I don’t change my own oil. Oil changes are so low cost that I don’t feel that its worth my time to do my self. Also I don’t feel like having to dispose of the old oil. Most of the time I simply go to Wal-Mart for an oil change and grab some groceries while I’m there and each time the mechanic asks me if I want my wiper blades changed and my air filter changed as well. He asks me this without even looking at the car. I have to wonder how many people agree to this addon service every time when they probably only need it once a year. Both of these items are generally very easy to check and change yourself for less money anyway.
The point of this little story is that when you are starting your own business you have a choice of how you want to approach your customer. You can either try to learn as much about their needs as possible and make recommendations built on that knowledge and trust or you can simply dump as many goods and services on them as possible, relying on customer ignorance to drive your sales for you. I personally don’t have much respect for the latter method, and it’s one that Wal-Mart uses a lot (i.e. larger grocery packages are often the worse buy at Wal-Mart ). Being the largest retailer in the world though they must be doing something right and it wouldn’t hurt to pay attention to their methods at least to some degree.
So how can you know your customer? Well if you are running an online business there are a few tools available to you. One is Google Analytics which has great tracking and reporting options that can show you how your website’s visitors interact with your site and which areas they find more interesting than others. Also having a customer feedback form is a great way to get all kinds of information from your customers. Offering some kind of discount coupon for taking the time to fill out the form is well worth the small profit margin you will lose from coupon redemption. Though they are a much less targeted form of feedback, online polls offer the customer a way to give quick feedback on a specific question and often have high response rates for this very reason.
Once you understand the needs of your customer base you can more easily target them to try and drive more sales through your online business.