What should you and Richard Branson have in common?

Updated on 5 January 2017

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Well, you’re probably thinking it’s that billionaire pound status (and wouldn’t we all like that!).  But I’m referring to Richard Branson’s constant quest to keep close to his customers and understand them.

This is critical to any entrepreneur’s success and probably one of the key contributors to Sir Richard acquiring a business empire with over 400 companies.

Even though he’s apparently quite an introvert, whenever he flies on his airline, Virgin, Richard Branson, makes a point of always leaving his seat and walking down the aisle to introduce himself and chat to his passengers.  This is one of the ways in which he stays in touch with customer perceptions and gets invaluable feedback about their needs.

We should be following his lead and doing the same.

Research Your Customer
When you’re in business it’s so easy to continually look at the world through your own eyes and from your own perspective.  Sometimes we can be inclined to forget about what our clients want.

Jay Abraham, a leading American Marketing Consultant, says, “Most entrepreneurs fall in love with the wrong thing.  They fall in love with their products and their business, when they should be falling in love with their clients and customers.”

Understanding our ideal prospects is at the heart of Marketing – it’s how we create compelling and irresistible offers.  The only way to do this is to ensure we stay close to our customers and prospects.  So how do we do this?

Quarterly Check-in
Meet with each of your customers once a quarter, even for a quick coffee break.  If you have too many customers, prioritise a list of the key ones and meet with them.  Make contact with your remaining customers via a quarterly telephone call.

During your meeting or call, ask questions about their business and any challenges they are experiencing. Then let them do the talking and listen.

You’ll pick up valuable information about their needs which you can use to improve your service to them and possibly for new product development.  You’ll also get an insight into “the language” your audience is speaking and can incorporate this in your Marketing to develop deep relationships.

Further, checking-in with your customer gives you an opportunity to ensure that they are happy with your service and to iron out any issues.

Talk to Prospects
If you have a business social media page, engage with your followers and carefully monitor their feedback.  You can ask a couple of questions on your page, using a tool like Survey Monkey.

Whenever you attend a networking event or even at a dinner party, keep your research hat on by asking questions related to your industry and noting the response.

An On-going Process
Keeping abreast with the needs of your clients and prospects is a never ending process, as client needs change.  Never stop talking to them.

I know a successful businessman who has set the timer on his cell phone, so that every day he dedicates 10 minutes to think about the needs of his ideal prospects. Could this same approach work for you?

Make 2017 the year when you really observe what your clients and prospects do and say, reaping the business benefits from the exercise!

About the author: Shirley Anthony is an author, speaker and owner of Marketing Breakthroughs, a marketing consultancy operating for over twenty years. Having initially gained corporate experience in fast-moving consumer-goods branding, she has consulted in over twenty-five industries, including cellular, information technology, travel, engineering, food, cosmetics, architecture and banking.

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