Customers are Key To Grow Your BusinessJanuary, 24 2013
Leaders are under pressure to create organic, sustainable growth. If you don’t grow your business, you will be left behind. You can do one of two things: look for new customers or hold onto the customers you already have.
Bill Lee, contributor to HBR Blog Network, says he found companies who attract buyers in today’s world develop new approaches and competencies that focus on one thing: Customers. “In particular, getting customers to market and sell for you,” he says.
He provides five approaches for leaders to try.
Make Your Customers Brand Advocates
Potential customers trust their peers so get them to advocate for you. To do this, Lee suggests:
- Find the core of customers who are passionate about your brand
- Ask them how likely they would be to recommend your brand to a colleague or friend
- Make it easy for them to recommend your product and/or service
- Use today’s technologies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Yelp.
Find Customer Product Developers
Lee says the source for most of the commercially successful new products is customers. This is the opposite of what we hear from leaders such as Steve Jobs. Jobs was innovative and created what Apple customers didn’t know they needed.
Lee’s approach is to get ideas from your customers. He uses 3M medical-surgical business as an example. After they had a series of disappointing products, key executives realized some of the firm’s greatest innovations in the past had come from customers not their internal product developers.
They developed a process to bypass internal product developers and find such customers. In the end these customers generated eight times the revenue from internally generated products. Every company is different but find what works for you and don’t be afraid to ask your customers for help.
Learn What Your Customers Value
When you connect with customers, let them know you listen and you care about their needs. It also provides you with feedback and ways you can improve your products or services. Companies that make the effort will put a distance between themselves and their competitors.
Lee provides the example of Southwest Airlines. They excelled in a few value factors: Cheap fares, friendly service, frequent flights, and on-time departures. This formed passionate advocates, fast growth, and large profits.
Focus on Customer Advocacy
Lee suggests, rather than develop a social media strategy or big data strategy, ask yourself, “What growth challenge are we focusing on and how can we best engage our customer advocates to help us meet it?”
Figure out how to tap into customer advocates. Properly engaged customers will sell and market for you, participate in your community building efforts, spread positive word of mouth, provide valuable input into product development and firm strategy.
Everyone wants customer advocates, but few put in the work to make it happen. Honor your customer relationships to make that happen. Recognize the value of relationships and invest in them because true advocacy cannot be developed without them.
How do you turn customers into advocates?
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