When speaking with clients, at show's or just having a beer with associates, a common observation or question asked of me (Because of my age and receding hairline?) is "You've seen business change over the years, what's the difference between then and now?” My answer is always “There’s no difference between then and now. From the first caveman selling used wheels to the present day, business really hasn't changed. It's all about hard work, listening to you customers, delivering on your customer’s needs, and building a relationship with your customers. No matter if you own a pizza shop or a popular website, listen to your customer and deliver on their needs".
I'll give you two examples of what I’m talking about.
I was in the Silicon Valley for a meeting and company in the building heard I was there. The company had a social media game whose revenue was fairly flat. They generated revenue via virtual good sales and upgrades to paid subscriptions from free to play. Pretty standard business model for this type of game. Their problem was their ARPU per user was extremely low and they had tried many “modern marketing” techniques all of which had failed.
They asked me what I would do in their shoes. For me it was simple “Ask your users why they don’t purchase or upgrade? Send out a survey, order some pizza and get a bunch in a room however you want to do it but just ask them”
Their response was we don’t want to “communicate with our customers we need a technical solution”. Last I heard they are not around.
Moral of this story: Your best customer is the one you already have and don't be afraid to talk to your clients.
While doing some competitive analysis (posing as a potential enterprise client) for Youneeq I phoned up one of our competitors and asked to speak to someone in sales or business development. I was told by the receptionist that sales and business development “Do not answer the phone and can only be contacted by email”. I was floored by this response. I immediately thought “thank-you" for being my competition.
Moral of the story: How do you know what your customer wants if you don't listen to them.
Remember to follow a top down bottom up strategy. Business happens on the street and strategy in the boardroom. If you want to be successful listen to the street, strategize in the boardroom and then implement.
Moral of the topic: Paying customers will always tell you what they want and don't be afraid to talk to your clients.
Please pass on your own experiences.