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How to get your customers involved in your business

25th February 2016 Print

Customers have never found it so easy to talk to businesses. Gone are the days of phone calls and handwritten letters – they’re now talking to their favourite brands using social media and they’re talking about us on major websites too. They provide reviews knowing full well they’ll be read by large audiences, and draw on the experiences of others before they commit to buying a product. Whilst this feels a bit daunting for business owners, there’s a substantial silver lining: this power can be harnessed in order to involve customers in products and services, helping us to evolve and make the right changes.

How can we get customers involved?

One way of involving customers is to include them in your design processes. Why not carry out some online surveys to find out what they think of your branding? Ask for feedback on what they do and don’t like, asking them specific questions relating to everything from the colours you use, typography, materials, packing and logos. You could also ask them to give their opinion on the overall look and feel of your websites, your social media channels and your printed material. The answers you receive could be invaluable for refining the design of your brand – they might help you identify areas of improvement that you’re just to ‘close’ to see. If you’d like to do something like this, make sure your customers feel comfortable giving honest feedback, and reward them with incentives like discount codes or freebies for their time and effort.

How else can we do it?

You could also involve your customers by asking them to assist with product development. Walkers is a great example of a company who has done this. Their ‘Do Us A Flavour’ campaign asked consumers to create their own crisp flavourings, encouraging shoppers to buy bags as a means of voting for the variety they’d like to become a permanent fixture on the supermarket shelves. Not only is this a clever marketing technique (Walkers doubtless sold plenty of products from people keen to try new flavours), but it’s a great technique for making customers feel included. Seeing suggestions come to fruition is encouraging: it makes consumers feel as though their opinion counts and that the product is what they need, not what they’re ‘making do’ with.

How about involving customers in marketing strategies?

Sometimes, making room for audience participation means keeping up with the social networks you’re building. It involves engaging with customers and replying whenever they interact with you (something that innocent smoothies do very well). But there are more ways to do it. First, why not publish glowing customer reviews from your website onto your social media profiles, like Facebook? Good testimonials are invaluable: they help to build trust in your business and convince customers to part with their cash for your service. Second, why not appoint some brand ambassadors? Bloggers who create a positive buzz around your business are worth befriending: done well, they’ll drum more business, and also allow you to tap into the influence they hold amongst your target customers.