Every one of your clients has different needs, goals and desires. There’s no sense in giving the same advice you would a baker, to a plumber. You need to become your clients’ industry expert. And you can do that in just 5 steps.
1. Know your clients’ audience
Who are your clients trying to sell to? Ask for as much of the nitty-gritty as you can. Then, d user personas for your client’s ideal customers, including demographics, psychographics, geographics and behaviouristic factors.
Customer experience should be at the forefront of every decision a business makes. So use your personas as reference points when you meet with your client and use them as a basis to build strategies around. It’s a great way to look at problems and pain points that your clients’ businesses are serving.
2. Get to know their competitors
Learning about your clients’ competition can give you an edge on what advice to provide your client with. Where is your client stronger? And where are they lacking, in comparison? Get a list of competitors from your client, and do some digging yourself.
To really utilise competitor research, make sure you do the following:
- Identify successful strategies and derive your own version
- Highlight the competition’s weak points to successfully position as a better alternative
- Stay up to date with the latest macro trends to plan an effective long-term business strategy
- Determine common pain points of the customers and prospects
- Help better define your target markets and opportunities for growth
3. Stay on top of the news
Being abreast of industry changes, good and bad, gives you a great lead-in to valuable conversations with your client.
Will Brexit affect their business? If so, tweak their forecast to see what changes it may cause and model scenarios to see what they can do to make the most of the situation. Will their suppliers start charging more? Will the economy dip because of the uncertainty? Forecasting can’t fix this, but it can give you and your client the chance to safeguard against the worst case scenario.
Most national news sites will have sections dedicated to specific industries. Check out a range of sites and newspapers to get a wider view of what’s going on – not everyone’s as impartial as they’d like us to believe they are!
4. Utilise market research
Depending on how much time and resource you have to dedicate to your research time, you can tackle this section from a number of angles. Step one, though is to ask the expert right in front of you. Quiz your client on their business – they know exactly what’s happening on the ground. Following this…
- Market reports – These are usually easy enough to find online. It’s worth seeing if your client is up to date on these as they may have them to hand for you. However, just because they have them, doesn’t mean they’re putting them to their best use.
- Use your clients’ research – This doesn’t only give you a grip on the market and any specific niches your client may have but, it can also present you with some reasoning behind the origin of their company and the way their company runs.
- Do it yourself – This is best practice when learning about an industry. However, it can be a waste of time to cover the same information that your client has already covered in their own research, so this should be your final step.
Your best option? All of the above.
5. Don’t let it gain dust
This task isn’t a one-time thing. Industries shift and change every day and so keep your ear to the ground. Some will change more regularly than others but never ignore a slow-burner. Checking industry news, for example, can be five minutes every day. Whereas customer profiles and business processes can be as little as once or twice a year.
And keep the knowledge close at hand. It’ll come in handy any time you’re doing any work concerning your client and should help shape your strategy going forward.