#11 Customer Needs – Unveil Your Customer’s Checklist
November 26, 2020
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Achieving excellence in digital marketing strategy is a process of continuous improvement. Even for the best of us, there is always a gap between our knowledge and the most current state of the art in the field. In Mind the Gap, we cover the latest developments in digital marketing. Squeeze this weekly podcast into your schedule to keep up with great new ideas and Mind The Gap.

In this week’s episode, we are going to talk about understanding your customers’ needs. When you understand what your potential customers want and why they want it, you can use that information to show them how your product can benefit them. If you dig down to discover or guess at their deepest motivations, you can create a profound understanding and speak to your customers in a way that proves you can really provide them with the things that are most important to them. 

A Deep Understanding of Customer Needs Is Crucial for Success

If you are producing an entirely unique product or service with no competition, that probably won’t last long. Most products and services have a lot of competition. Your potential customers may have a lot of easily accessible alternatives to choose from. So it is not enough to simply solve their problem and meet their immediate and obvious need. You can’t just check one box. For example: yes, this is a comfortable winter boot. You need to make a good guess at all your customer needs in their full complexity and meet as many of them as possible. By pursuing this goal throughout your marketing and sales process, you can offer your customer a better experience, increasing sales and building brand loyalty. Let’s take a closer look and see how you can build a customer needs checklist. 


What Are Customer Needs?

Some customer needs are very obvious. If you are selling a winter boot, your customer has a simple physical need to keep their feet warm and avoid slipping on ice. If your product is a map of tourist attractions, you can think of your customer as a tourist who has a need to navigate. You might also think of your customer as an advertiser who needs to attract customers to their business and show them how to get there. Other customer needs may be more subtle. Your ideal winter boot customer might be a person who has a psychological need to feel like part of a group that they express and seek to fulfill with their clothing choices.


Customer Needs Can Be Physical or Psychological Social and Emotional Needs

Physical needs are often the most obvious. Many products serve a physical need, like our example of winter boots. The most basic physical needs are obvious – they should be warm and have good traction for walking on slippery surfaces. Don’t stop at the obvious ones. Try to think of any needs your customer might have that could be criteria for choosing what to buy. Perhaps they want lightweight boots, or boots that are flexible and shock-absorbing. On the other hand, some customers might need stiff boots.

Psychological needs are more subtle. Does your boot customer want to feel safe? Or is it more important for them to feel adventurous? Do they have a social need to conform with styles that project a mainstream image? Or perhaps they are an outsider sort of personality, who nevertheless puts a high value on making a social statement and wants people to know they are a rebel. 


Examples Of Customer Needs

Some needs are pretty universal. You might not want to emphasize these needs, since they are rather generic, but you should consider trying to make sure you meet them. For instance, everyone wants a product that offers a good ratio of quality to value. Some customers may be more value oriented and others may be more focused on quality. Ask yourself: are your customers more interested in price or quality or a balance of the two?

Customer needs can apply to their experience with the product, but we can also consider needs that occur in the customer journey prior to purchase. Common customer journey needs include clear information about the product and an easy purchasing experience that seems dependable and safe. The customer journey continues after purchase. We can consider feeling supported when calling to ask questions about a product or coordinate repairs as a customer needs. For some products, for instance, technically complex software, emphasizing quality of support can be centrally important. 

Underlying the more obvious needs we can think of deeper psychological needs. For instance, a customer seeking efficiency may be trying to avoid anxiety that arises for them when things are disorderly. If a person who has a psychological need to be perceived as successful, you can help meet this need by selling them products that project an air of luxury and sophistication. 


Create A Customer Needs Checklist

Now that you have an idea what you are looking for, it’s time to put it all together and create a hypothetical checklist for your typical customer including their basic and more subtle physical needs along with the social, emotional, and psychological needs that they might be seeking to meet. This checklist can help everyone in your company adjust their efforts to deliver a more perfect fit for your customers. Sales, marketing, product development and customer service can all benefit from the insight a customer needs checklist provides.

Begin by letting your team know who the customer is with any demographic and psychographic information you have to provide context. Include  a hypothesis about their budget for a purchase. Establish their main motivation for buying. What is the primary need they are trying to address? Then include any other more subtle qualifying physical needs. Finally proceed to list possible emotional, social, and psychological needs. When you really break down what motivates your customers like this, you provide a powerful tool for everyone in your company that they can use to truly delight your customers. 


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We hope you find this insight on digital marketing excellence useful. This knowledge can improve your results, but you have to put it into action. So find a way to apply it and test it. Take a baseline measurement and compare your new improved outcome. Join the Viral Octopus collective and share and discuss your results with others who are striving for excellence. And come back and join us next week for more powerful new marketing tips and tricks. Don’t get left behind: Mind The Gap.