Kwabena Okyire Appianing

B2B marketing

5 Questions Every Company Needs to Answer

About the author

Kwabena Okyire Appianing

Considered the #1 authority on engineering profitable customer acquisition campaigns, Kwabena is the marketing expert other experts go to when they need help

Table of contents

Have you ever started a business and felt like something was missing? Like you weren’t sure how to make it stand out? Well, there are some key questions that every company needs to answer – questions that can guide your success.

Knowing the answers to these questions makes a HUGE difference. They give your business a clear direction and focus. They help you understand exactly what you offer and who you offer it to. Think of them as the building blocks for creating a successful and impactful company.

You’ll gain a clearer understanding of your business model, making it easier to reach your goals.

Many successful businesses ask these questions regularly – they are a key part of planning and growth.

Ready to dive in? Let’s explore these essential questions and find out how they can take your company to the next level.

Number 1. What problem does your product or service solve?

Okay, at first glance, this question might seem super simple. But it’s the foundation your entire business is built on! Why? Because people don’t just randomly buy stuff. They buy stuff to fix something that’s bugging them. So, your job is to become a problem detective!

Think Like Your Customers

What sorts of things make your ideal customer grumpy? What are they sick and tired of dealing with? Picture them tossing and turning at night – what’s keeping them awake? Understanding the problems they face is the key to showing them how you can help.

Example: The Dog-Walking Dilemma

Let’s pretend you’re launching a dog-walking company, like in the earlier example. Sure, the obvious problem is that dogs need exercise. But dig a little deeper!

Maybe your customers are busy professionals who feel super guilty about leaving their furry friends home alone all day. They want their dogs to be happy, but work gets in the way. Or, perhaps you’re thinking of elderly folks who just can’t physically manage long walks anymore, and that breaks their heart.

See how that works? It’s not just about the dog getting a walk. It’s about solving those deeper problems that truly matter to the customer – like guilt, worry, or sadness.

The Problem Hunter Toolbox

Here are a few ways to get inside your potential customers’ heads:

  • Surveys and Interviews: Directly ask people about their pain points!
  • Social Media Listening: Check out forums or online groups where your ideal customers hang out. What are they complaining about?
  • Think About Your Own Life: Have you ever faced a problem your business could solve? That experience is super valuable!

The Power of Understanding Problems

Once you nail down that core problem your business tackles, everything else becomes clearer. You’ll know exactly how to pitch yourself to potential customers and create services that truly hit the mark. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Number 2: What’s Your Value Proposition?

Okay, imagine this: you’re at a huge marketplace filled with stalls selling the same thing. Maybe everyone’s offering lemonade, or paintings, or even dog-walking services! How do you make a customer pick your stall out of the crowd? That’s where your value proposition comes in.

Think of it like your business’s superpower. It’s about more than just saying, “Hey, I sell this thing!” A value proposition explains why your version of that “thing” is the absolute best choice. It’s the special sauce that makes you stand out.

How to Find Your Special Sauce

Here’s a few questions to get you started:

  • What do you do better than anyone else? Are you faster? More reliable? Do you offer something totally unique?
  • How do you solve your customer’s problem in a different way? Maybe you understand their needs on a deeper level, or you’ve got a super convenient way of providing your service.
  • What makes your customers rave about you? Is it your amazing customer service? Your attention to detail?

Example: Upgrading Your Dog Walks

Let’s go back to that dog-walking business. Here are a few value proposition angles you could take:

  • The Reliable Choice: You guarantee walks every single day, rain or shine. Busy professionals know they can count on you.
  • The Personalized Pet Pal: You send photo updates and detailed reports after each walk, so owners feel connected even when they’re at work.
  • The Exercise Expert: You specialize in high-energy breeds, offering play sessions or jogs instead of just a stroll.

Why Your Value Proposition Matters

A strong value proposition is like a magnet for your dream customers. Here’s what it can do:

  • Grab Attention: In a crowded market, you need to stand apart in a way that’s meaningful.
  • Justify Your Price: If you’re the best, you can charge what you’re worth.
  • Guide Your Business: A clear value proposition helps you make decisions that stay true to your brand.

Remember, your value proposition isn’t set in stone! As your business grows and you learn more about your customers, you can tweak and sharpen it over time

Number 3. Who is Your Target Market?

Think of your business like an arrow. To hit the bullseye, you need to know exactly where you’re aiming! That’s what defining your target market does. It ensures you’re not wasting effort trying to sell to people who will never be interested in what you’ve got.

Trying to make everyone happy is a recipe for a boring, forgettable business. Specificity is your friend! The more focused you are on exactly who you serve, the better you can tailor everything – from your product to your marketing – to fit their needs.

Playing Target Market Detective

It’s time to create a little profile of your ideal customer. Here are some questions to get the ball rolling:

  • The basics are: Age, location, job title, and income level.
  • Lifestyle: Hobbies, interests, and how they spend their free time.
  • Pain Points: What struggles do they face that your business solves?
  • Personality: Are they outgoing or reserved? Tech-savvy or a bit old-school?
  • Where Do They Hang Out? What websites, magazines, or social media platforms do they use?

Example: Who Wants a Dog Walker?

Let’s revisit the dog-walking example. Here are a couple of different target markets you could focus on:

  • The Busy Young Professional: Works long hours, lives in an urban apartment, and feels guilty about leaving their dog cooped up. They value reliability and convenience.
  • The Active Senior: Still loves their furry companion, but can’t manage long walks anymore. They prioritize safety and gentle care for their aging dog.

See how different these two groups are? Your message to each one would be completely different!

The Power of a Focused Approach

Here’s why zeroing in on your target market is so important:

  • Laser-focused Marketing: You know exactly where to find your ideal customers and what kind of messaging will resonate with them.
  • Products that Hit the Mark: You can tailor them to deeply solve your target customers’ specific problems.
  • Stronger Brand: When you speak directly to a certain type of person, it builds trust and loyalty.

Don’t be afraid to niche down! The more specific you can get about who you serve, the better your chances of building a truly successful business are.

Number 4. What’s Your Differentiator, and Why Should Customers Choose You?

Imagine you’re in a massive store with aisles and aisles of the same type of product. How do you pick just one? You gravitate towards the one with something special, right? That’s what a differentiator does for your business – it makes you stand out from the sea of sameness.

Think of your differentiator as your business’s “X Factor.” It’s the reason you deserve a customer’s hard-earned money instead of your competitors. It’s NOT about being the cheapest (that’s a race to the bottom!). It’s about being unique in a way that matters.

How to Find Your Sparkle

Ask yourself these questions to uncover that special something:

  • Expertise: Do you have specialized knowledge or skills others don’t?
  • Values: Are you passionately committed to things like sustainability, social impact, or amazing customer service?
  • Approach: Do you solve problems in a totally new or innovative way?
  • Features: Do you offer something nobody else can, like unique add-ons or customization?

Example: Dog Walks with a Twist

Let’s go back to that dog-walking business. Here are few ways to differentiate yourself:

  • The Dog Whisperer Approach: You have a background in animal behavior, so you offer positive training during walks.
  • The Green Choice: You’re all about eco-friendly practices, like compostable waste bags and bikes instead of cars.
  • The Playtime Expert: You focus on fun and enrichment, so it’s not just a walk, but an adventure with games and training.

Why Differentiation Matters

Having a clear differentiator is a game-changer, because it:

  • Attracts Your People: It quickly tells your ideal customers, “Hey, this is for you!”
  • Commands Higher Prices: When you offer something unique and valuable, you’re not just another commodity.
  • Builds Brand Loyalty: Customers who connect with your “why” come back again and again.

Important Note: Your differentiator should be something you can actually deliver on! Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Being authentic and genuine builds way more trust than empty bragging.

Number 5: How Much Does Your Service Cost?

Pricing has a huge impact on your business. Set your prices too high, and you risk scaring customers away. Set them too low, and you may struggle to make ends meet. Finding that sweet spot can be a delicate balancing act!

It’s tempting to just copy what other businesses are charging. But, that’s a mistake. You need to make pricing decisions based on your unique situation and the awesome value you bring to the table.

The Cost Calculation

First things first, you need rock-solid knowledge of your costs. Think about:

  • Time: How long does it take to provide your service? Don’t forget to include prep, admin stuff, and travel!
  • Materials: Do you need any supplies, ingredients, or tools?
  • Overhead: This includes things like rent, insurance, and website fees – all the costs of running your business.

Once you’ve got a handle on your costs, you’ll know your break-even point—the minimum you need to charge to avoid losing money.

Competitive Research

It’s wise to check out what similar businesses in your area are charging. But remember, this is just a data point, not something you have to copy exactly!

The Value Factor

Here’s where things get interesting. Think about the value you offer customers. Consider these:

  • Unique Expertise: Do you have skills that justify a higher price?
  • Exceptional Quality: Do you go above and beyond compared to your competitors?
  • Solving BIG Problems: The bigger the pain point you tackle, the more value you offer.

Example: Putting a Price on Puppy Playtime

Let’s imagine those dog-walking prices. Here are some potential pricing strategies:

  • Hourly Rate: Simple and straightforward, but customers may compare directly to cheaper “just a walk” services.
  • Package Deals: Offer discounts for booking multiple walks per week – this encourages loyalty.
  • Tiered Pricing: A basic walk, a premium walk (longer, plus training elements), and a deluxe walk (playtime, enrichment, updates) – each tier offers more value, justifying the increased price.

Own Your Worth

Don’t be afraid to charge what your service is worth. If you offer a top-notch experience, there are customers willing to pay for it! Confidence in your pricing shows that you believe in the value you’re creating

Additional Considerations

These 5 questions are your business foundations. But like a real building, foundations need constant maintenance. Revisit these questions regularly – as your business grows, the answers might change! Here are some bonus questions to reflect on:

  • How will you measure success? Beyond profit, what does success look like to you? Happy customers? Impact on your community?
  • What are your core values? Values guide your decision-making, so articulate them clearly.
  • What is your company culture? How you treat employees matters just as much as how you treat customers.

The Takeaway

Running a business is full of unknowns. But, confidently answering these questions provides a roadmap for your company. It gives you a clear sense of purpose and paves the way for well-informed business decisions.

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