Word game tiles spelling the word 'yes' represent the drive to put customers at the heart of a business
Customer demand for better value had a big impact in 2021 and the drive to become more customer-centric will continue to be important in 2022. 
Putting your customers at the heart of your business will help you to move on from the very real survival issues you have faced during the pandemic. 
You might already have adapted, restructured and started to recover but now is the time to focus on your customers’ needs, meeting their expectations, and understanding their values. In the longer term this will be the foundation you need to build customer loyalty and increased sales and profitability. 

What do your customers value? 

Each customer could value your product or service in a different way, depending on their requirements. Some might simply want the cheapest price, but for many there will be added factors like your brand, product quality and customer service. Many people also want to buy from organisations they feel have similar principles and beliefs. For some it’s important that materials are ethically sourced or that employees are treated well. 

Understanding your audience 

Small business owners are ideally placed to have a detailed understanding of what’s important to their customers. In many cases you will know them personally and, if you ask them, they will probably be very happy to tell you why they chose to buy from you and to suggest any improvements. 
For larger organisations it can be more difficult, requiring carefully structured research that is designed to inform product development, marketing and sales. Often audience segmentation will be needed to understand the differences amongst the wider customer base and, perhaps, those who buy from competitors too. 

Changing preferences 

It’s important to check how your customers’ views might have changed since the pandemic. While increased use of online shopping is a widespread trend, many customers now prefer to buy locally, which could give you an advantage if you are well established in your community. Taking advantage of ecommerce, many manufacturers are also selling directly to their consumers (D2C) which can streamline processes and provide valuable insights into buying behaviour. 

Value vs price 

While shoppers and business to business (B2B) buyers are certainly aware of price, offering discounts might not be the best tactic. Shortages of raw materials and post-pandemic inflation will lead to increased costs so spending decisions will be more carefully considered. Giving your customers a reason to choose you because of the value you add for them will give you a more robust, longer-term strategy. 

Brand loyalty 

During the pandemic many people tried new products and brands for the first time because of shortages or curiosity. To encourage your customers to return and to keep the new ones you have gained, making sure your brand is clear and understood will add to the perception of value you deliver. 
When your branding is seen regularly and consistently you will increase the likelihood that customers will consider you early in their buying journey. While it isn’t the route to overnight success, a study showed that strong brands on average have three times more sales volume than other brands and can charge a premium price. 
Companies are increasingly shifting the balance between lead generation and branding, recognising the impact it can have in the longer term. 

Reaching your audience 

How you communicate about the value you offer your customers is important. You have the choice of many different channels, so choosing the right mix and creative approach isn’t simple. The decision must be based on your customers’ behaviour and needs. Depending on your market sector there might be seasonal differences, opportunities to combine different products into value packages, and to switch channels depending on your offer. Increasingly, taking advantage of the cross-over that can be achieved between digital and traditional channels is proving a popular approach. 

Building trust 

When people trust your brand, they will value it more and it will become their preference. Some channels can strengthen this relationship. Research across 18 countries showed traditional media channels are still the most trusted with around four out of 10 trusting print, out-of-home and cinema, while just one in 10 trust social media. 
Find out how advertising in a trusted local publication like Pulse magazine can help build your brand. Talk to one of our friendly team today. 
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