Updated: Oct 25
"what others think of you is none of your business"
I love that quote on a personal level, but as a business owner it DOES really matter what people think about you and the business you run.
Have you ever been surprised to find out what people really think?
Big companies already know that listening to the customer is of vital importance.
Millions are spent on customer listening programmes, customer satisfaction surveys & finding out what people want next.
There may be examples of businesses that have built incredible new products with little input from the customer.
For example Henry Ford founder of The Ford Motor Company, is reputed to have said:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
We all know that instead he created the Ford motor.
But for most businesses though it pays to try and create the product or service that your customer will really value.
How Can You Know What A Customer Wants?
If you are an established business owner then I highly recommend carrying out an exercise that I run regularly on my own testimonials and written feedback.
Go through all of your reviews, whether you collect them on Linkedin, Facebook or Google My Business and highlight the words that people use most frequently to describe you or your product.
These are highly occurring words or phrases that people have used about me, my 121 sessions or workshops.
Understood the needs of my business
Took the time to understand
Realistic and manageable suggestions
Wealth of knowledge
Clear concise manageable marketing plan
Specific to our needs
A true marketing professional
Easy to understand
Explains the value of each action
Helped making your mind up
Pleasure to work with
Relaxed and informal teaching style
Great marketing specialist
All you need to do is copy and paste all your reviews into a word document and then go through them with a highlighter to find the words that are repeated.
It stands to reason that the next time I put together a workshop it needs to reflect the words that are used above.
How about for you? What do your customers value the most?
Methods of asking for feedback
I really hope that you do already ask for feedback on a regular basis. But if you'd like a few suggestions of how you could go about it then:
Create a customer survey and email a link to people
This method benefits from making people feel their feedback is more anonymous. I'd recommend a tool like Survey Monkey which is free to use for basic surveys. You can create simple visual outputs from your data, bar charts, pie graphs etc. This data can all be used in your sales collateral or marketing materials.
Ask people directly
If you work closely with your clients and feel you have a good enough relationship, why not ask them how they feel about the work you are doing directly? To be honest, if you are working with someone you will probably have a good feeling anyway for how they feel about things. But people can surprise you!
Direct clients to leave a review
Depending on the field you work in, and your business type, it may make sense to ask for a LinkedIn testimonial or a Google My Business review. These have the benefit of being visible to new customers or anyone curious about working with you. Of course, if you read anything in these reviews you feel is unfair, you can always respond and see if you can help resolve any issues for people.
There is of course the wider world out there and I am coming onto that next.
What Do People Think Of My Business Online?
You might like to go further to see what is out there about your business. Some simple ways of doing this are:
Search on Google
Just pop your name or business name into Google and you will find any recent mentions. It is always a good idea to know how you appear on Google as a small business or indeed big business.
Set up a Google alert
You can find out whenever someone mentions your business name by setting up a Google alert.
It all depends on how much you think people are likely to be talking about your business or brand, but for anything new you are doing, or to check for any negative mentions a quick Twitter search can be useful. If you ever find # your name trending, it's good to find out why!
The Importance of Language
By understanding the language that your customers use about you, you can evaluate whether you are doing well, or needing an overhaul.
By reading the comments people leave, you can figure out what is important to them.
Sometimes it is possible to miss an important message if it comes just from one person, but repeatedly used words add up to meaning something & that needs to be noted.
I hope this article has been helpful for you.
Thanks for reading.
P.S If you would like to receive blogs like this straight to your inbox you can sign up here for my mailing list. I mail once per week on a Friday.
For even more low cost marketing ideas why not buy my book?
If you would like even more low cost marketing ideas I wrote a book. 100 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners. Check it out here
Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Consultancy based in SE London.
Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.