Understanding Customers is Key to Building an Effective Website
Posted by Adam Hayes
"Who are your customers?" Most businesses make the mistake of being too broad with their definition of their customer. For example, "My customers are all people that need a website." This is too broad and is NOT an accurate definition of their customers. For example, my sister needs a website but has no money. Would she be one of their customers by their definition? Maybe my sister needs a website but needs it built in JSP. If your business doesn't program in JSP then she shouldn't be your customer either.
I like to use this analogy. You are out hunting deer. You come into a large clearing and see a large herd of deer. Do you just pull out your gun and shoot in the general direction of the deer and hope you hit one, or do you look for the one you want that is within range, and aim at that one? Which approach is more likely to result in bagging a deer? People are no different. You need to focus your efforts or you will spend your whole time chasing and never catching.
A good example of a definition might be "My customers are small to mid-size businesses located in the United States that are interested in a media rich Flash website that requires database connectivity." You can further examine who your customers are by breaking down characteristics of this group that you would like to have as customers. I use 4 main characteristics when examining customers:
- Demographic: These include things such as age, gender, education, occupation, income. Physical characteristics of my customers.
- Geographic: These include things such as region, city size, urban, suburban. Location related characteristics of my customers.
- Psychographic: These include things such as motives, lifestyles, personality. Mental characteristics of my customers.
- Behavioristic: These include things such as product benefit expectations, price sensitivity, and volume usage. Action related characteristics of my customers.
Now that you know who your customers are, you need to determine what you customers need.
- What information are my customers seeking?
- What main products/services do my customers need?
- Which of these needs can my company effectively provide.
These 5-9 items should be the main focus of your web site. That is your niche. One neat thing about focusing on one area is that you become the expert in that area. Whenever a customer has the need that you can solve, they will go to the expert, you.
As you focus on your customer's needs, the requirements of your site will be quickly identified. Look at your current web site. Place yourself in your customer's shoes and ask "Why am I here at this web site" and "How quickly can I find what I need on this site."
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