with one Apple device in their homes.  They’ll have an iMac, an iPad, an iPhone and perhaps more.

Its about being great at every customer touch-point.  Apple are great at new product announcements, they make products easy to purchase, each item has a rich-feature set, is intuitive to setup and use.  Regardless of all this, problems are inevitable but then Apple also has renowned customer support.  All this reflects in the money Apple users spend with the company, be it on the products or after-sale apps on their phones and tablets.

This is what you need to emulate to dramatically reduce the time it takes to go from small to big.  You don’t need lots of cash in your armory, but you do need the smarts to ride along the entire customer journey yourself and focus a lot of your energy on where the customer touch-points are, i.e. where do you or your staff interact with customers.  Crack these points along the customer journey, making them painless for both you and them and you’ve just made your plans for the big time that much simpler.

Think positive, set realistic goals and above all get off your behind and start taking action.  This is where the real results will come from.

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