Thursday, February 9, 2012

Know Your Customers

When we are selling products or services, we must be able to know who are our customers. Unfortunately, in most cases, I've talked to people who cannot even describe who are the primary users of their products.

As I've said in my previous blog, to be successful in business, entrepreneurs and businessmen must learn how to sell. Selling is essential in all aspects of business. Getting people to buy your product is the only way to grow your business. If you can't convince enough people to buy what you have to offer, your business will surely close down.

You may be offering the best product in the market but if you cannot tell it to your target market, you will not get any sales.
image from

As an entrepreneur, the first thing you must do is to know who your customers are. Know them inside and out. Know what they need and want. Know their aspirations. Know how will they feel once they purchase your product.

Let me illustrate.

I once worked in a start-up online job portal. I was tasked to develop new opportunities for our company to explore and make money without straying too much on the vision and mission we have laid out. Our company aims to give all job opportunities an equal chance of getting hired. The company wanted to do this by highlighting both the technical and behavioral qualifications of the job-seeker.

There is no question about the a candidate's technical qualification since it is already printed in a resume or curriculum vitae. A candidate will know his behavioral fit for a job by answering an assessment. First world countries have given weight for a candidate's fitness for a job. However, in our Philippines, most companies are not utilizing this tool that much.

Companies still place importance on a candidate's technical and measurable qualities.

There were so many things the company I was working for tried. The company ventured into MLM; they even tried franchising the system even without developing a proof of concept. As expected, these ventures failed.

Cutting the long-story short, the company tried selling assessments to job-seekers. These are job-seekers who are on a tight budget. These are job-seekers who just want to get any job because they need the money. Obviously, there was a disconnect in this system.

Leveling the playing field for job-seekers who graduated in Manila and the provinces needs the cooperation of the local government units and the businesses who are found in the provinces. The local government can only do so much with a limited budget. At the same time, the local businesses need all the help they can get to make their business grow. If they can get the right people without spending too much on classified ads, they will surely take the opportunity.

An integration among the needs of the local government units, business-owners and job-seekers is necessary. And this was what I developed. Local government units would be able to file, update and record all the job openings and job-seekers in the area. They will be able to match the requirements needed by the companies to the applicants in their database.

Business-owners will be able to go online and sift through the resumes of applicants and job-seekers in their community. The LGU can charge for a small fee or can offer the service to the business-owners for free. They can even shoulder the cost of the assessment before they hire the applicant just to be sure that the applicant will fit the job.

Applicants will immediately know the companies that are hiring in their area. They can apply to these companies with a click of the mouse. They don't to waste money by going to the company in person.

It took sometime before the program was able to take off the ground. We did alpha and beta testing.

Unfortunately, events happened that forced me to leave the company and ventured out on my own. When I talk to my previous colleagues, they have been telling me that the system that I developed is working and they were able to make good money out of it.

The point of the story is this, before you launch any product or start any endeavor get to know your target market. Find out how they will purchase your product.

In the end, you may have to reposition your product once you understand who your customers are.