Did you know that what you L-O-V-E isn’t necessarily what your customers want?
As a business owner, you have to make thousands of decisions every day about the running of your business. What products to sell, what hours to keep, whether or not to have staff… really, the decisions are endless.
If you are a solopreneur, you don’t have anyone to share those decisions with. Every one of them falls to you. Often, without other input, we choose the option that WE like best. I see this often in web design, but it in affect other areas of your business as well.
The trouble with this approach is that we are not our customers. Sure, you might be a member of your target market, but that doesn’t actually mean that you know what will appeal to your customer. Only your customers can actually answer that question.
When you are faced with making a decision for your business, use this checklist to ensure that your final decision is right for you and your customer:
Take a look at what others in your industry are doing.
There’s a reason that Internet Marketing sites are mostly black and white or that all book sellers online look like Amazon…. and while you don’t have access to the extensive, and often expensive, research that lies behind these trends, you can benefit from other companies’ investments by noting what works for them. Companies change what doesn’t work, so if something is a particularly way, there is likely a very good reason.
Poll your customers.
Regardless of what you do, your business is in the business of serving your customers. You can never go wrong by asking them what they like or what they want to see from your business. One thing to keep in mind here – compile opinions from many customers before making a decision. Relying on a single opinion from anyone – yourself or your customers – may steer you in the wrong direction. Groups of people give you a better idea of the trends behind likes and dislikes more than any single opinion ever could.
Ask for feedback from your mastermind or trusted adviser.
Every business person should have someone on their team who will give them honest, critical feedback. It might be fun to surround yourself with “yes-men” (or women) but with your business success on the line, you have to let go of your ego and be open to hearing someone tell you your idea sucks. The dialog that follows may open up even more exciting possibilities for you and your business.
What if you want to do something that no one else is doing and everyone thinks you are crazy? Should you do it or not?
Well, that depends. Your idea might be the next Facebook or Twitter. Or, it might bankrupt you or your business. Sometimes you do have to take a risk and just go for it. What makes the difference between doing what you want simply because you want to and moving forward after doing your research is that if you are breaking rules, you know what rules you are breaking and, more importantly, why.
There’s a pizza place in my neighborhood. It’s part of a small chain of restaurants in the Seattle area. Their website breaks all of the rules when it comes to design – small white lettering on a black background, background music that you can’t turn off – but as much as it breaks the rules, it fits their brand. The website gives you a real feel for what its like to visit their restaurants. And if you don’t like the site, you aren’t likely to enjoy their pizza either.
Don’t be afraid to personalize your company, or your website, or your brand. Just make sure you do it very consciously and in a way that engages your audience, rather than repels it.