If you haven’t read Jeff Bezos’ latest letter to his shareholders, put it on your to-do list pronto. There are many takeaways from his letter, but one that stands out to me most is this: “Obsess over customers, not competitors.”

Most companies are obsessed with their competitors. Their mission statements might suggest that they are dedicated to their customers, but in reality, all they do is constantly check up on what their rivals in business are up to and try to emulate them. Here’s the thing though. What works for their competitors, may not work for them even if they are in the same space. Moreover, it won’t work for their customers. The key to success is not to copy, match or one-up the rival. It lies in listening to your customer.

It is critical that brands develop complete empathy with customers to succeed and grow. This is not for overnight success and profit, but for genuine and sustainable growth. 

The reasons to look out for:

 

  • You don’t know whether their digital presence is what they want it to be. They may be working on a redesign themselves to better service their audience’s needs.
  • You lack context for the decisions your competition has made and why they have been made. And context is critical to understanding any business decision.
  • You might have the same general target market as your competition, but the devil is in the details, and your competition may have refined their vision for the future focus of their business.
  • You don’t know whether your competition’s customers are happy with the digital experience and communication they are receiving.

 

At the end of the day, it’s your customers who have the best idea of what is good and bad about your services. It’s your customers who buy your products; and for better or worse, it’s your customers who will keep you in business.

Let’s start getting to know your customers, as intimately as possible. In fact, obsess over them.

There many ways you will find on web to go about. To start with, we have three questions for you.

Who are your customers?

A great place to start any customer discovery is with a look at demographics and psychographics to understand more about the type of individuals buying from a business.

This information provides a sense of the prevailing trends governing the types of individuals interested in particular products or service.

Where are they from?

How old are they?

How much money do they make?

What interests do they have?

Where do they get their information?

What drives their behavior?

Once you understand a bit about your customer demographics, it’s time to learn what’s driving their behavior. One way to do this is through Empathy Mapping, a collaborative exercise that helps teams to synthesize insights and data they already have to create a full picture of your audience and motivations.

What are they doing?

Dig into your existing data to understand how your customers interact with you online. Some basics include Google Analytics to understand where they are and what they do on your site; Social Platform Analytics to grasp how they engage with you socially across platforms; and Heat Mapping tools to see where their attention is focused page-by-page on your site.

What are they saying?

Analyze the content and sentiment from your social channels, industry and product forums, and review sites. The places where your customers spend time dialoguing and communicating.

There is some work. It takes time and money and energy. But you know what’s even more taxing on your resources? Getting your strategy wrong, building the wrong product; providing the wrong experience; communicating ineffectively with your market.

Even a fraction of above investigation, you will be blown away by the amount you learn. You will discover something new about your customers that will impact your digital strategy. And it will be much more powerful than copying your competition. So, let’s start the obsession.

Entrepreneur, Investor, Mentor (Strategy & Marketing)
CEO at Unspun Consulting Group