What Do Small Business Customers Want?

The value of being in sync with the small business customer wants and needs.


Small business customers need to be engaged but in a 1989 interview for Inc. Magazine, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them.

By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” Then, almost 10 years later at a World Wide Developers Conference he said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Jobs moved Apple from a company focused on speed to market to one that used customer intuition to build momentum and growth.

No one can deny that he built a brand that customers are passionate about, “no make that obsessive” about it. He did this by knowing in an ever more complicated world of technology, customers desired simplicity overall. Apple grew revenue from $4.1 billion in 1988 to more than $100 billion by 2007.

Today is a top three global brand.

In creating relevant brand communications, the Apple example is one of many that illustrate the power of knowing your customer very well.

I wrote about the importance of listening to your customers and employees. I also wrote about how small businesses respond to customers and employees or to take action. In this article, we’ll consider integrated communications and ongoing evaluation to keep your strategy well understood by your clients and flexible.

Transformation Can Equal Confusion

Many companies lately have suffered from a lack of transparency. You have only to check the business blogs to see the latest news about brands undergoing transformation and the confusion their customers experience.

  • Who is JC Penney today? Is it for a young hip generation or a loyal following of older adults?
  • Who is Gap? Do they understand how their clients feel about their jeans and t-shirts?
  • What about American Airlines? In the midst of bankruptcy challenges do their employees feel betrayed and unheard and are their customer services suffering?

And even Apple itself recently stumbled and apologized over the omission of Google Maps in the new iPhone.

Next- Small business customer and flexibility in the face of competition


Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter is the Founder and President of Virgilio & Cotter, LLC where she focuses on Marketing and Communications Strategies specializing in the Health Care industries. She also teaches C-Suite Leadership in her role as an adjunct faculty member at NYU's School of Professional Studies. In addition to her own company, Andrea has had both a corporate and entrepreneurial career in marketing and communications as a Global Executive at IBM Corporation and as SVP and Chief Communications Officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), followed by a brand consultancy role at Straightline and a partnership in the workplace culture startup CultureTalk. She speaks several languages, including Spanish, Italian and French has done consulting work with clients in Europe, US and Asia.

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