Every business owner knows that they need to understand their target audience. It’s a central building block of any startup and a cornerstone element of launching a brand.

But most entrepreneurs lose focus of this over time. We get distracted by success or panicked by failure. We get buried in responsibilities and the daily grind.

If you want your company to grow, take it from someone who’s grappled with the “know your audience” gospel for years. You really need to get this to work — not just once, but all of the time. If you’re trying to spark growth for your company, here are a few things to inspire you to keep the customer (and your knowledge of them) front and center throughout that process.

Seek Feedback (and Stay Humble About It)

You’re doing great! You’ve started a business. You’re a rising star. But you aren’t all that and a bag of chips.

Don’t let success warp your understanding of what makes that success happen in the first place. You may have had a good idea and found the right people who need that solution to make your business thrive.

But your target audience’s needs change over time. Don’t assume you’ve “figured them out” and call it a day.

Always be in learning mode with your customers. Seek genuine feedback through your customer service interactions, social channels, surveys — wherever there are touch points.

Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” addressed humility in feedback when he said, “It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it.”

Humble feedback loops are essential to your ability to adapt to your customer’s needs. It ensures that you know who they are and what makes them tick over time.

Tie Expert Knowledge to Customer Pain Points

As you learn more about your customers directly from them, it’s important that you implement this information as part of your growth strategy. This is largely done through content marketing. That is the creation of content that specifically answers audience needs at targeted points along the sales funnel.

For instance, a plumber might create a piece of content for their website that answers a basic question about why a toilet isn’t flushing. This attracts a curious consumer looking for an answer.

They might create another piece of content that discusses features to look for when replacing a toilet. This helps potential customers who are further down the sales funnel.

In both cases, these add value to the consumer — at least, they do if they’re well crafted. A key to growing your audience is using your knowledge of the customer to infuse your content with well-informed, up-to-date, and relevant information. One of the best ways to do this is to work with SMEs (subject matter experts) to provide the best information, insights, and solutions possible.

“Growth and knowledge of your target audience go hand in hand,” says Casted CEO Lindsay Tjepkema, “We have to stop taking the traditional marketing approach of building generic content factories and adopting a ‘we’ll see what sticks’ mindset. We need to amplify our content by working with experts to improve its value. Only then should we push it out in front of those who need it.”

Your content should always be a deep reflection and detailed representation of what you know about your audience.

Use User-Generated Content as a Synergistic Growth Solution

As you pursue customer feedback and look for ways to integrate it into your marketing strategy, keep negative feedback internal. Don’t ignore it. Use it to perfect your offerings.

At the same time, you can also utilize the positive feedback that you receive. In fact, you can often integrate it right into your marketing plan as user-generated content (UGC).

Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, stressed the importance of UGC when he said, “Twenty-five percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user generated content and thirty-four percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.”

User-generated content is a powerful marketing tool. It restores a sense of humanity to your brand while simultaneously deepening your insights into who your target audience is.

In this case, though, you aren’t just learning about your audience’s pain points or getting constructive feedback about how you can better address them. You’re also seeing what you’re doing that works.

Trust me when I say that this is key.

If you’re going to grow by knowing your audience better, figure out what it is that you do to already meet their needs well in the first place. That’s your foundation. From there, you can expand to a more detailed and intimate understanding of what else you can do and what additional solutions you can develop.

Unleashing Growth By Getting to Know Your Customers Better

Okay, let’s recap. Growing your company and knowing your customer go hand in hand. If you want your company to grow, you need to approach knowing your customer seriously (and not just once but over time).

Stay humble and seek real feedback. Create expert-backed marketing content that weaves your ever-evolving understanding of your customer into the mix. Let customers create that content alongside you through positive user-generated content.

By deliberately embracing your user and adapting your business model to fit their needs, you can unleash new growth for your brand and set the stage for long-term success.