What Do Small Business Customers Want?

The value of being in sync with the small business customer wants and needs.

 

Small business customers need to be engaged but in a 1989 interview for Inc. Magazine, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them.

By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” Then, almost 10 years later at a World Wide Developers Conference he said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology–not the other way around.”

Jobs moved Apple from a company focused on speed to market to one that used customer intuition to build momentum and growth.

No one can deny that he built a brand that customers are passionate about, –no make that obsessive– about it. He did this by knowing in an ever more complicated world of technology, customers desired simplicity overall. Apple grew revenue from $4.1 billion in 1988 to more than $100 billion by 2007. Today is a top three global brand.

In creating relevant brand communications, the Apple example is one of many that illustrate the power of knowing your customer very well.

I wrote about the importance of listening to your customers and employees. I also wrote about how small businesses respond to customers and employees or to take action. In this article, we’ll consider integrated communications and ongoing evaluation to keep your strategy well understood by your clients and flexible.

Transformation Can Equal Confusion

Many companies lately have suffered from a lack of transparency. You have only to check the business blogs to see the latest news about brands undergoing transformation and the confusion their customers experience.

  • Who is JC Penney today? Is it for a young hip generation or a loyal following of older adults?
  • Who is Gap? Do they understand how their clients feel about their jeans and t-shirts?
  • What about American Airlines? In the midst of bankruptcy challenges do their employees feel betrayed and unheard and are their customer services suffering?
  • And even Apple itself recently stumbled and apologized over the omission of Google Maps in the new iPhone.

Next- Small business customer and flexibility in the face of competition

 

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About the author

Andrea Cotter

Andrea Cotter, President and Founder, ACotter Global Brands. Andrea coaches executives and teams helping them to put in place strategies and communications that will take them to the next level.  She is also an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Communication at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. 
During a 30-year career at IBM Corporation, Andrea Cotter held many integrated marketing and communications roles for various IBM products and services and executive roles as Global Director of Linux and of Healthcare and Life Science Marketing.  At UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA, Andrea was SVP of Communications, responsible for enterprise-wide brand marketing, advertising, clinical marketing and public relations.   Most recently Andrea served as temporary President of a brand consultancy in New York, New York.