Identifying the Issue

So you have a business but are wondering where the customers are? Perhaps you used to have a large client base but now you only have a few that regularly shop. The first part in solving any issue is to first recognize that there is one. In this particular case, the issue is you don’t have enough people frequenting your business. But wait a second, is it really that simple?

On the surface it may look easy. No customers equals no business. However, to really identify what the issue is, one must look at the underlying cause. This begins the process of breaking down every aspect of your business. Starting from the basics, look at how your business is structured, look at the product or service offerings, look at every little detail. Start by making a list and view everything from an internal point of view. Does anything stand out to you?

If you have discovered something, great! Write those items down on a piece of paper to come back to, you have completed one step in this process. The next step is to look at everything you just viewed from your employee’s perspective. This may involve talking to them, or having a third party talk to them. Your employees are a valuable source of information and should be considered heavily as you begin this process. Again, if anything stands out to you, be sure to write it down, though in a separate category or subheading or however you’re organizing your notes.

Next look at everything again from the perspective of your existing customers. How do they view your products? How do they view your business? Ask them for feedback and have them be brutally honest. Maybe it will take a giveaway or a freebie or something to intice them to respond, but let me asure you that it is worth having the feedback. Once again, make sure you jot down anything that stands out but make sure to keep these notes separate.

Last, look at your business from a prospective customer’s point of view. These are the people that aren’t current customers but ones that you would like to have. This is how your business looks to the outside. Again, look at your products, look at your storefront, your employees, look at every aspect and see if you can find anything that stands out. This last step will take you the longest to complete. I know that sounds odd as they don’t have a full insight into everything but this is where you will reveal the effect your marketing efforts has. Be sure to write down those issues too.

Have your list? Great! See any patterns? Start with those as those are the easiest to fix. Everything else will require some work. I can’t say what it will take because every analysis will be different depending on the business, the customer base, the location, and so on. What I can say is that each remaining issue is most notably something that your customer base is seeing and is either driving them away or keeping them from entering in the first place. These are the true issues that are impacting your business and this is where a great marketing plan will come in handy.

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