Sometimes I think we overcomplicate elements of business and need to get back to some basics. I recently was reminded of one of these basic principles: know your customer.
Our staff was invited this summer to attend a conference put on by One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN), a new client of Fulling Management & Accounting, Inc. OYANis a publishing company specializing in educational materials primarily geared for the homeschool market.
The conference was hosted at a nearby university and was focused on teaching high school students how to write stories. Since OYAN was a new client to us, we really were not sure what to expect. Our assumption was if they had 25-30 local kids show up for the weeklong workshop that would probably be a big success for them. We could not have been more wrong!
As we entered the large auditorium for the opening ceremonies, we were pleasantly surprised to see over 220 kids, along with their parents, actively engaged in the program. Kids and families had traveled from all over the country. In fact, some had even traveled from around the world to attend the conference.
One of the owners named Carrol, or “Mrs. S” as the OYAN community affectionately knows her, gave the opening remarks. Now giving the “opening remarks” does not adequately describe the level of enthusiasm in which Mrs. S engaged the audience. She was working the crowd like a rock star. For a minute I thought I was at a One Direction concert (or Everly Brothers concert for those of you that are over 50).
As the initial frenzy subsided and Mrs. S began to highlight some of the individual student’s accomplishments, I noticed something interesting: many of the kids had dressed up in costumes.
These were not your run-of-the-mill Halloween costumes. From where I was sitting, some looked as though they belonged on a Hollywood set. The costumes represented some of the characters in the stories the kids had created. OYAN has taken the art of story writing and made it fun. They encourage kids to find positive ways to express their creativity through their writing.
It was evident that OYAN has a relational mission that allows them to truly know their audience. By knowing the students (the customer), they are able to create educational materials and workshop content that inspires creativity with their audience. (I wish my high school English teacher would have had this resource).
How well do you know your customer?
What can you do to better know your customer? Here are a few tips I learned from Mrs. S that should make knowing your customer easier:
- Be Available – Make sure your customer can reach you or your team.
- Forums – Create forums for your team and your customers to share ideas and thoughts about your products or services.
- Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Find out where your customers hang out in these areas and join them.
- Workshops and 1-on-1 meetings – There’s nothing like spending some face time with your audience and hearing their story.
P.S. I’ll be working on my costume for next year's OYAN conference.
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