Your customers are the central focus of any marketing activity or strategy your organisation commits to. Once you’ve worked out how to define your target audience, its then time to get to know them inside out.
Knowing more about the tastes and preferences of your potential audience will make it easier to build an effective marketing strategy. Gaining some insight into their likes, dislikes, and ultimately what they find most engaging about your product or service will tell you how to go about the messaging on a business card or event banner.
We’ve listed some key questions to ask in order to discover more about your audience.
Who is my audience?
If an organisation is to understand its customers, it must do some research into what it is their customers look for in a product. Get a good grasp of exactly what influences them in their decision making as this will be key to how you develop your proposition. The B2B and B2C audience will vary widely, for example:
- Consumers may be swayed by personal beliefs and values
- Organisational buyers are more likely to consider business objectives and values
Get a good understanding of who your audience are and what is important to them, and you’ll drastically improve your level of customer care by not only anticipating their needs, but also going above and beyond their expectations of support. Rank your potential types of customers by various factors, including the likelihood of engagement and their own budgets before targeting those who fit each criteria the best.
Research your competitors as well as your customers. Find out what their strengths and weaknesses are and how you can be better placed to fill any gaps in the market. Identify your product’s key potential customers at point of contact, and where possible, get in touch informally to find out if what you have is of interest to them.
What do my customers need?
An organisation can carry out two types of market research in an attempt to get a broader understanding of its customers: primary and secondary.
Primary research can determine the expectations and feelings of your customers. You can analyse consumer behaviour by hearing directly from the customer through methods including interviews and surveys, observation and experimentation.
Secondary research is the collation of data that has already been researched and is in the public domain. Secondary sources can include newspapers, trade journals and government sources. Tread carefully with secondary sources, however, as they can quickly become outdated.
Tip: Asking recent customers a few simple questions could help a great deal in deciding how to reach out to others. Consider creating a small survey to gather customers’ feedback and preferences, which can be e-mailed or tweeted out with a small incentive to complete the questionnaire such as a prize draw entry.
How can I make use of my Customer Database?
If you haven’t already, consider creating a customer database or customer relationship management system (CRM) where you can store all valuable customer information. If studied, CRM systems will show patterns in customer ordering and preferences, giving more scope for customer satisfaction and retention.
Some key criteria to consider when studying your CRM:
- Marital status
- Household income
- Level of education
- Spending habits
There’s just one snag with customer databases – if the details aren’t kept up to date, the whole database is rendered useless. However, get it right and the ease of being able to target different sectors with tailor-made messages will soon pay off.
Tip: Your CRM will identify those loyal customers who deserve special treatment – what can you offer them which would ensure a return purchase? Consider special discounts, memberships or other perks which would not only keep them satisfied but keen to recommend your company.
What makes my company stand out?
Once you’re confident of your customers’ needs, get into the habit of regularly reviewing your unique selling points (USPs) to ensure you’re always offering what they need. Get the information from customers themselves about why they’ve chosen you, and always keep an eye on what competitors are doing, so that when it comes to pleasing your customers, you’re always one step ahead of the game.
Tip: Ask your regular customers why they keep coming back and use their answers to help develop your USPs. If they work for these customers, they could help you to win more business elsewhere.
Do your customer research well, and you’ll be in a better position to market your product successfully.