It Starts with the Product
Do informal and formal surveys of customers' satisfaction with your products. Pay especially close attention to your front-line. These are the people talking with your customers. They will have some keen insights based on what customers are telling them.
Comments from your customers— good and bad—are an invaluable tool for knowing how your products are perceived. But where they spend their dollars is the real telltale sign of whether your products are on target.
Randy Acton, president of cataloger U.S. Cavalry Inc., recently shared this insight with me: "It's the old adage of staying in touch with the customer. And evaluating their buying habits is the best way to do that. That's how we recognized that some things we could sell 10 years ago weren't appropriate for today's market." As a result, Acton said, "We've shifted our product line by looking at where our industry was headed and where our customers' interests lie."
Alicia Orr Suman is executive editor of Target Marketing. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.