“Ask the wrong question, and you will get the wrong answer.” — Roy H. Williams
As a business, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, “Who is my customer?” Knowing the answer to, “who is your customer”, is essential to understanding how to sell them your product or service.
There are a few different ways to define your customer. The first step is to define your target market. You can do it by looking at age, gender, location, and interests. Once you have a general idea of your target market, start narrowing down your search for who the customer is.
One way you can do this is to bring in buyer personas. Buyer personas are based on actual research and data and are fictional figurines of your ideal customers. Use buyer personas to determine your customers’ wants and to help you understand them better.
Who is your customer? Look at your competition. See who they target and what kind of clients and customers they attract. That can give you some insights into who your customers might be.
Finally, you can also use surveys and customer feedback to get a better understanding of who is your customer. Ask them questions about their needs and wants and see what they say. This information can be invaluable in helping you determine who is your customer.
Remember, understanding who is your customer and knowing your customer is essential to selling them your product or service. Take time to do the research, and you’ll be able to target your marketing efforts better and attract possible clients. If you can do this, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful customer intelligence strategy.
Definition of Customer
Your main customer is the person that buys your product or service.
When defining your customer, this one is pretty straightforward and one that most businesses use.
However, you need to go beyond this simple definition to craft a top-notch customer intelligence strategy. You must understand what motivates your customers or clients and what they want from a product or service.
Clients are motivated by their underlying felt needs.
People are further motivated to remove pain and pursue pleasure. These are known as pain and pleasure points. Knowing what motivates your customers can help you create a customer intelligence strategy that resonates with them profoundly. It can also help you identify opportunities to improve your product or service.
Understand what motivates your customers and what they’re looking for deep down. Then you can start creating products and services that appeal to them. That will help you increase your sales and grow your business.
Read that again.
An Imaginary Customer
Ask any businessperson, “Who is your customer?“
They often believe, usually with great clarity, a singular customer profile they’ve conjured up. It is the person they think about when making business decisions. Often, this person resembles the business owner with shocking similarity.
“He’s a 50 year old homeowner with a stay at home wife looking to spend as little money as possible on stuff they don’t want to have to pay for.”
The problem with this line of thinking is that it leads to all kinds of weak business choices. It teaches you to think about your products and services in terms of how they appeal to one specific customer. Instead, they should be thinking of how their products and services benefit the broadest range of people possible.
We don’t ask business owners, “Who is your customer”? The question should focus on the plural of “customer.” It doesn’t, though. That’s because you’re not asking the right question.
Ask the businessperson, “Who are your customers?” and you start to get to the right answers.
Now the business owner is forced to think about their entire customer base. They must think of them as a group of individuals with specific wants and needs. And that’s how it should be!
Your customers are not all the same. They have different desires, different budgets, and different levels of knowledge about your product or service. It’s your job to determine how to appeal to all of them.
The Average Customer
Now I’m sure you’re about to tell me that that 25-year-old single mother is just the average customer. That’s not true, either.
Your average customer is the composite of all your different customers. In other words, she’s an imaginary person who represents your customer base’s characteristics.
Dr. Neil Postman
New York University’s Dr. Neil Postman wrote this paraphrased piece on the existing biases relating to the questions we ask.
“We must keep in mind the story of the statistician. He drowned while trying to wade across a river with an average depth of four feet. That is to say; our culture reveres statistics.
And we can never be sure what nonsense will lodge in people’s heads. Even the most straightforward question, the question is not, and never can be unbiased.
The structure of any question is as devoid of neutrality as its content. The form of a question may ease our way or pose obstacles. Or, when even slightly altered, it may generate antithetical answers.
That was in the case of the two priests. Being unsure if it was permissible to smoke and pray simultaneously, they wrote to the Pope for a definitive answer.
One priest asked, ‘Is it permissible to smoke while praying?’ He was told it is not since prayer should focus one’s full attention.
The other priest asked if it was permissible to pray while smoking. And he was told that it is since it is always proper to pray.“
What Dr. Postman means is that the way we frame our questions will determine the answers we get. The message: be careful how you phrase your questions, because that will determine the outcome.
When it comes to marketing research, one of the most important questions you can ask is not, “Who is your customer“? Rather, it is, “who are your customers”? It may seem like a subtle difference, but the answer will be fundamentally different.
Depending on the response, it will lead to either more of the wrong customers or not enough customers in general.
Did you define your customer too narrowly? Then you may be missing out on potential customers who could benefit from your stuff. For example, you sell plumbing repairs to older homeowners. You miss out on younger buyers that live in apartments who will eventually own a home.
Did you define your customer too broadly? While this can become an issue with expensive digital marketing, it isn’t a thing with mass media marketing.
“I’ve never met a business owner whose advertising failed because they were reaching the wrong people.” — Roy H. Williams
The best thing you can do when you define your customer is to target them with brilliant copy. Start with universal truths speaking to their underlying felt needs, then narrow it down by speaking to their pain and pleasure points.
For example, if you sell lawn care products, a good starting point would be to market to all homeowners in your city. From there, you can narrow it down further. Target homeowners with your copy by speaking about how you save them money, energy, and time. Then speak to them about how their lawn will be admired by all, allowing them to win best lawn in the HOA annual content. Then tell them how you remove the shame of an unkempt lawn, and the guilt of an ever growing honey-do list.
The more specific you can be when defining your customer, the easier it will be to market to them.
Loftus & Palmer Experiment
In his 1999 book, “Essentials of Human Memory”, Dr. Alan Baddeley reports the Loftus & Palmer experiment. In the experiment, two groups watch two cars collide in a video.
Group one was asked, “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” The answers averaged 40.8 miles per hour (MPH), and the viewers also said they saw broken glass.
Group two was asked, “How fast were the cars going when they made contact?” The answers for this group averaged 31.8 MPH, and they did not remember the broken glass.
“Control the question, and you control the mental image it conjures.”
— Roy H. Williams
Fishing with a Hook vs. Fishing with a Net
“Proponents of hyper-targeting are quick to say, ‘You’re using the shotgun approach. I believe in putting the customer in the crosshairs of a rifle.’
But we’re not hunting just one customer, are we? Hyper-targeters believe in fishing with a hook. But for best results, I suggest you find a net.“
— Roy H. Williams
When putting together your marketing strategy, it’s important to consider who your customer is. It seems like a simple concept, but it’s one that often gets overcooked. If you don’t know who your customer is, you won’t be able to market to them effectively.
There are two main approaches to marketing: hyper-targeting and mass marketing. Hyper-targeting is when you focus on a particular group of people. You might target people based on age, gender, location, interests or other factors. The idea is by targeting a specific group, you’ll be able to reach them more efficiently with your marketing message.
On the other hand, mass marketing is trying to reach as many people as you’re able to with your message. It is done through advertising channels such as TV, radio, and billboards. Even if only a tiny percentage of people are interested in what you’re selling, it’s still far more efficient with the right frequency and message.
So which approach should you take?
The research tells us that 60% to 70% of your marketing should be focused on telling a compelling story to as many people as you can afford to reach at the right frequency. The remaining 30% to 40% should be spent on sales activation lead generation in the places the majority of your customers are looking for your services.
If you are looking for long-term growth and exponential profitable growth, stirring emotions and engaging them when they are not interested in your services is essential. The fundamental dynamics of emotion are built into our emotion, and hyper-targeting simply doesn’t reach the volume of people you need to grow your business.
The most important thing is to ensure you’re reaching out to your target customer in the most effective way possible. This means you need to get your frequency correct with a powerful message. By understanding who your customer is and tailoring your marketing approach accordingly, you’ll be well on your way to exponential success.
Target Customers According to Buying Motives
So, do you really want your business to grow?
Then don’t target age, education, income, or gender. This is the magic trick, the big reveal: Look at buying motives.
Stop asking, “Who is my customer“? Start asking, “Why does my customer buy my product? What do we do for them emotionally”?
You could flip a coin or take Roy’s advice: “I suggest you find a net.“
That’s the secret sauce to writing awesome ad copy for customers. That’s the question that lands the wide net you’ve been casting.
“A brand without trust is just a product.” — David Ogilvy
And products always become commoditized that are easily replaced.