If you are in business, you have customers. Even if you work for a large organization and you don’t deal directly with external customers, there are people within the company that are your clients. How are you identifying what they need?

Who are your customers?

This depends on what you’re selling. If you are a family lawyer, then your customers will be mothers and fathers, grandparents and siblings. If you are a real estate lawyer, your clients could be anyone purchasing or selling property or homes in the area you service. If you are a freelance writer, your customers can be large or small corporations in the industry or location you have targeted.

If I asked you to describe your ideal customer in 2 or 3 sentences, how specific could you be? Stop reading right now and write down as detailed a description as possible.

Where are your customers?

The answer isn’t ‘everywhere’. If you’ve been able to describe your customer with great clarity and detail, then you will have narrowed down the places where they likely hang out. Online they may be using certain social media. If they are stay-at-home moms, for instance, they may be on Facebook or Instagram sharing pics and stories or asking questions and offering advice. If they are university graduates, they may be using LinkedIn to source job prospects or research desirable companies. Offline you may have connected with them at a trade show or networking event. Obviously, you should be where they are.

What are your customer’s challenges?

If you know who they are and you’ve been hanging out where they do, chances are pretty good that you’ve chatted with your customers. Everyone likes to share their story, and most want to unload if something didn’t go right. Just about everyone will ask for help or advice or recommendations at some point.

Another option would be to ask them what irks them. Know your audience before you ask because most folks are savvy to marketers and would see that question as an invitation to fill out a survey that ends up sticking them into a funnel. These are people and should be treated as more than prospects. Be the one to field those questions and provide an answer of value.

Here’s the twist. Don’t ask for or expect anything in return.

I know what you’re thinking: Wha….? If I want them to be a customer, and that means they are willing to pay for what I provide, then why am I giving stuff away for free?

I’m not suggesting you give away the farm. All I’m saying is that sometimes you need to prove that you have a clue before people will trust you. Would you automatically supersize if you didn’t already like the original? Probably not. You’d want a taste of what you’d be getting in a small manageable form that helps you to decide and be certain that what you’re getting is what you truly want.

So when you sit down to ask yourself ‘what is my customer’s biggest challenge’ think about the small and meaningful ways that you can help them before jumping in. Don’t make it about you.

Have you been thinking about improving your marketing efforts? If you’d like a hand with that, grab this ‘Marketing Communications Checklist’ to help you focus and make real progress for your small business.