Understand WHEN customers buy
Depending on the nature of your business, the time of day, day of the week, or month of the year may be key times where demand peaks or troughs. Think ice cream vans in summer vs winter, or retail outlets serving local office workers during mid-morning vs lunchtime.
These peaks and troughs may be difficult (although not always impossible) to influence but they have an impact on your business that you need to build into your plans and your budget.
Understand HOW OFTEN customers buy
What's the average life-span of your product, and when will a customer who's previously bought from you be looking for an update or replacement? It could be daily, monthly, quarterly, once every 3 years, or longer. So put a process in place to contact them with details of your latest offering at a time they're likely to make a purchase. Keep a record of customers' contact detials, what they've bought and when, but be aware of the Data Protection Act
and make sure you comply with it.
Understand HOW MUCH customers buy
You should already know, or be able to find out, what your average order quantity is. Now think what would increase or decrease the amount each customer buys from you. It may be seasonal factors, your price, the value they get, a new competitor entering the market, or external factors affecting your industry or the economy in general.
By understanding the factors that affect different customers and their buying patterns you're in a much better position to estimate future demand. If you’re selling to wholesalers you're likely to be selling in very large quantities so it's even more important to understand the factors that affect buyer behaviour.
Understand WHERE customers prefer to buy from
Does your customer segmentation and customer analysis indicate your customers prefer to buy from a shop, via mail order, via a face to face visit, or via the internet? Understanding where your customers prefer to buy will help you establish the most effective presence, use the most effective sales channels, and decide where and how to promote your business. To buy from you, customers need to know you exist, so knowing where your ideal customers buy from will help concentrate your promotions in areas or places they're most likely to see you.
Understand WHY customers choose to buy from you
Customers buy from you because you're satisfying a need, they benefit from using your product or service, and because you offer them something your competitors don’t. This ‘something’ is called your USP (Unique Selling Point) and the better you understand what your USP is, the better you can market your product.
Your USP could be something very simple, such as shorter delivery turnaround, or it could be very technical related to the specifications or quality of your products. Whatever your USP is you need to understand it, protect it, and make sure you use it in all your marketing and customer communications.