When is the last time you took the time to really listen to your target audience? I mean really listen with the intent to learn something new about them. What if you could eavesdrop on your potential customers to find out what they’re talking about, what they’re thinking and what they secretly want? Would you do it? Of course you would! Any advantage you can gain over your competition to find out what your target audience wants so that you can provide that thing to them better and faster than anyone else… that’s what you want. That’s what we all want!

But how can you eavesdrop on your potential customers without them finding out?

Simple. Go to the place where they are talking openly about the problems they are struggling with and just listen to what they are saying. Don’t jump in and solve their problem, just listen.

But where are they hanging out and talking openly like this? Ha! You guessed it… online. People say a lot of stuff online about what they wish they had or what they want improved or how they wish something or another worked. All you have to do is figure out where they are saying these things and then start taking notes about what they say.

You know what solution you have for your customer’s problems. They have a headache, you’ve got the aspirin. But what if their problem isn’t exactly what you think it is or if there’s some new angle or twist to their problem that you haven’t discovered yet. This is the way to find out.

You’ve already done the research about where your target audience hangs out (if not, then go through that exercise here). So you know which websites they frequent and where they gather to speak to other people just like them. Maybe they chat about their issue on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe they are in forums for mom groups or sports discussions. Maybe they research online and use Pinterest to gather solutions on their pinboards.

Or maybe they aren’t online at all and you need to go find them in person. Maybe they enjoy networking events at the Chamber of Commerce or maybe they are in the stands at their kid’s basketball game on a Saturday afternoon.

You know your audience, now it’s time to go listen to what they’re saying. Strike up a conversation if you’re able. Don’t pitch your business, just talk to them person-to-person. Listen when they say “I wish that…” or “If only someone had…”

How can your product or service solve their problem? How can you tweak your product or service to better fit their specific needs? Can you ask questions naturally in the conversation to gain more insight into their thought process?

Remember, this is not about selling. This is about listening. It’s about learning and gaining a deeper understanding of what is important to your customer base.

Once you spend some time (schedule it regularly for the next several months), you are then able to craft your message or tweak your product or service to better serve your audience. And before you know it, your customers will start saying that you’ve read their mind because you have spoke so clearly to exactly what their problem or request was… before they even asked you for it.