Brand Strategy

My 6 Tips for Understanding Your Customer

Here are six ways you can get in the minds of your customers to understand how your brand is understood by the people that matter most.
Take a moment and think back to your last positive experience with a brand. Not just any experience, but one that was so great it made you stop and leave a review.

Whether it was the brand’s product or customer service or on-site experience or in-store experience — how you felt in that moment (intentionally or not) now informs how you perceive the brand.

The only thing more valuable than offering your customers a positive experience like that is getting in their heads and knowing what it was that made it so great. Because how your customers perceive your brand has a profound impact on how your business operates as a whole.

Our customers should be the purpose of what we do. And purposeful brands should engage and offer their customers what they’re looking for.

But can you actually understand your brand from your consumer’s perspective? Well, I’m here to tell you, you can!

With a little research, analysis and elbow grease (lol), you can effectively understand your consumers and from there optimize your brand experience so it is tailored to them.

Here are six ways you can get in the minds of your customers to understand how your brand is understood by the people that matter most.

6 Effective Ways to Understand Your Brand From Your Customer’s Perspective

Step 1. Research Your Target Audience

I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again how important it is to know your target audience. But in order to really know how your audience perceives your brand, you need to dig deep. Really deep.

I’m not just talking about knowing their age, demographic and location. No — there’s so much more you can learn about your target audience to help you serve them better.

Here’s a few ideas of unique attributes you can learn about your target audience:

  • How they found your brand
  • How they prefer to engage with your brand
  • Their hobbies/interests
  • Their education level
  • Their income
  • The primary device they use to get their news and information

Then, put your findings into action by applying what you know about your audience to your marketing strategy. You can answer their questions on your website, use language in your blog posts that resonate with their persona and even improve the UX (user experience) on the platforms where they engage with your brand the most.

Once you know more about the people you’ve built your brand for, you can easily communicate with your audience in ways that feel authentic. Purposeful brands connect with their consumers.

Step 2. Interview Your Dream Customers

I know, I know…an in-person interview with a potential dream customer sounds terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be. And if you instead focus on how valuable surveys are, it makes the idea a lot easier to come to terms with.

Interviewing your consumers is helpful for these three reasons:

  1. They can offer you instant insight into who they are and why they like your products/services.
  2. They can provide insight into new revenue opportunities you may not have considered before.
  3. Alternatively, they can show you any red flags or issues with your brand you may have missed.

Now, if the thought of an in-person interview really freaks you out (I get it!), you can always conduct “interviews” using one of these methods;

Online Consumer Surveys — there’s a range of great tools available to make this really easy to do, like Google Marketing Platform.

Telephone Surveys — though more time consuming, calling consumers to gather feedback offers similar results to in-person surveys.

Written Surveys — a great option if your brand has a brick and mortar location. You can leave surveys within your store and ask customers to complete them.

Focus Groups — not necessarily your conventional survey, but nonetheless extremely valuable, and it allows you to gather insight on your brand from a larger group of consumers at once.

Step 3. Take a Walk in Their Shoes

Okay, okay… it sounds like a cheesy love song, but you can definitely take a walk in your customers’ shoes figuratively. Let me explain.

Start by creating a customer journey map, if you don’t already have one. This is a visual representation of the process your customer goes through to achieve a goal with your company, which is usually making a purchase.

There’s five phases of the customer journey:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision
  4. Purchase
  5. Loyalty

A customer journey map can be valuable in several ways, like helping you develop content for each stage of the journey and/or understanding where your consumers might be getting “stuck” in their journey to make a purchase.

Here’s a few ideas of how you can use the customer journey map to take a walk in your customers shoes at each stage.

Phase 1: Awareness

Start here by searching for your brand across search engines (be sure to delete your browsing history first). See where you rank in search results and what pages of your website rank highest . Also look at what competitors rank higher or similarly to your brand. You can experiment using different keywords to search for your brand. This can provide a lot of insight into what exactly your consumer is searching for when looking for your brand.

Phase 2: Consideration

Next, do a quick competitor analysis so you have a better understanding of which competitors appear alongside your brand. Use this information to better understand your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, adjust your strategy based on where there’s room for improvement.

Phase 3: Decision

Now, take a look at your customers' reviews. This is where many consumers go when deciding to make a purchase. What do your reviews say about your products and services? Are there any negative reviews? Another technique for the decision phase is to go through the exact steps your customer would take when making the decision to buy. Is information easy to access? Do you have an FAQ page to answer questions?

Phase 4: Purchase

Walk in your customers’ shoes at this stage by going through the process of actually purchasing a product/service from your brand. How is the user experience? If you have an ecommerce platform, dig even deeper by understanding your consumer’s behaviors on your site, using tools like heat maps to see where they’re clicking.

Phase 5: Loyalty

Finally, see what your customers are saying about your brand on social. Look at comments, tags and hashtags. Is the conversation positive? Also take a look at your content, including blog posts and emails. Are you still offering your customer value after they’ve made a purchase? Maybe you want to consider offering a loyalty rewards program or a refer-a-friend promo.

4. Solve Their Pain Points

Pain points are consistent problems that inconvenience your customer that they want a solution for. Ideally, your product or service should solve that pain point!

Pain points can be anything from a product a consumer needs that is too expensive, to a service that is too complicated to easily obtain.

Every consumer has pain points, but what’s important to remember is that your brand should be trying to solve your consumer’s specific pain point.

Once you can identify your customer’s pain point you’ll have major leverage and can position your brand as a solution rather than a product/service.

Here’s a few tips to help position your brand to solve your customer’s pain points:

Use problem-solving language in your content. From your website, socials and emails — solve your consumers problem through communication. For example, if accessibility is their pain point, highlight free shipping or delivery.

Empathize with them. Show your consumers you care. Let them know you understand the issue and are here to solve it. This is also a great technique to humanize your brand.

Build trust. Rather than telling your consumers how you can solve their pain points, show them. Take action. Actually solve the issue and then show how you’ve done so.

5. Help Them Achieve Their Dreams

You can’t help your customer win the lottery (duh), but you can align your business goals with theirs.

Every time a customer engages with your brand, you have the opportunity to provide them value, getting them one step closer to their goals. Whether their goal is to save time or money, learn a new skill or improve an aspect of their life — you should always have your customers best interest at heart.

Purpose is everything, and purpose-driven brands that lead with authenticity have the ability to win higher market shares and grow faster than their competitors. Furthermore, leading with purpose will result in higher customer satisfaction. A win-win!

So, what does helping your customers achieve their dreams have to do with understanding your business from their perspective? A lot actually. Because no matter how strong your brand identity is, you can’t persuade your customers to make a purchase if you don’t know how to achieve their dreams.

Here’s four simple steps to meet your customers dreams:

Identify — Use the research you’ve gathered about your customers to identify what exactly their dreams, goals and aspirations are.

Distribute — With that information, distribute it to the right areas of your business, say your content team or designers.

Create — Adjust your product offerings, promotions and even creative to reflect your consumer’s dreams.

Collect — Once you’ve done so, collect feedback and data from your consumer to learn whether you’ve met their expectations.

6. Speak Their Language

Last but certainly not least, to understand your business from your customer’s point of view you need to speak their language.

If you’ve jotted down some notes from the last five tips, then you definitely will have enough research to understand how your customers communicate and express themselves. Now apply that to various aspects of your brand!

For example, if you’ve learned your consumers generally have a high school education, simplify the language across your brand assets to be bite sized and easy-to-digest.

On the other hand, if your consumers biggest pain point is needing more time, adjust your promotions to offer same day delivery.

According to business and marketing analyst, Deloitte Insights — most consumers today make purchasing decisions based on how a brand;

  • Treats their customers
  • Treats their employees
  • Treats the environment
  • Treats the communities they operate in

Learn what is most important to your consumer and then infuse that language across your brand touchpoints. If green living is a key interest of your target audience, be sure to clearly communicate what exactly your brand does to be environmentally friendly.

Speak your consumers’ language in all senses. It will differentiate your brand from your competitors while also communicating your unique brand story.

"Make the customer the hero of your story.”

– Ann Handley

In a world with overflowing options, positioning your brand to serve your customers will set your business apart. No doubt about it.

There’s dozens of opportunities to deliver value to your consumers. And now that you know how exactly you can understand your business from your consumer’s point of view, you know what needs to be done to better serve them.

I believe when we come together with a common goal, we can create a brand that makes a difference in people’s lives while preserving the environment.

Meet some of the clients and see the good branding that in turn is doing good in their communities.