Who Are My Customers and How Do I Reach Them?

Successful businesses really understand their customers. Knowing your target audience is half the battle when it comes developing a successful campaign. And when you understand the specific characteristics and needs of your customer base, you can deliver your solution at the right price, in the right place and in their language.

Learn more about your customers and you will be ahead of your competition in no time. This will save you time and money in the long run. It’s about going slowly now to go quickly later. By answering the following questions, you will be able to both identify and unlock the potential of your customers.

What type of customer do you want?

The type of customer you want for your business depends to a great degree on the type of business you are running and the industry it operates in. For example, a business selling products with a high price point obviously needs to appeal to customers with above average incomes. A mass-market retail business, on the other hand, appeals to a different set of customers. To determine the type of customer you want for your business, first analyse the industry you operate in and the characteristics of the typical buyers of products like those your company sells.

In doing so, consider the following characteristics:

Their demographics:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Ethnicity
  • Income levels
  • Geographic location

Once you’ve typified the customers you want to attract, now analyse the different buying behaviours and determine which are likely to be the most valuable to your business.

  • One-off buyers
  • Semi Frequent buyers
  • Frequent buyers

Do some customers deliver more value to you business than others? In 1906 Vilfredo Pareto came up with the ‘80/20’ rule. The rule suggests that the rule that the top 20% of your customers represent 80% or your revenue. These are likely to be the customer base you will want to focus on.

What revenue do you want them to bring?

Projecting revenue from your ideal customer helps stress test your business plan. After all, marketing is not free, as a rule it requires both time and money.

Do you know how much revenue each customer brings to your business? This makes it much easier to decide how much you should spend in acquiring those clients.

To work out your ROI, look at the costs involved in acquiring each client above and beyond overhead expenses. You may be spending too much or perhaps it will show you that you can justify an increase in your marketing budget.

Understanding your customer and the role your product plays in their lives

Marketing is easier when you have a good understanding of exactly who your customers are and how your product meets their needs. Understanding the demographics for your typical customers is valuable, but it also makes sense to perform qualitative, as well as quantitative research into their characteristics. There are a number of ways you can do this:

Understand Your Current Customers – Look at the clients and customers that are most valuable to you. Are there common characteristics?

Use Surveys and Questionnaires – ask for feedback on how customers use your product or what benefits they look for and value

Look at Comments or Frequently Asked Questions – Are there are common issues that you resolve for them?

Use Social Media – The interactive nature of social media gives you the ability to engage with people and build a picture of your customers.

Understanding the role your product plays in their life is important too. And this may change with time. You could segment you customers based on this:

Casual customer: These buyers use a product occasionally, but it doesn’t play a major role in their lives nor do they give much thought to its purchase.

Motivated customer: Buyers of this type are highly motivated to consume your product and consider it a significant factor in their lives. As a result, they will often do extensive research into a product before making a purchase.

Lifestyle-focused customer: These customers associate your product with the lifestyle they lead or would like to lead. Product and brand image are very important to customers of this type.

How do you reach them – What channels are they using every day?

Knowing your customers’ traits and characteristics is useful when it comes to devising a marketing campaign to reach them. Different demographic groups tend to favour different types of media, so detailed knowledge of your customer base will help you in devising a marketing campaign to reach them.

Generational groups have different media consumption habits. For example:

  • Baby boomers: This group tends to consume traditional media sources such as TV, radio and printed material such as newspapers and magazines for news and information. While some use social media, it isn’t typically their primary media source as it is for many millennials. As a result, a campaign to reach this group may not be as social media focused as one targeted at a younger age group. Traditional media marketing sources should be considered as well as less interactive online marketing approaches such as email marketing, which can reach this audience at a lower cost than using traditional media.
  • Millenials: As a group, millennials are much more likely to use various forms of social media as their main source of media consumption. Some of this group has even “cut the cord,” giving up on the use of traditional media and only consuming media deliver online. This group can be reached via a social media heavy marketing campaign that uses little if any traditional media sources.
  • Generation X: This group, falls between the baby boomers and the millennials both chronologically and in terms of their media consumption habits. They keep a foot in both camps, so your campaigns with elements from both traditional media and social media can have success with them.

How do you acquire them as customers?

Your customers may reach you in a number of ways. Organic acquisition includes cost effective ways to convert strangers into customers. It might be via word of mouth, social media outreach or inbound marketing techniques such as an engaging blog post that attracts attention and positions you favourably when they are ready to buy.

Organic acquisition techniques are an essential element of your marketing. The people that you are targeting find you through your blogs, search engines and social media. This means they are ‘qualified’ and the work you do on your messages and content helps to build credibility and trust.  The flip side is that and while these techniques are ‘unpaid’ they can consume time and take longer to bear fruit.

Your marketing goals will determine what approach you take for campaigns.

Consider the following factors:

Campaign timetable: If your campaign is designed to achieve rapid results paying for leads may be the most effective approach. Organic methods such as content marketing, building an email mailing list and social media outreach can provide powerful results over time, but these methods typically take months or even years to have a significant impact. As a result, for quick results either using paid marketing efforts such as search engine marketing (SEM), purchasing email mailing lists or traditional advertising efforts via TV, print ads or radio alone or in combination with organic efforts is likely to be the most effective approach.

Campaign budget: If your marketing budget is limited, organic outreach efforts is a great option and should form the backbone of your marketing activity. Doing so allows you to use paid marketing efforts strategically where they are most needed while still pursuing organic efforts on a continuous basis.

Relevant audience: If your customer base is already communicating via social media, your organic methods will reach more of them. Millennials especially are likely to share good experiences with products or brands online and the word of mouth is amplified when it’s shared and liked. Find the platforms that are best suited to your audience to  spread the word about your products.

Knowing and understanding your customers is key to successful business and can give you a profitable advantage. You can tailor your product or service to their needs, be more persuasive in your marketing and also create a more positive buying experience. Take some time to understand your valued clients and you'll be more likely to succeed in attracting more.