SBM 101: What Politicians Can Teach You About Understanding Customers

Small Business Marketing 101One of our local Congressmen is Jim Matheson. Several years ago, while attending a public relations class, one of staff members showed up to discuss his public relations strategy and how he determined which ways he would vote on different issues. To say the least, it was a revealing look inside American politics and it gave me a better understanding of how businesses can better understand their customers and take action to gain their support.

There seems to be three different approaches to politics today. We have politicians that listen to their constituents and vote accordingly. There are politicians that done care about their constituents and vote how they want. And there are those that use a combination of these approaches.

Matheson’s staff member revealed that he has one of the more sophisticated approaches to keeping tabs on what his constituents are thinking about various issues. His staff works diligently to help him make sound policy decisions based upon voters’ opinions. He is a politician that really seems to care what his voters think. At the same time, he has made a few critical decisions that have gone against popular sentiment.

What can you, the small business owner, take away from this?

  1. You need a way to learn about your customers. What do they think about your business? What do they want? What would they improve? Why do some customers choose your competitors over you?
  2. When your customers have great ideas, act on them when relevant. Not every idea they have will help you make more money; however, some of these ideas might help you increase customer satisfaction. Over the long haul, you need to determine which ideas and suggestions can help you become more profitable and/or will improve satisfaction.
  3. Don’t forget to be creative. Your customers won’t always have all the answers. You and your team might have ideas for a new service or product that no one has thought of. Give it a try, measure your results, and make improvements along the way. Your ability to innovate over time is absolutely critical to your long-term success.
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