Whether it’s from websites, social media, articles or magazines, it’s vital to glean as much information about your customers as possible.
I’m in the very preliminary stages of starting an orthotics business. How can I find where my customers are and how can I assess what they require? Is an online survey sufficient?
Let me answer your questions, out of order.
How do you find your potential customers?
I don’t think at any point anyone has said find “one” place potential customers hang out. They have probably said that you should hang out where they hang out, which could be a multitude of places.
In your case, off the top of my head, I’d say podiatrists would be a place they’d hang out. Specialist shoe stores would be a place they hang out, websites dealing with orthotics would be a place they hang out.
You’ll need different methods of contact for different groups.
For example: To contact the young women direct. I suggest you do what most of them probably do.
Google “orthotics for young women” and see what comes up. Take advantage of information that is already available.
Set up a Twitter account and search for people talking about orthotics and join in the conversation.
Put out a call on Twitter that you want to talk to young women who use orthotics – set up your own hashtag so you can follow the conversation and see what happens. Put a call out over Facebook as well.
Once you have contact with people, ask if they’d mind filling in a quick survey.
You will most likely need to send an email or write a letter in which you ask if they’d mind filling in a quick online survey, or set up an appointment to talk with them. You’ll need to give them a reason why you want their opinion.
Find relevant shops, go in at a time when they’re not busy and ask some questions. Face to face.
You’ll be surprised how willing people are to help you – providing you go in fully prepared, personable and with respect to their need to make their customers a priority – ie. you may have to wait if a customer comes into the shop.
Is an online survey sufficient?
Considering you don’t have a base of people to start with – you’re looking for people to give you their opinions when they have no knowledge or relationship with you – I’d say no.
Your survey would simply be another survey from another person or business they don’t know. Mind you if you ran an online survey offering an iPad as a prize, that could work.
You could hire a company that specialises in running focus groups and get them to find out the information you want.
However, you do say you’re in the ‘very preliminary’ stages of research, so perhaps you should prioritise where to start.
Whether it’s websites, Twitter, Facebook, social media, articles or magazines, glean as much information from them and then look at podiatrists, shoe shops, associations and research companies.
I hope this has helped give you an idea as to where to start. I’m sure you’ll think of many other places to find your potential customers.