The old saying goes: know your enemy. I find another version of that phrase a bit more useful in my business.
Know your customer.
You have to know them inside and out. Quite literally. Creating a customer profile will help you align everything from how you talk to them on social media, to how many times you do or don’t call them, to knowing what kind of return policy to offer.
You need to take the time, dig deep and really understand not just the demographics but the psychographics of your customer.
(Psychographics, as defined by Wikipedia , is “… the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. Because this area of research focuses on interests, attitudes, and opinions…”)
Zero-ing in on one customer and literally sketching out a profile of this person is the best way to successfully market to them.
And it’s easier to do than you think!
5 Basic Steps to Creating the Perfect Customer
Step One: Look to Your Current Customer Base
By now, you likely have dozens if not hundreds of customers. What do you know about them? Probably more than you think you do. Do what you have to see them all together. Export a report, pull up an online spreadsheet, whatever you can do to compare them side by side.
Now try to identify some themes. Suss out similarities. Depending on how much customer information you collect from them, some of this will be obvious and you can chart how many fall into these categories:
- Age Range
- How did they find you?
- How frequently do they buy from you?
- How big is their average order?
But you need to know more, much more, if you’re going to start really focusing in on one persona, one profile.
How do you do that? Easy…
Step Two: Survey Your Customers!
As business owners, no where near enough of us survey our existing customer base. We sell them and move on and sometimes never speak to them again. That’s crazy!
They are an absolute wellspring of useful information and incredible market research. Just by talking to your existing and past customer base you will have just about everything you need to build your future campaigns upon.
So send out a survey! Promise them something in return. A coupon for a future purchase, a chance to enter a free drawing. Something. Anything!
This kind of survey is especially effortless to put together and even actually fun for them to fill out. You are trying to find out about them, who they are, what they do and what makes them tick. The great news is that most people love to talk about themselves. So your responses should be plentiful.
Here are some things you should ask when you are surveying for the purposes of putting together a customer profile:
- Their salary range
- Their ethnicity
- Their marital status
- What they do for a living, if they work at all
- What do they (and their family members) like to do for fun
- Why did they purchase from you?
- What problem did your product or service help them solve?
- Would they recommend you to a friend?
Step Three: Segment, segment, segment
Now that you have a lot of data on your current customer base, break them into segments. Maybe you found that you have done a good job attracting older women with middle incomes. But wait a minute – when you do happen to sell a younger, higher income man…he spends more. A lot more.
So while you don’t want to alienate your older customer base, you could create your ideal customer profile based on him, not her. Either way, you have to choose one. Trying to market and sell to everyone will just dilute your message. Don’t try to be something to everybody…try to be everything to just one segment.
If two common segments seem to present themselves, choose one to start with and focus upon. If you later feel that you don’t have the traction you think you should have in the marketplace, you can always go back later and try focusing on segment number two.
But do not try to target both at the same time. Again, that will dilute your message and possibly confuse and turn off your entire customer base.
Step Four: Research Them
Now that you have narrowed down your desired customer, research them like crazy. Learn as much as you can about them and their buying behaviors as humanly possible.
You want to find out a lot of things about them. Including:
- Where they shop
- Where they socialize (on and offline)
- What is important to them
- What’s not important to them at all
- Do they respond to email marketing?
- Do they respond to TV? Radio?
This is where you need to spend the majority of your time. There are many reports and studies for sale to help you understand the buying behaviors and social haunts of your target market. These can be an invaluable shortcut if time is tight but money is not.
If your budget isn’t quite there yet, don’t despair. The Internet is bursting with great and free research. The trick is finding it and then verifying it. I usually don’t ‘trust’ a statistic until I see it on at least 3 different, credible sites.
But then again, you’re not vouching for anything you find as an absolute, unassailable truth. You’re just trying to find the sweet spot for your target market. So do some research, verify to the best of your ability, test, experiment, repeat.
Here are just a few links to get you started:
Pew Research Center
Nielsen Insights (for the European market)
Step Five: Build Rapport
After running through those four steps you should have great sense of who your ideal customer is and also what his or her buying habits might be. You should know what they like to talk about, what they like to share online and what they most likely will engage with.
So the only thing left to do is go out there and build a rapport with them!
Remember– marketing and sales are two very different functions for very important reasons. Once you have “found” your ideal customer, don’t blow it by overwhelming them with sale, sale, sale. Befriend them, talk to them and make yourself interesting to them. This is the stage where you simply want to get their attention, not go in for the kill.
Overall, once you have a specific segment or ideally a specific person in mind, you’ll find marketing so much easier. Your words will flow, your priorities will be clear, your tone will be relaxed and friendly. Ultimately, your marketing will be irresistible.
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