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How Can you Fail When You Have Two Million Potential Customers?

Posted by Marjorie Signer on March 30, 2009

Cincinnati is a great place to live. We have the Cincinnati Art Museum, Union Terminal, a fantastic Natural History Museum, the global headquarters of P&G, Chiquita, Sunny Delight, and dozens of other large employers, beautiful architecture and good schools. But most importantly, the Greater Cincinnati area has more than 2 million people, most of whom are down-to-Earth, hardworking, honest consumers.

Two million people. That’s a lot of buying power and I bet most of them would be thrilled to be able to give their dollars to a company that is based in their community, cares about the same kinds of things they thing are important and is giving back to make Cincinnati an even better place to live, work and play. In fact, I’d venture to say that now, in these difficult financial times, our neighbors are even more interested in finding ways to protect their community with every spend of their dollar.

Smart marketing is even more important today than it was yesterday, precisely because of global economic conditions and the changing mindset of consumers. In times when we’re closely watching the amount of money we spend we start evaluating value and asking ourselves, if I make this purchase, how will it benefit me

Understanding what your prospects value and communicating that doing business with your company satisfies those values is your key to success right now. 

For example, a neighbor has a small grocery store that sells many locally produced, organic foods. His prices are generally higher than the “big box” stores and as his customers started to feel the pinch of the recession, sales started to dip. In more flush economic times, his marketing focused mainly on the health related reasons to buy organic food. But, even when money is tighter, people still have to eat 3 square meals a day and if the choice is between being able to feed your family top-notch organic foods and just being able to feed them, every family is going to try and buy the most nutritious food they can within their budget. A non-organic red pepper is still better than no red peppers at all.    

The changing habits of customers got our grocer thinking and suddenly it dawned on him. Yes, his customers liked being able to buy healthy, organic foods, but now they were thinking more about the affects the economic downturn was going to have on their family and community. Nearly everyone knew someone who had lost their job or had taken a pay-cut and even if it hadn’t happened to them yet, they were still tightening their belt and preparing for the worst.

This realization that his customers buying habits had changed not because of a change in their preferences, but because of the effects they had seen the economy have on people they cared showed him how to reconnect and re-engage his customers. Our grocer changed his marketing to focus on how shopping at his store directly and positively affected the people in the community!

How well do you know your customers? If you can’t describe your customer’s values and help them satisfy what’s important to them, this could indeed be a very tough time for your company. Take this opportunity to really think about your customers and answer the following questions:

  • Have your customers buying habits changed?
  • Have the things your customers talk about changed?
  • How does doing business with your company help your customers feel good about themselves?

Knowing your customer is the Holy Grail of business, but unlike the fountain of youth, you can find the fountain of success.

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