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5 Ways to Validate a Business Idea, Right Now

Don't let your day job or lack of capital stop you from finding and testing a business idea. Here's how.
Last year, I embarked upon a personal challenge to validate a business idea in 30 days. To make it even more difficult, it was a random idea chosen by my readers. They asked me to do it without using my existing website, traffic and business connections and without spending more than 20 hours per week on the project. On top of that, I limited myself to spending no more than $500 validating this idea. The experiment was a success.In just two weeks, I built an email list of 565 subscribers without having an actual website. Then, I reached out to a handful of those subscribers and pre-sold 12 copies of a book that didn't even exist yet, all in less than 30 days. I wrote about the experiment in real-time with in-depth weekly updates, successes, failures and lessons learned along the way, right here in my validation challenge. Today, I want to share with you the five most effect…

Want to Attract More Loyal Customers? Focus on This Marketing Strategy.

Imagine your customers as faces in a crowd. As you stand on the stage, trying to engage with them about your product, you see some of them turn to talk to friends, yawn and text -- one even leaves to grab a soda. But you can also pick out a few faces that seem to be listening. Actually, they seem to be fully engaged -- even your jokes are a hit.
Customer-centric marketing is about pitching your brand to those in the audience who are actually listening -- the ones you can bring real value to. (Let’s face it, the others are only there for the refreshments.) Forming a deep understanding of the customers who want to be there, their preferences and their patterns of behavior is the only way you can develop a truly effective customer-centered strategy to get the highest ROI.
Customer-centric marketing isn’t just beneficial -- it’s essential. The world moves so quickly that the only way to compete is to nurture, protect and foster the bond you have with your top-notch customers. But you don’t have to cut your reach or shun the majority of customers from your brand message to be customer-centric.
Here are five steps you can take to start becoming customer-centric:

1. Don’t ditch anyone. 

You don’t have to actively fire your “bad” customers. When you start focusing on your top customers, the bad seeds will start dropping out on their own accord, and high-quality clients will replace them. Targeting your marketing toward the precise qualities that your best customers embody doesn’t limit your delivery -- it pinpoints the most effective target for your brand energy and intensifies it.

2. Collect 360-degree data. 

Collecting data is the hardest part of this process but to create a strategy that propels you, you’ll need a 360-degree picture of your best customers.
Your data-collecting campaigns should include purchase data, pages viewed and the number of site visits, as well as how these figures have changed. You should also track the customer lifetime value, which measures the predicted profit each individual will earn you. Together, these metrics paint a detailed picture of your customer and identify where you should be investing. 

3. Test and analyze your messaging. 

Once your data collection is positioned to uncover every facet of your customer, you can closely monitor the comments, likes and shares of your message. With this real-time feedback -- positive or negative -- you can optimize your approach by targeting your marketing strategy more precisely toward your top customers.
Facebook is a powerful and accurate tool when it comes to strategic customer-centric targeting. According to the 2013 Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, Facebook’s targeting provides 89 percent accuracy. However, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks can also provide great testing possibilities. Do your research, and discover which avenues work best for your offerings.

4. Create a long-term plan. 

Once your high-quality customer base has become the center of your marketing strategy, you can use the analyses you’ve conducted to generate a long-term strategy with these customers in mind. As you refine your personalized engagement with your top 20 percent, your long-term plan will create opportunities for that 20 percent to expand until your client list is 100 percent top-notch.

5. Reward regularly. 

Use a rewards system to retain your good customers once you’ve identified them. Feeling noticed and rewarded for loyalty will incite clients to connect with your brand on an emotional level. You could even use a points-based loyalty program to really make your customers look forward to engaging with your brand. Use a simple system with round numbers of points equating to a particular gift or a percent off the customer’s next purchase.
With your targeted, personal interactions, your top-quality customers will feel warm and affectionate toward your brand, and that kind of customer will definitely bring along crowds of friends and kindred spirits to fill that auditorium back up. 

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