How well do you know your customers and/or clients?
If you work in a one-to-one business, you better know that Jack is married to Jill and their teenagers Jackie and Diane attend Washington High School.
Your CRM should tell you all of their birthdays, their anniversary and when the twins graduate high school. You better send those greeting cards out at least a week before any special event and never, ever get caught selling in deepening your relationships with the entire family.
But, what if your business is one-to-many? Isn’t knowing your customer’s account number good enough?
Not by a long shot. You need to understand your customers in three ways:
Topological: the first step in understanding your customers is understanding yourself and your business. Who are you, your products and your services in the market place? You can’t be both the best and the cheapest, the most expensive and do-it-yourself, or claim superior customer service when you don’t answer your phone.
You need to carve out your position in the market place and differentiate yourself from your competition. These decisions about who you are by definition segment your market; you cannot and should not attempt to be all things to all people. You set the initial parameters for finding your customers and help them find you by defining your topological parameters.
Demographic: the second step is understanding the various limitations in our audience so we can accurately define our universe of buyers. Demographic data is easily acquired and helps create a mental picture of our target customers – age, gender, income, assets, marital status, etc.
Paired with your topological data, you can conclude that you can successfully market a retirement golf club community to affluent married people age 55+, but will waste no time marketing cruise ship honeymoon excursions to high school graduates. You may sell a few, but it’s not a good use of your marketing time or money.
Psychological: understanding the specific needs, wants and desires of every one of your current and prospective customers is an overwhelming and unattainable assignment. Fortunately, it is far less difficult to group our personality preferences and lifestyle choices into just a few distinct categories.
Best of all, we don’t need to attach electrodes to our customers to discover what they prefer. We can simply observe their past and current behavior as leading indicators of their future behavior.
So, we start with an understanding of the right prospective clients for our business.
Next, we sharpen our thinking by examining the demographic information that further crystallizes our view of our customer segments.
Finally, we direct a laser-beam to the groups of people, based on their past behavior that are emblematic of the specific customers we hope to find.
Long, long ago, we called this creating Buyer Profiles.
Today, it’s much sexier, because we create Personas – representations of the ways potential customers will interact with our business. We need to answer these questions about each persona we plan to develop for our business:
- Age, Gender, Marital Status, Number and Age of Children, Location
- Occupation, Job Title, Income, Assets, Education
- What are their Goals and Values?
- What are their Challenges and Pain Points?
- What Buying Objections could they have?
Lastly, we can our Personas names and descriptors, such as:
- Betty, Soccer Mom
- Barney, Active Retiree
- Fred, Rising Executive and
- Wilma, Social Activist
What’s the value? Hopefully, you stop communicating to your market as if everyone was the same.
Your personas should guide you in communicating to the unique wants, needs and desires of your unique personas. You are now writing and speaking specifically to a person (persona – a group of similar people) that you know what will inspire them to choose you, your business and your products and services.
Once you have developed your personas and changed your messaging, do your customers find you or do you find your customers?
Yes, to both!