Your customers are your biggest assets; they love your brand, buy your products or services, recommend you to friends and family, give you rave reviews and are loyal to your business. It totally makes sense to have a customer-first mind-set and this is now firmly embedded in the culture of most big corporations. They recognise and understand that building the right customer relationships are crucial; it not only builds trust and loyalty, but also results in repeat business and recommendations. This is just as important, if not more so, with the small business. It’s not something that can be achieved overnight, but if you work on getting to know your customers like the back of your hand, your business will succeed.
You can’t successfully market your business if you don’t know who you’re targeting. Who is your ideal customer? What is their persona? Why would they want to buy your particular products or services? All these questions and more need to be answered so you know what your ideal customer looks like and what makes them tick. Then you will be better placed to target them with your marketing.
Identifying your target market is all about three things; Demographic, Geographics and Psychographics.
- What is their age and gender?
- Are they married or living together?
- Do they have children?
- What do they do for a living?
- If you know what they do for a living, what is their rough income?
- Do they own their own home?
You can usually gain demographic information from your existing customers by simply talking to them. Social media accounts can also give you relevant demographic information. If your customers are on Facebook, for example, you can usually see information like date of birth, relationship status – people seem to love to share about their lives on social media, so you will probably see if they have children or grandchildren, what they do for a living etc.
You could also get this information from feedback you get. For example, if you make and produce quality rag dolls, you may have feedback that says “Love your product, my daughter/grand-daughter loves her doll and hasn’t put it down since she received it.” This tells you that your customer is a Mum and Grandma and that she likes buying things for her grandchildren.
Knowing the demographics of your existing customers makes it easier to tailor your marketing accordingly.
If you’re really not sure who your target market it, go to Google and research some of your competitors, people who do the same as you, and look at their marketing techniques. Who are they targeting and how? What are the messages they are sending out? What images do they use? What media do they use to advertise? You will then have an idea of what direction you should be aiming for with your business.
This is the simplest – where do your target market live? Are they local to you? Just in a particular region? In the same country, but miles away – nationwide? Or international – in other countries?
Psychographics – why customers buy what they do
If demographics look at who your customers are, psychographics take you a bit further into their lives to find out why they buy the things they do. What motivates them and what makes them tick.
Psychographics include things like:
- Religious beliefs
- Spending habits
- Lifestyle choices
You might think this relates to hobbies, but it’s more than that. It’s more about what you’re interested in, rather than partake in. It’s probably the most telling feature on the list as ‘interests’ covers a wide range of things. Interests will include life experiences and are shaped by all sort of things, such as culture, upbringing and socioeconomic status.
- If you have a child, you will be interested in raising them. You will look on Google for ways to be a better parent, how to keep them amused, how to deal with certain problems etc. You will spend time during the day automatically learning how to be a good parent and thinking about being a good parent, as well as playing with and talking to your child.
- You may be interested in getting fit. You might want to change the way you look by losing weight, gaining weight, toning up muscles. This might have an impact on what you eat and drink, how you spend your time and where you go. You might go running, go to the gym, do a line dancing or salsa class!
- You might be interested in getting rich, so will be interested in how people get rich quick, in celebrities and their lifestyles. You might google ‘get rich quick’ schemes or business opportunities.
- You might simply be interested in going out with your friends and having a great time, drinking and eating in good restaurants, or just clubbing and getting drunk! This might spark an interest in fashion and accessories or fine wines and Michelin star restaurants.
One person’s interests will change over time. What you liked to do when you were a child are vastly different to your interests as a teenager and as an adult.
So, looking at this from a target market point of view, interests will not necessarily characterise your target market – you’ll want to look at a range of interests to suit each of your products or services.
Now then, activities is the section that could be described as hobbies. As part of psychographic research, you are going to want to know what activities or hobbies your target audience get involved in. You’ll get answers like reading, writing, going to the gym, fishing, taking part in a sport, computer games, playing a musical instrument, singing, painting…you get the picture. The list is endless, but the more information you can gather about your ideal customer or target market, the better you’ll understand them.
You also need to think about people who answer that they don’t have a hobby or many interests. How can you word the question so that you get some kind of answer? One way would be to say, ‘how do you spend your free time when you’re not working?’ Some people might be workaholics and actually spend all their time commuting to and from work and at work, so that when they’re home, it’s eat and sleep…yes, there are those that do that! But this still gives you an answer, and I bet that if they commute on public transport, they’ll be glued to their phone, so may see your ads or marketing. You can still target them.
Someone else might say that they spend their free time with their family – they may have children and they take up all their free time. It’s good to know that, again you can target parents.
Someone might be involved in their local community, run a Scout or Girl Guide group; they might be involved in church activities or council meetings. I’m sure you get the idea.
Each of these kinds of responses gives you a lot of information about your target market, or your ideal client.
This is pretty obvious – people may be reluctant to give these details, but if they say they attend services for example, you can always ask where and if they enjoy it. Are they an active member? Do they get involved in youth groups or teaching the youngsters about their religion?
OK, this is a pretty hard one and involves you drilling down further into the lives of your target audience. If you want to discover their attitude or opinion on something, you need to ask questions.
For example, if you sell beauty products, you could ask what they think about beauty products in general. You’ll probably get answers like ‘they must be cruelty free’ or ‘not contain palm oil’, or be vegan-friendly. They may ask if you do products for sensitive skin as they get eczema.
You’d need to think of questions that are related to your particular products or services. Let’s take another example, if you sell some kind of software, you might ask, ‘What do you think about the performance of Microsoft 10, compared to Microsoft 7 or 8?’
Obtaining attitudes to things around them, not just related to your business, gives you a much deeper insight. You could ask about their opinion on the government or wind turbines. Knowing someone’s opinion or attitude to the world around them helps you to know your audience better and know more about what makes them tick.
Asking questions will also give away details of your targeted market’s personality, their values, what they like to spend money on and their lifestyle choices.
However, psychographics are difficult to gain and take a huge amount of time, effort and research in order for you to gain all the information you need. This is one of the reasons why big companies have a marketing department, solely dedicated to finding out who the customers are and working out the right way to market their products to attract those customers. If you combine the data you collect on the demographic and psychographics of your customers, you can paint a picture of what your potential buyer (or your buyer persona) will look like and who they are. Let’s have a look at one example …
Let’s say you’ve done your research and this is what you have discovered…
- Female, aged 40 – 55
- Married with children
- Household income around £45,000
- Stay at home Mum who works part-time
- Interested in health and fitness
- Likes to be eco-friendly
- Is an active member on Facebook and Pinterest
- Likes socialising with her small group of friends
- Loves cooking
This demonstrates the difference between the two sets of data and why it’s important to gain both – you have more insight into what your customers might like. Then you can look at your products to see what would interest this kind of customer.
How do you make this relate to your business…and therefore your marketing? I’ll share some examples…
If you have a crafting business, for example, and your crafting activities were soap making or candle making, you’d know that this customer likes natural ingredients that are environmentally friendly and safe for children, so that could be part of your marketing angle.
If you are in the catering industry, making cakes or preserves, she might be interested in special birthday cakes for her family or in your preserves and pickles that use natural ingredients.
Her children are likely to have birthday parties and her friends are likely to have children of a similar age, so anything you make from a crafting perspective may be of interest – bunting for parties, toys, jewellery, etc. And as she enjoys socialising with her small group of friends, she may be interested in hosting an at-home party to buy your craft products.
Where to find her
Once you have this data, you’ll also know where to find her and this is very important. She may attend local fitness clubs or gyms; she may visit a local spa; she will enjoy lunches out at restaurants or bars with her group of friends. This is where you could leave your flyers and business cards.
Now you know what your customer looks like and what she’s interested in, you can tailor blogs to suit her, you can make products you know she’ll like, and you can find out if she has any particular problem that your products can solve.
Survey your existing customers
If you already have a raft of existing customers who buy from you regularly or even customers that have bought once or twice, hopefully you will have asked for their email address, so you can let them know when you launch new products or have any special offers etc. If you have emails of customers, send them a simple survey asking them some simple questions. You can gain both demographic and psychographic information this way, but you can also find out what products of yours they like, what they don’t like, what could be improved and what other products they’d like to see you supply.
Analyse the feedback you have from your customers
Do you have feedback from your customers? Do they recommend certain products? If they do, what reason do they give for the recommendation? It might be that the reason they give is a great tip on how to market that product.
If you have any negative feedback or complaints, don’t put them away and forget them or let them get you down.
You should look at negative feedback/complaints as an opportunity. What are they complaining about and why? Can that product be improved? Imagine being able to go back to a customer telling them that you took their complaint or feedback on board, looked at ways to improve the product and have come up with a new and better product. Then offer to let them have it at a reduced price.
This shows goodwill, shows you’ve listened to that customer, done something about it and then offered the improved version. They will feel valued as a customer, feel that they’ve contributed and will be much more likely to sing your praises and recommend you to their friends and family. You’ve just turned around a complaint into a compliment!
How do your customers like to buy their products?
These days, I would hazard a guess that most of your customers will want to look at products/services online before they buy. They have such a wide choice that it’s important you make yours stand out. People spend their commute to work, breaks, lunch hour, evenings and weekends online, usually browsing through social media sites or looking for something specific. If you are not on these platforms then your products/services will not be found.
Social Media is a great way to promote your products or services and to advertise what you do. But, you also have to bear in mind that not everyone is on social media. If your target market is in the older age bracket, they may prefer not to be on social media, so you will have to reach them another way.
Even though they don’t do social media, your target audience probably still uses the internet to search for things they want. You could set up an online shop on eBay, Spotify or Etsy.
A website is a crucial business tool – you can link it to your Social Media sites and vice versa. A website can help you reach a wider audience – it gives you a shop front that is open 24/7 – you can even sell when you are sleeping and you can sell to anyone in the world!
You can put more information about yourself and your business and products or services that you can on Social Media and, if you have an online shop, you can point your customers to that site. Whatever you choose to do, there is always a marketing technique to support it. If you have a website, you can also choose to add a blog, which could also be a fabulous tool to write about your individual products or services … just another way to get your name/business out there.
I know this has been a very long post, but I hope that it give you inspiration and fires you up to investigate your target market in more detail. Once you are armed with all the relevant information, and market your products or services to that audience, you stand a much better chance of making a sale or obtaining a new customer for your services.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, please like and follow me for more marketing information for small businesses. And if you have any comments, I’d be pleased to hear from you.
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