Why understanding customer motivation is key to business growth

12th Sep 2016

When you build the customer profile for your company, you are asked to consider a variety of questions about your ideal customer. Where are they in their replacement cycle, what is the last product they purchased, why are they looking for your product or service, and what is going to be their key pain point which will push them to make a purchase. These are just a few of the detailed questions you are asked to help you build a marketing plan.

Why is it so important to understand the detailed reasons behind customer shopping habits? After all, economics often tends to treat customer shopping behaviors as a given; when customers have money, they will spend it. So why can’t you just wait for them to turn up and spend it with you?

The short version is that there are too many options out in the world for customers to spend their money on. Marketing is about convincing them to spend it with you, specifically, and to do that successfully, you need to know why they’re out there spending money in the first place. For example:

Know which marketing techniques will work

When you understand your customer’s motivation, you have a better idea which marketing techniques will work. If they have never even considered your product, then your marketing will need to focus on explaining to them why this product is great and they need it in their life. You might even need to convince them that their current situation is actually a problem, and not just the way things are.

If your customer is already committed to buying something in your niche, however, your approach will shift. You will be less engaged with convincing them to buy something in this class of product, and instead focus on explaining to them why your product is best.

An example is smartphones. When the iPhone was first released ten years ago, Apple needed to explain to customers why they wanted this hybrid phone/computer in their pocket. Now, with smartphones achieving broad use across the world, companies focus on comparing their quality to their competitors, explaining why their features and specifications are the best available.

Know which features need to be updated most quickly

No product on the market is perfect. Anything you create is likely to need work down the line, whether you are considering natural upgrades as other segments of the market improve, or fixes for bugs that didn’t show up during your initial testing.

As an entrepreneur, you might have one set of priorities of what needs to be fixed when, but your customers will likely have an entirely different set of priorities.  You can influence their requests to some degree by talking about what you are planning to do next, but you also need to listen to your customer’s needs.

For example, when the iPhone 6 was announced, many customers were frustrated by its size. While many other phone companies had been rapidly increasing their screen size into what was called the “phablet” (a portmanteau of phone and tablet) market, iPhone had stayed petite. Within a few months, Apple announced a smaller version of the iPhone 6. It’s unlikely that this was on their immediate list of improvements for the 6 series, but customer demand made it a necessity.

Know which business areas need to be expanded

Much like knowing what portions of your product need to be refined, your customers will let you know what areas of your business need to be revamped or expanded if you listen. Are they struggling to connect to sales teams? Do they wait too long for support requests? Are you losing out on customers because of a poor experience on your website?

Different customer segments have different needs. A highly technical group may be more willing to search your website for the information they need, while a less computer savvy group may need the information right there in front of them. As a business, you may not immediately connect with the segment you anticipated. The goldmine of going viral means that you may reach a much broader group of people than you initially intended, and you need to decide how much you’re going to try to cater too and capture that audience.

As a business, it’s important to know not just why consumers buy in general, but why your customers buy in particular. By understanding their personal, emotional, social, and economic reason for making purchases, you put your business in a better place to adapt to changes and make the necessary steps towards economic and business success.

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