Developing a Customer Strategy

In a nutshell, customer strategy is focused on obtaining, serving and retaining specific customer segments. Developing a customer strategy involves selecting a target market, creating products and services that match your target customers, and delivering an exceptional customer experience. Developing a robust customer strategy for each of the target groups your company serves can give you an advantage over competitors in the marketplace.

Define Your Target Markets

Market segmentation is the process of defining distinct customer groups based on specific characteristics, such as psychology, demographics, education and geographic location. Customer strategies must revolve around a specific market segment, and defining your target segment is the first step in building a solid strategy. Savvy entrepreneurs build their entire businesses around a select target market, deferring all company and product decisions until a target segment is defined and fully understood.

Determine Your Customers' Needs

Determine exactly what unmet needs your target customer group currently has — what it is willing to pay for that no one else is offering them. Identify gaps in the market or industries that overlook the profit potential of your target market. Once you have a general idea of the types of products and services you wish to create for your target market, spend time researching the customers' needs to create a distinctive angle or competitive edge for your brand.

Understand Your Customers

Get to know what makes your target customer group tick, and, more important, what makes it buy. Analyze your target customers' psychographic characteristics to identify buying habits and their underlying motivations for making purchases. Get to know their shopping and customer-service preferences. For example, determine whether they prefer to shop online or in small boutiques.

Develop Strategies

Use this gathered information to guide your product and marketing decisions. Design your products and services based on the feedback you gained during in-person interviews, and update your offerings regularly to adjust for changes in your target customers' needs. All decisions, from advertising strategies to pricing strategies to environmental initiatives, must be in line with the identity and preferences of your target customers to achieve maximum impact.

Solicit Feedback

Make customers an integral part of strategy development. Test new ideas in small market areas with high concentrations of your target market. Establish a social media presence to connect with your customers and receive daily feedback. Maintain a presence at events frequented by your target customers to gain more face time and perform research on a more personal level.