What customers value most changes constantly, and the pace of change has increased exponentially with the economic recession, says marketing/management expert and best-selling author Jaynie L. Smith.
"The businesses who become relevant by addressing what customers really value at any given time will be the first ones out of the recession," says Smith, whose newest book is called Relevant Selling.
"One year ago, people were looking for financial stability in companies they were purchasing from because of all of the business closings," she says, citing surveys conducted by her company, Smart Advantage, Inc. "Now, on-time delivery outranks that because so many businesses cut back their inventory during the worst of the recession. With demand increasing, customers have more difficulty getting what they want on time."
Smith's company analyzed more than 150 customer surveys to learn why customers buy particular products or services from particular companies. It's an essential practice for any business owner during any economic cycle, Smith says, but most don't do it. Her analysis of 10 years of double-blind customer market research for more than 100 businesses revealed that, 90 percent of the time, most businesses do not know their customers' top values. They are often shocked to learn what is at the top of their customers' value list.
Smith offers these tips for getting to know your customers - and potential customers - so you can deliver what they want and adjust your sales and marketing message to become more relevant.
Jaynie L. Smith is CEO of Smart Advantage, Inc., a marketing/management consultancy whose clients range from mid-sized to Fortune 500 companies. She consults nationally and internationally with CEOs and executives to help them define their companies' competitive advantages. Her first book, Creating Competitive Advantage (Doubleday Currency; 2006), is in its 11th printing and is consistently ranked in the top 1 to 2 percent on Amazon.com for marketing and management books. She holds undergraduate and master's degrees from the New York Institute of Technology.
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