Thinking about your target audience, you need to first consider if there is a need for what you do. This will determine, not only your price but the place you have in the industry. Yet there is so much more to customer research than a lot of businesses admit to doing. In fact, it is believed that for every customer to obtain, you could be handing another 5 over to your nearest competitor simply because you haven’t done your customer homework thoroughly.
The key that separates your business from the biggest competitor is this: You MUST fully understand who your target market is, not the demographic of your ideal customers but their language, how they think, how they feel, their desires and wants, what their struggles are and their values.
Without a clearly defined specific understanding of your target audience, you will not be able to implement firm marketing strategies, objectives of your business or sales trajectory.
Clever target audience homework
You would have already acknowledged the opportunity of your business venture in the current market, if you had done your homework. The cleverest marketers will see opportunities and needs to a customer before they have understood there is a need themselves. Apple is an outstanding example of this. They foresaw a desire in the customer in terms of technology before the customer even realised they had one. All Apple had to do then was to create the product and present it to the world with the accompanying pitch.
Any successful business will have identified a clear gap in the market and the consistent necessity for their product or service. There’s no point creating a product that the consumer only wants for five minutes, on one single day in a year, if it’s your one and only product.
So, the first question you need to ask yourself (and it’s surprising how many businesses don’t do this) who is your ideal customer is, inside and out?
Where is the money being spent?
Any healthy business attitude seeks out competition automatically. Know who your competitors are in your industry and monitor their behaviour and that of their customers carefully.
Almost all businesses can be improved in one way or another. Therefore, take it upon yourself to find out the trick they’re missing and offer that to your customer base. – Michelle Hatcher
Many businesses believe that if they understand what gender, cultural background, demographic, age, social class and income their target market is, then that’s all they need to know. But clever customer research goes much deeper than that and it’s here, where the money truly is.
So, ask yourself about your competitor – what is bringing their customers to them and not to you? Who are your customers and what are the difference between yours and theirs? How much are the customers spending with you and your competitor?
Understand the differences clearly and you will be on your way to understanding consumer behaviour and how to win more custom.
‘Get’ your customer
Any good business, whether they are retail, a service provider, for customers or other businesses, who have done their homework on their target market will understand each customer inside out – how they feel, what their goals in life are, their values, what’s important to them, who they want to be, what they dream about, what they worry about, read and talk about to their friends. You must know as much as possible about their emotional pains and struggles and provide a solution for them.
Take for instance, Nike.
On the surface, they are just another big name in sportswear. You might argue that their target audience are people who like to keep fit, play sports and enjoy being healthy. Yet if this is all the customer research Nike ever did, they wouldn’t not be the multi-billion-pound retail outlet there are today.
Nike understands that their customers like to feel like world class athletes. They understand that the struggle of their target audience, their pains, what stands in their way from being brilliant at sports and keeping fit, who they admire, who they would like to be like and so on. They ‘get’ the desire, the hunger, if you like, of their target market. They understand the dreams their ideal customer has in being the best version of themselves as they possibly can.
What is very clever is that Nike’s brand and understanding of their market is that if you see someone wearing Nike gear, they are likely to be the type of person who we have described above. This is what I call mirror marketing. The customer becomes the marketing advocate reinforcing the brand through being a customer. One literally reflects the other, thus creating a mirror effect in psychological advertising for new custom (new customer thinks ‘I want to be like them…’) whilst making the wearer of the gear feel important and the best version of themselves.
Blanketing marketing will only ever get you so far if you want to build a successful marketing plan. This is when we simply market ‘at’ everyone in the hope that someone ‘bites’; the marketing bait. Even giants such as supermarket chains (and we all need food, don’t we?) Will have studied their target audience carefully, even though we all need food to survive so there is a definite desire for supermarkets! Notice how household products, clothes and non-consumable products in Sainsburys are very different to those in Asda. That’s because both companies understand their different target audience.
Customer research that is flexible keeps you in business
There are some things about your business that should never change – your branding is one of these aspects. The vision, mission and WHY factor of your business that makes up the company brand should remain clear and consistent. Your products and services, you will always update to match the demands of the customer, but what about your target market research? This should be reviewed frequently and monitored just as carefully just as regularly as your marketing and sales analytic reports.
Never assume because you know your market, you never have to review it ever again. The world and its inhabitants change almost daily, and your target market last year might not be the same this year. Always keep on top of your customer research. That way, your products and services will always stay fresh and you will stay on top of your game.
Michelle Hatcher is an award winning digital marketing and leadership consultant for 15 years with credits that include Surrey 2012 Team and the London Olympics. She is a member of the Association of Integrative Psychology in Seattle and lives in Wiltshire with her family and three cats.