Strategic Planning: Understand Your Customers - dummies

Strategic Planning: Understand Your Customers

By Erica Olsen

While developing your strategic plan is a good time to research more about why your customers buy products from your company or use your services. Ultimately, the value you provide is only as good as the benefits the customer receives. Your strategy excels or fails on that perception or lack thereof.

If you ask companies what they sell and then turn around and survey their customers to ask what they buy, you’ll most likely hear two different answers. Generally, customers give you a different answer or express it in a different way than the company. Quickly query a handful of your customers to see whether this trend holds true for your organization. Here are some questions to ask, crafted to your company specifically:

  • Who buys our products or services?

  • What do they buy?

  • Why do they buy?

  • When do they buy?

  • How do they buy?

Take Netflix, an online DVD rental service, for example. Employees may say that Netflix sells a service that allows customers to check out and return DVD rentals through the mail or by streaming DVDs online. Conversely, customers may say that they’re buying convenience.

In order to see your business through the eyes of your most valuable customers, you have to understand what your customers think they’re really buying from you. You have to think like your customers. Answers to these questions can be found in information and feedback all around you. Some of that information is easy to get and some takes a bit more work.