If you’re constantly monitoring and engaging with the people who buy from you, then kudos. That’s going to let you understand customers even better so you can get them to keep buying. But if those are the only people you’re monitoring, then you’re missing an enormous opportunity to sell more and grow your organization.
Most people aren’t buyers
The number of visitors a company has can be quite different based on what the business is offering, what their price points are, and other factors. But broadly across all retail sectors, only a small number of people (20 percent) are actually buyers. The other 80 percent are “just looking.” They come in and browse, but ultimately leave empty-handed.
A 2018 Global Path to Purchase Survey found that 96 percent of people have left a physical store without making a purchase at least once. The digital arena doesn’t fare much better, with 92 percent of first-time visitors to websites not buying.
These figures mean that, if you’re only capturing insights on people who have spent money with you, you’re ignoring a massive segment of your market. Because you’re not collecting information on everyone and instead have data on a minority, your perception of what customers do, want, or would respond to can be skewed. That can mean thousands or even millions of dollars lost to ineffective marketing, inventory selection, and other elements such as store layout.
You end up saying no to all the profits you could get by converting some of the browsers into buyers.
Gathering information about the non-buyers' experience takes finesse
Getting transactional, quantifiable performance indicators for a retail location, such as foot traffic or how much customers typically spend, is relatively easy, especially with modern technologies. Indicators about the customer experience, such as the goal a person has or how they feel when they come into your store, is trickier. Those indicators can often be quantified, such as with customer satisfaction or net promoter scores, but they typically require deeper feedback and aren’t always simple to summarize.
Adding to the challenge of gathering insights about non-buying visitors is that modern consumers don’t just have one single customer journey. They have micro-journeys, too. For example, if a person visits your website to get an idea of your prices before they come to you, that’s its own micro-journey with a start, middle, and end. So is contacting tech support or talking to a customer representative to get information. Even though you need information from all of these touchpoints for a big-picture understanding of your potential buyers, you have to make that data collection simple and unobtrusive across channels so the people you’re interacting with don’t feel bombarded.
How to collect insights and put them to work
Despite the hurdles outlined above, there’s an opportunity for you to learn and connect what you find out to in-store or online testing. This breaks down into five basic steps:
1. Uncover why customers are visiting. Maybe most of your customers come into your store because they want to physically see how something works. Maybe they aren’t confident that an online transaction is secure enough given the price point of the item they want. Whatever the reason might be, conduct surveys using market research tools to know what is motivating the visit will help you respond quickly.
2. Map the in-store journey. How do people work their way through your space? What do they do and how long do they stay in those spaces?
3. Collect feedback. This can be done digitally, in person, or both using omnichannel survey software. For instance, an attendant can guide people to complete a questionnaire on in-store tablets. But the objective is to gain insight into the visitor’s pain points. Focus on emotion.
4. Create a new micro-journey design. One example here might be a restaurant adding calorie figures or allergy alerts to menu items so people don’t have to ask whether foods meet their needs. Or if you know that visitors typically feel overwhelmed, you can simplify visuals or train employees to greet people with a smile and reassuring language. The new design always addresses pain points you’ve identified through your mapping and feedback.
5. Deploy, measure, and iterate. Put your new design into action and analyze your results. Tweak the design until it works well. Then do a full-scale launch and integrate the design into your standard procedure.
Through this process, you’ll need to watch out for common traps. For instance, if you’re not proactive and have poor communication, then the transition between your project team and the store team might be rocky. Similarly, some businesses make the mistake of trying to get insights and redesign journeys without really laying down a good base camp or foundation first. Be mindful of these pitfalls and capitalize on your strengths. Keep things as simple as you can and remember that every interaction you have with the visitor counts.
With a data-backed strategy, conversions are well within reach
The people who buy from you have incredible value for your business. But they are a minority when you look at the entire number of people who visit your store. Getting insights about the people who don’t buy reveals how to resolve their pain points and convert them into paying customers. If you want to grow your business, then don’t ignore the bulk of individuals right in front of you. Collect their information and redesign their micro-journeys to give them a better experience.
Image Credit: Getty Images
Two years after launching my consulting business, I hit 2X growth and had built multiple high exposure brand partnerships. This was a bittersweet moment for me. Professionally, I had achieved many of the goals I set in motion, both financial and strategic, but it was also to the detriment of my physical, mental, and at times, emotional well-being. Hardly anyone noticed. No one sent flowers. And that's ok.
I get asked a great deal, “Do you find it hard to keep your business going without the support of friends and family?” Not only do I get asked this, but I see this come up in online business communities constantly. My answer is always the same — friends and family don’t pay your bills. Focusing on the lack of support from friends and family is a distraction. Your focus should instead be what your needs are. Often, people who don’t have the same career ambition or background won’t understand. The last thing an entrepreneur wants to hear is “Why don’t you just go find a real job?” or “Is it really worth it?” Let's pretend the conversation is not about business. If I was struggling in my marriage or with my physical health, would you advise me to quit as soon as the going got tough? Likely not. So never ask someone to quit their dreams early on.
Admittedly, within the first six months, I paid close attention to who liked, shared, and sang my praises when I jumped into the more public side of the business. As time went on, my little list of shame grew. Who hasn’t read my book? Who has sat across a table from me and said they didn’t know what I actually did for a living (nor did they follow up and ask). I had to stop. This was wasting mental capacity that would never yield any tangible results for my business and truly that’s what I needed to spend my time worrying about if it was all going to come together. Instead, I put my head down and started strategizing about my brand and experience and where I needed to position myself to turn my ideas and skills into revenue. Again, unless your friends are part of large networks that align with your business or are offering up capital for your business, the likelihood that their support will yield something tangible for your business is slim. Learn where your target audience lives and move towards them.
I started formulating very specific partnerships and collaborations. I poured every ounce of myself into my consulting engagements. From a revenue perspective, my business grew. From a branding perspective, my business grew. But none of my family and friends had any idea what I was doing — and I didn’t care.
There is no one real answer as to why those closest to you may behave in the way that they do. My honest opinion is that being an entrepreneur is like being a part of an ongoing social experiment. In private, you have wonderful cheerleaders who believe in you and will pump you up to keep going. In public, it's different. People are very selective about what they will choose to support and align themselves with. For example, I have shared more pieces of content publicly than I can recall. My professional network has become a stronger force in engagement, which is very important when you are building a brand. And these are mostly people who I have never met or even spoken to. Recently, I shared the news that I had become an official partner with Amazon. Because of Amazon's high viability, I assume, this news was ok to support. Engagement across the board was extremely high, professionally and personally. I've accepted, that’s just the way it goes.
When people say it costs nothing to support your friend or family member in public, understand that to some people they may be looking to protect their image and align with very specific people/content/ideas and you have to respect that. Our careers and image are equally important to all of us, entrepreneur or not.
So, what can you do to get the support you need to grow? Focus on these three areas.
1. Build your reputation
To grow your business, you need a strong reputation. How can you do this? Raise the bar high for your ethics and standards. Treat every client, regardless of size, like they are the most important in your portfolio. This is how you build retention and long-term engagements. Treat your business partners with respect. This means anyone who is a part of keeping your business in operation. If you mistreat a key business partner who then slows down or holds back their services, how will that impact your business and, in turn, your customers? To keep your business cycle moving, you must treat everyone who touches your business with respect and kindness. This is how you build a reputation and get the referrals that lead to sales conversion. Client testimonials carry significant weight over your best friend or mom and dad. Aim for these.
2. Network in like-minded communities, in-person and online
Go where you are understood and where you can have conversations that will add value. Now, I say this with all the respect in the world, but I personally have a hard time getting into the weeds of what I am trying to achieve with individuals who don’t come from a business or technology background. I don’t have time to teach others out of curiosity and who won’t be able to offer me advice that I can put into use. Be intentional with your conversations. When you are looking for business advice, go to the right people to get it. When you are looking for a morale boost, friends and family could definitely help out. Position yourself where you can find answers, get support, connect with the right people and grow.
3. Support and validate yourself
Understand that you are capable of giving yourself the validation and morale boost that you need. A mistake that many of us make is ignoring the small victories in favor of waiting for the big moments and giving setbacks more mental space than they need. Learn the lessons, make the changes and move on.
The path to success is based on many small milestones. Sit back as often as possible and reflect on them. When you do this, you will recognize that you are succeeding and creating your pathway to success, it is the journey, not the final destination that builds us.
At the end of the day, no one knows better than you what it has taken to get where you are. The world's most successful entrepreneurs don’t sit around worrying about why people aren’t patting them on the back. They’re out there working hard and finding motivation in the right places.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
Given the rising public scrutiny around climate, Covid, and socioeconomic justice, companies are becoming increasingly purposeful to address the world's problems.
Looking at the world's top companies, some are innately purposeful while others become more purposeful daily.
This comes as no surprise, given the rising public scrutiny around climate, Covid, and socioeconomic justice. And expectations on business will only increase as crises compound -- and the business world accepts more responsibility for solving the many challenges it largely created.
More purpose noise? No. The urgency the world faces now necessitates a radical reengineering of business purpose -- a universal, collectivized purpose for business and all its stakeholders.
Our collectivized purpose is to collaboratively regenerate the natural and social systems on which all of our futures depend. In short, to Lead With We: The Business Revolution That Will Save Our Future.
That's the title of a new book by Simon Mainwaring, founder and CEO of We First, a strategic consultancy that helps companies become movements by empowering their brands to lead with purpose.
So, gather your business stakeholders and collaboratively define the Lead With We purpose of your company using these three categories of questions, straight from the book:
Lead: Our Company Alone
With: Our Company and Others
We: Our Company and the World
Then, to activate and sustain our purpose, Mainwaring writes that we must continue to:
Lead With We companies like Orbia, Home Depot, and IBM, not to mention countless ingenious startups, are daily discovering effective ways to engage their suppliers, employees, and customers in their unique expression of the collectivized purpose of business. Reinforcing it. Allowing people to constantly co-create it.
When fully realized, writes Mainwaring, "it's a self-efficacious, dynamic feedback loop that constantly delivers a 'return on purpose' for everyone and our future."
Image Credit: Getty Images
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship and it's important to built it between you and your customers.
I've had the privilege of developing many amazing client relationships throughout my career. Often, the success of our business relationships stems from one key thing: trust. It seems like common sense since trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, but I've found that it's one that's often neglected in the business world.
When you're pitching to a client, you're asking them to trust you before you've truly proven to them that you can do what you say you're capable of. This is the reason my company adheres so strictly to monthly dashboards and reporting. We want to show our clients that we're making progress, adhering to the process, and giving them results.
Just as trust is built between companies and marketing agencies, it's also built between you and your customers. Customer loyalty is the key to longevity and is critical to success. If you can't retain customers, you exhaust your resources by always trying to reach new ones. And oftentimes, if it's too complicated to engage with or understand your business or product, these new customers will drop out of the funnel.
Here are a few key ways that you can keep communication simple and build trust with your customers.
Join the team.
It's one thing to approach the table as an expert--it's another thing to position yourself as a teammate. This is done to great effect through active listening and collaboration. No matter your industry, building a partnership with your client deepens your trust in one another and makes them more likely to want to work with you again. For example, the consultant company Success Financial Team does just that. While providing consultation services for other businesses, they aim to approach each project like they're a part of the team and constantly assess the impact of their solutions on their client's business. In theory, this enables them to determine what's working and what isn't so they can pivot as needed. They work this flexible mindset into their strategy and are open about it with their clients so that when pivots are needed, they can speak transparently as dedicated teammates.
Expressing that you are "on their team" in your language and your passion sets the stage for clearer communication and comradery. Plus, setting accurate expectations from the start will help your teammates know that they can trust you.
Make complex topics simple.
They say a true sign of intelligence is being able to explain complex concepts in a simple way. The same applies to running a business. Consider Ceratizit, a technology engineering company specializing in cutting tools and hard material solutions. Ceratizit focused its marketing efforts to keep things as simple as possible since the best way to communicate with their audience is by meeting them at their level--explaining the high-tech concepts in simple terms and only diving into the nuts and bolts if the customer asks them to.
If you're overcomplicating things, you're likely overwhelming your customers. People are too busy these days to try to figure out confusing or complex information when making an important purchasing decision. It's better to dive into the nuts and bolts when a customer is further along in the buying cycle and is ready to see how your application is an ideal fit for their specific needs.
What's most important is that customers find a new solution that helps them be efficient and productive. Take the time to help your customers easily understand your business and what you're offering. This builds relational equity and I've found it pays significant dividends in the long run.
Stay sensitive to your subject matter.
If your company deals with sensitive subject matter, take this into consideration when you're drafting materials for customer outreach and marketing.
One company that I think does an excellent job of cultivating trust through their communication is AEC Alarms, a security system solutions company in Silicon Valley. When you're dealing with something like home security, the way you speak to your clients is essential. AEC Alarms' clients are quite literally trusting them with their home and personal safety--and the company develops all of their marketing materials with this in mind. Instead of turning to fear-mongering tactics, AEC builds trust by helping its clients understand how security systems work and providing them with the information they need to make an informed decision. Customers want to feel empowered to make choices about their safety and security--AEC Alarms understands this and acts as the trustworthy partner to support that empowerment.
When clients trust you, they are more likely to do business with you. It's as simple as that. The best way to cultivate that trust is through your communication. Set accurate expectations, join the team, make the complexities of your business simple and understandable, and make sure you are sensitive and tactful. Communicating in a way that fosters trust leads to greater engagement rates and increased sales--a must for any business looking to compete as we move into 2022.
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