fast resultsOne of the major and easiest mistakes to make when developing a business is to assume that you know who your customers are and what they want because you know your company better than anyone.

It’s this assumption that can lead to massive amounts of misdirected marketing and money simply thrown away. If you have the best marketing strategy in the world but it’s targeted at the wrong people then it’s not going to get you anywhere.

Can your company learn from the Grateful Dead? In Brian Halligan’s book ‘Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead’, he demonstrates that making your consumers a part of your business and therefore define the direction that your company travels in will ultimately make you more successful.

Rather than relying on record sales The Grateful Dead marketed themselves on their live performances and the audience experience:
“Because of that change, there was a cascade of decisions that fell from that. For instance, each concert was completely unique night-after-night, so there was a strong incentive to see them for several nights in a row – this ultimately led to fans following them around the country. In addition, they allowed their fans to make tapes of the concerts and freely spread them to their fans – the more concerts they played, the more tapes there were, the more people were exposed to the music, the more people paid for concert tickets.”

It’s almost like a precursor to the power that social media plays today. Give your customers a voice and they will become a part of your business and you will grow brand loyalty.

So, how can a small business do this?

Firstly: Never assume who your target audience is.
Develop content outposts like blogs and share your ideas/products across a range of media networks, blogs and social networking sites. Review where you seem to be getting the most hits/comments from and establish a way of targeting this demographic of customers.
Search around your product and find people who are talking about related areas.
Talk to your present customers! Find out who they are and exactly why they like your products.
Think of captivating ways to generate this research – giveaways / discounts for data or referring a friend.
And always remember: when they’re not happy… they will tell you about it! Don’t let this be a negative. Complaints are great research tools too. Be prepared to have open conversations over social networks and you will soon grow a very clear consumer base.

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