Talk to your customers. Seems so simple and obvious. But, it may not be. When I say talk to them, what I mean is get feedback from them. What do you like? What don’t you like? What would you change if you were in charge? These are very broad, open ended questions that have endless possible answers. However, the feedback you could receive could be invaluable.
I worked for a company once where we regularly called and visited our customers to get feedback. We then used that feedback sometimes to change our marketing activities. This allowed us to be more successful at our jobs by tailoring what we did to our market.
If you value marketing, then you know that your business centers around your customers. Maybe they have an insight from the outside that you don’t have or simply cannot see. Ask questions. Get feedback.
When you get feedback, you don’t have to always use it. However, when you do use it, be sure to thank the customer for his or her insight. Maybe even provide them a gift as part of your thank you. It will make them feel good to know that you actually paid attention to what they had to say.
Do know however that a lot of feedback that you receive will be very contextual. In other words, it will be something that that one particular customer wants. You have to determine though if enough other customers want that same thing before going out and making whatever change it is. If that customer is the only one, then your changes will be done to make only one person happy. That is not an efficient use of resources.
In sum, ask questions. Many great marketing ideas have come from customers. Who knows, you might find some for your business.