Article written by Graham Fitzpatrick, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre.

If the customer is always right, then why are we not listening? This statement goes beyond complaints, refunds and bad online reviews. I am talking about knowing more about your customers and understanding their needs. The days of supply and demand and mass marketing strategies are long gone.  Understanding customers needs is crucial to your brand, your sales and your profitability. Marketing is now about problems and solutions.

One of the best tools to help you listen and understand your customers is using the 4 Cs of Marketing. Yes, some of you would be familiar with the 4 Ps of marketing which are based on Product, Price, Place and Promotion. The problem with this is it is so one sided. While you get an understanding of what your business is selling and how you are going to sell it.  It does not look at your customers’ needs and perceptions. The 4Cs look at the Customer, Costs, Convenience and Communications.

The first C, the Customer focuses on customer needs. What are the problems your customers are having? You need to make sure that your solution meets their needs and expectations.

The second C, Costs look at not only the affordability and value of your products and service.  It also looks at how much time will it take for your customer to access your product? How much benefit does it actually provide? How much time will it take to use or set up the product? 

The third C, Convenience looks at the shopping habits of your customers. Do they buy online, or do they prefer the whole bricks and mortar style shopping experience? Also make sure the total transaction experience is simple and user friendly.

The final C, Communications looks at what channels you are going to use to speak or interact with your customers. This should apply right through the buying process including pre-sale, point of purchase and post-sale while growing and maintaining a strong relationship.

The 4 Cs are an important tool to help you focus on your customers and to listen to what they need.