The purpose of the Customer Analysis section of your business plan is to help you take an in-depth look at who is likely to purchase your products or services. Through your Customer Analysis, you can determine who your customers are, what they need and what drives them to make a purchase so you can design your marketing plans around those drivers.
Doing the research for your Customer Analysis can be a very eye-opening experience. Some business owners never conduct this study of their customers, instead assuming that they already know everything they need to know about their customers based on what they themselves want in a product.
To do a thorough analysis, you’ll want to cover three important points:
- Discovering your target customer profile–who exactly are these people?
- Understanding what your targeted customers really need
- Defining how your products and services satisfy those needs
Discovering Your Target Customer Profile
The first step in your Customer Analysis is to determine who your customers are. Who is most likely to buy your product in the future and who is currently buying these types of products? Where do they now buy these products? What motivates them to make this purchase? Price? Location? Return policies? Be as specific as you can—-age, gender, geographic location, economic status. Grouping your customers into segments can help you make marketing, pricing and customer service decisions. Once you understand who your customers are, figure out what their value drivers are—what factors into their purchase decisions. What is most important to them: price, quality, convenience?
Who’s the Buyer and Who’s the User?
One thing to consider when identifying your customers is that the person buying your product and the person using it are not necessarily the same person. For example, women do not buy flowers and diamonds for themselves as often as their husbands and boyfriends do. Your marketing efforts directed toward the person buying the product should be different than those directed at the end user. On the other hand, some end users, like children, put considerable pressure on the customer—their parents—to buy the product, so in this case marketing efforts would be directed more at the end user.
Determining What Your Customers Need
Understanding what your customer needs is the first order of business. Step back from your assumptions and do an impartial survey of what your targeted customers really need. An easy way to do this is by creating a customer mailing list and sending an email that simply asks them. Let the market tell you what it needs. You can also do a survey, using an online survey app like SurveyMonkey. Include a link to the survey in your customer email. Collect enough responses to make the survey worthwhile, then evaluate your assumptions versus what your customers are really telling you they need.
Designing your products, pricing and marketing efforts with your customers in mind puts you in a far better position to win their patronage.
Back Up Your Customer Knowledge with Facts
Back up your findings with statistics to give them weight. Discuss your past sales or cite industry average sales data, discuss survey results and explain the implications of your research. Your job here is to justify to yourself and to your readers that you fully understand your customer. By including as much detail as possible of who your customers are, what they need and how you give it to them, your Customer Analysis will be a robust and valuable tool that can help put you–and keep you–on the right track.
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