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FridayFive: Do You Really Know Your Customers?

The golden rule for every business man is this: ”Put yourself in your customer’s place.‘ – Orison Swett Marden

Of course, every business owner knows this, and it’s certainly nothing new – the quote above is over 100 years old.  But do we really focus on this as much as we should?

The ultimate goal is to market to our customers at a personal level.  To know our customers intimately.  Unfortunately, let’s face it, for most businesses it is almost impossible to know all your customers personally.  To know how they think and feel.  To know what they really want from you.

But it is possible to get close.

On the face of it, this may seem like an academic exercise, but having done this a number of times I can honestly say that it works.

The purpose of this exercise is to relate personally to your customer, as closely as is possible.  You will create a customer ‘persona’.  The persona you create is obviously a generalisation of sorts, but it is surprisingly close to the majority of the customers you are marketing to.  By doing this, and referring back to it, you will gain a powerful marketing approach which is more personal and so, more powerful.  This technique is often used in direct marketing, and if used sincerely will genuinely help your customers connect with you – to build that all important long-term relationship.

Take a blank piece of paper, and complete these 5 steps. Be brutally honest.  Forget everything you’ve based marketing decisions on before (we often have a mutated view of our customers if a consistent persona has not been in our minds before).  And ensure that you create a profile for your IDEAL customer (note, always think singular).

  1. Think of a name. This is essential to enable you to visualise your persona, now and when you come to refer to it later.  Just thinking of that name again will bring back everything you know about your customer persona.  So you will be able to recall your ideal customer with all the marketing you do.
  2. Write down their exact demographics.  Gender, Age, Income Level, Class, Education, Race and Ethnicity.
  3. Describe them completely… What are they wearing? (suit, scrubs, jeans etc.)  Are they tall or short?  fat or thin?.  Do they have a family?  What do they do for a living?  How do they travel?  What other specific traits do they have? (many of your customers may have had a specific experience, a specific problem in life, or a cultural trait).
  4. What is their main desire (pertaining to your product)? To answer this think of a question that the customer might ask themselves e.g. ‘If only I could…’.  This desire must be a deep desire.  For example, people don’t want a vacuum cleaner to get a clean floor, they want a vacuum cleaner to save time and have a beautiful home.
  5. What is the biggest problem that your custom has? Don’t guess.  If you’re not sure, ask your customers.  Arrange a focus group.  Go to forums where they actively discuss your product, and ask them.  This is the most important thing you can ever know about your customer.  This defines your customer more than any other fact.

Bonus Step!: Now that you know your customer more intimately, think of 3 things that will help solve their key problem:

  • The first should be something that you can give them for free, before they are paying customers.  This should get them a good step closer to fulfilling their need.  Some specific knowledge, a sample of some sort, or a consultation, for example.
  • The second should be your main product.  The first product that a new customer usually purchases (to solve their problem).
  • And the third should be the product that you sell to established loyal customers (a repeat subscription or a more exclusive product).

By doing this, you will create the most important elements of your marketing plan- actually, the very foundations of your business.  Without a detailed persona you are shooting blind – talking to no one.  With a persona like this you are speaking to a real person, with a genuine need for your products.  You can speak sincerely, from your heart, with their best intentions in mind.

Concentrate on fulfilling the needs of this ideal customer, and your ideal customers will stick like glue.

A customer’s problem, and how your products solve that problem, are big topics in themselves and the most important aspect of every marketing plan.  I’ll cover these topics in more detail on a later post.

If you haven’t reviewed your customers needs recently, try this, you’ll be surprised how much it helps focus your marketing.

About Anthony Mercer:
Anthony Mercer is an Internet Marketing Specialist delivering modern direct marketing solutions through his Sheffield Internet Marketing Company 'Blymi'. With distinct strategies that improve customer retention, increase online referrals and ultimately increase clients profits. If you enjoyed this post, you may find this Free Internet Marketing Guide useful too.

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Direct Marketing, FridayFive