It’s been said that knowledge is power, and that’s as true in marketing as in anything else. The more you know, the more effective you’re likely to be at meeting the wants and needs of your customers. But how do you know what they want and need? Some of it is pretty obvious. Let’s say that you own a restaurant. They want good food, good service and reasonable prices.

But what kind of food? The model in the restaurant business is to serve what you want to serve. An alternate model is to serve what they want to eat. Now granted, if they want to eat Italian and that’s what you serve, you may get their business, but that’s not really the issue here. Just because you serve Italian, that doesn’t mean you serve “Lasagna like Mamma used to make.”

The opportunity is to ask your customers if there’s anything else they might want to buy from you. In a restaurant, the question might be, “Is there anything you’d like us to consider adding to the menu?” For a retail store, it might be, “Is there any product or brand you’d like us to consider adding to our inventory?” For a health club, it might be, “Is there any piece of equipment or any kind of class you’d like us to consider adding?”

The alternative to asking is to guess at what they might want or need — or at how they define good service or reasonable pricing! There’s no question that many companies have profited from good guesses, but the opposite is also true. Our advise is, if you want to know, ask!