How well do you understand your ideal customer’s buying decisions?

Are you looking to become a small business owner? How well do you understand the rationale behind the buying decisions of your potential customers?

Small business owners in Canada are a force to be reckoned with — over 98 per cent of all businesses in the country have less than 100 employees. If you have immigrated to Canada or are planning on coming here with the idea of developing an entrepreneurial initiative, these numbers speak to great opportunities.

The key to successful entrepreneurship is finding gaps within your target market and how your offering can fill those gaps, and providing an experience that will entice your consumer to develop a relationship with your brand’s identity. This, in turn, will result in repeat business and new client referrals. As small business owners, you must focus your marketing efforts on engaging with potential customers. This includes connecting your brand with them at a deeply human level, understanding patterns within their buying behaviours to refine the story your company tells, and the social impact your brand makes when addressing specific pain points, i.e. the problems customers experience. Your products and services must be aligned with your clients’ values and vision.

Brands aiming to convey messages that leave a robust impact on consumers have to pay close attention to the ongoing process of consumption so they know: 
1. The cues that people respond to in deducing what products are better than others; 
2. How situational factors affect their purchase decisions; and
3. How they influence others based on their own experience acquiring the products they buy.

My own business model is B2B (Business-to-Business) and although the end users of my services are international students, my clients are educational institutions and agents giving their students a competitive edge and tools to make the most of their Canadian journey. Below are tips from my personal experience as an entrepreneur:

Identify and address specific pain points: You must have clarity on the problems that your potential customer is experiencing. For example, once I identified that the isolation and the difficulty to find meaningful work that international students experience are due to a lack of preparation to manage their transition into life in Canada, I created content that illustrated how my program could prepare them for that and keep their mental health on point. The latter was an aspect I strategically built upon, so my potential client could see why my option was better than others.

Be willing to go the extra mile: When you are new to the market and no one knows you, you must put in extra work to get noticed without selling anything directly. Reach out to potential leads, build a relationship, and engage with them so they can experience your services firsthand. When I started my business, I offered demo workshops so potential customers could experience my initiative from the comfort of their venues. I did this in order to ensure that their buying decision was not impacted by situational factors like being rushed or an unfamiliar location.

Tell your story well: The most successful brands are the ones able to tell stories that people can relate to. I shared blog posts and articles that my potential customers could forward to their students since they addressed the issues they faced, and I made sure my website and social media had testimonials from both clients and students illustrating the value that my work with them had added to their lives.

Do your research to understand buying behaviours: Conducting research is paramount in order to uncover consumer insights that lead to a deeper understanding of their motivations.

In my case, I went through numerous customer reviews of what my potential clients were doing right and wrong, the Q&A section on their websites, and social media channels. I conducted competitor analysis and interviewed international students to find out their biggest needs and challenges and if the institutions/ agents were addressing them effectively. All that research equipped me with the information to execute strategies that raised awareness about my services and why they are the optimal solution for my clients.


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