Who are my customers and how do I reach them?

Why knowing who your customers are is important

It is important for any business to go though a process of determining the characteristics of current and most likely future customers. Knowing whom your marketing should appeal to is half the battle when it comes developing a successful campaign. Successful marketers take this knowledge and leverage it by focusing on customer segmentation and insights such as the 80/20 rule.

But first, you will need to be able to answer the following questions. By answering these, you will be able to both identify and unlock the potential of your customers. This will save you time and money in the long run. It’s about going slowly now to go quickly later. Learn your customers and you will be ahead of your competition in no time. Guess about your customers and you can make expensive mistakes.

  1. What type of customer do you want? (evangelists, loyalists, 1-offs etc)
  2. What amount of revenue do you want them to bring you?
  3. Who are they as people, what is the role your product plays in their life?
  4. How do you reach them – what channels are they using everyday?
  5. How do you acquire them – organically or paying for them?
  6. How much is it going to cost you to acquire them?
  7. What else is valuable to them?

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, the following characteristics should be considered:


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

Once you’ve typified the clients your business is most likely to attract, analyse the different types of buyers for your products and determine which are likely to be the most valuable to your business.

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

What Amount of Revenue Do You Want Them to Bring You?

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. Once you have a projection of the amount of revenue you expect to realise from a typical client, it makes it much easier to decide how much should go into attempting to acquire those clients.

To determine the amount of revenue required, analyse the expense involved in acquiring each client above and beyond overhead expenses. Once you have determined this number you can calculate the expected return on investment (ROI) for each customer after acquisition expenses. If the number is too low, you may need to rethink your marketing strategy or client acquisition methods.

Who are they as people, what is 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. Performing demographic analyses of your typical customers is valuable, but it also makes sense to perform qualitative, as well as quantitative, research into their characteristics.

In the age of social media, finding information about who your customers are and how they use your products is easier than it used to be. In addition to monitoring social media, you can use your website to solicit comments about your products and how people use them, either on your blog or via questionnaires. Some firms have had success with contests asking customers to describe how they use the company’s products with a prize or prizes awarded either randomly or based on some criteria supplied by the company.

Some of the customer persona profiles in relation to the role a product plays in the life of a customer are as follows:

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.

Two generational groups with different media consumption habits are the baby boomers and the millennials:

  • 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, it might be said, and thus campaigns which take elements from both traditional media and social media can have success with them.

How do you acquire them – organically or paying for them?

There are costs and benefits to acquiring customers either organically or by paying for them. While organic acquisition methods such as word of mouth, social media outreach and inbound marketing cost much less than paid methods, they also can take longer to bear fruit and can consume a great deal of your time, especially in the case of social media. Both methods can have their place in a marketing campaign. Some factors to consider when considering which approach to take for a campaign are as follows:

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, emphasizing organic outreach efforts is likely to be the best approach to take. 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 anticipated customer base consists of groups with a high tendency to communicate via online sources such as social media, acquiring customers via organic methods is likely to be easier. Millennials especially are likely to share good experiences with products or brands online. If you orient your outreach efforts to the social media platforms your customers are likely to frequent it can help spread the word about your products in an organic fashion and reduce the need to conduct paid advertising to get the word out about your products.

What else is valuable to them?

Consumers don’t always purchase products strictly on the basis of price or performance. While these are certainly the two most important considerations in buying decision-making, for the most part, other factors can and do apply at times. These include:

Brand appeal: Some brands have an appeal that transcends the strictly economic value of their products. For instance, while apple products such as the iPhone are certainly well made and highly functional, the price premium the company is able to charge for the products is not strictly due to these factors. It also represents the cachet of the brand and the perceived status that comes with owning the product. The value accorded to brand names varies by industry and product, so it makes sense to determine how important brands are to the consumer groups most likely to buy your product as you devise your marketing strategy.

Lifestyle appeal: Some products evoke or enable certain lifestyles. In these cases, the appeal of a particular product may be due to this factor as much as to price and features. Examples of this are products such as champagne or high-end watches. While taste and features respectively are not unimportant with these products, the ability to appeal to consumers aspiring to live a certain lifestyle enabled or represented by them is also an important component of their appeal.

Image (“trendiness” or “coolness”) factor: In the case of trendy products, purchase decisions often revolve around their “coolness” factor as much as their functionality. If your product appeals to this type of consumer, your marketing efforts should take this into account.