In the eighth instalment of our ‘Growing Your Gardening Business’ series, we’re focusing on the importance of getting to know your customer base and how to research who your customers are.
As the owner of Jackson Garden Services, a Plymouth-based gardening and landscaping company, I have successfully grown my gardening business and gained a strong client base in the process using a combination of direct and indirect marketing (both online and offline). Since I started the company in 2018, we’ve gone from being a small, fledgeling business to a successful and popular company with a small team and strong client base, due to a combined approach of working hard, being great at what we do and having a successful and useful approach to marketing the business.
Understanding your customer is a crucial aspect of growing your business. Identifying factors about your demographics such as age, location, gender, interests (in your product and services or wider interests) and spending habits, as well as knowledge of how they prefer to engage with your business can be the key to establishing what marketing methods to use and who to ‘target’, as well as providing a valuable insight into the kinds of services you could begin to offer.
Getting to Know Your Customers
When thinking about who your customers are, you might think “Everyone is my customer!”. Whilst that’s a nice idea in theory, it’s remiss to assume that everyone is a potential customer. This is why it’s so crucial to define who your audience is. This means you can make sure that you’re investing your efforts in appealing to the people who are most likely to have the means and motivation to procure your services. The thought of researching and getting to know your audience can feel overwhelming and a bit intimidating, but it’s much easier than it seems at first look! You can glean a lot of essential and valuable information about your audience simply by asking a series of simple questions.
Typical audience research questions include:
- Who are my customers?
- What services and products do they want?
- What would they pay for my services and products?
- How would they contact me and how would I contact them?
- Who are the competitors they may choose?
- What additional services would they be interested in?
The chances are that you could probably answer a few of these questions right off the bat and you probably could hazard a good guess at the rest. However, its important to take the time to really understand your audience and gather data so that you eliminate the guesswork and are working with factual information. The following three steps can help you to learn what you need to know:
- Assess and survey your current customers to gain a clear idea of who your audience is now. You can also use this information to establish who your audience isn’t and who you don’t want your audience to be. You can gather this information in a number of ways, such as short surveys on your website or social media, sending surveys to your mailing list, analysing how your customers use and navigate your website using a tool like Hotjar or simply asking a few questions when you’re speaking to prospective customers.
- Engage with them on social media, by responding to their comments and answering their questions. This can be extended into reviews, so make sure you reply to all reviews you receive online. It can be tempting to only reply to positive reviews but where negative reviews are concerned, your response is the key to turning around opinion.
- Learn who your competition really is. As small business owners, we all have a list of the companies we consider to be competitors, but do our audiences really share those sentiments? Check out the companies that your customers are also considering, to keep tabs on what they’re offering. This will help you to identify what they’re not doing so that you can provide that service (i.e. online appointments, live chat, before/after gallery, weekend appointments etc) and meet market demand.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you may find that you have a few distinct customer ‘profiles’ which isn’t unusual. However, it’s really crucial to establish which services appeal to these ‘profiles’, so that you have a good idea of the kinds of new services they may be receptive to and to learn who to promote specific services and offers to. For example, a service like monthly scheduled garden maintenance appeals to busy professionals, homeowners with gardens that are too large for them to manage and elderly people. If you establish that the majority of your customers for this particular service type are elderly people, it’s logical to appeal to this demographic to gain additional clients or run a specific discount code or promotion to this audience.
When it comes to learning more about your business-to-business audience (or even establishing who you want your B2B audience to be), you should consider factors such as the size of the company, their revenue, their location and the sector they operate in. If you aren’t currently providing B2B services or you want to begin to target a new audience, then assessing the kinds of businesses you’d like to work with is essential.
In conclusion, customer research is an invaluable way to learn how to better serve your customers. The more data you can collect on your audience, the greater your opportunities.
Make sure to come back next month for our ninth instalment, focusing on how to use Facebook to the fullest. In the meantime, you can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linked In; I’m always happy to chat!