Advertising: Who Really Is Your Customer?


Advertising: Who Really Is Your Customer?

Who is really buying your product or service? What do you really know about your most loyal, most frequent customers? I’m not trying to insult anyone, but all too often business owners and marketing directors think their target is everyone on the planet over 18 and that is never the case. Age, gender, and geography, have always been the first three demographic questions any advertiser should be able to answer. But historically they only fill in part of the picture. CBS just released a study done by Neilsen Catalina Solutions (combining TV watching data with product purchase data) that said there was a very low correlation between age and gender demographics in media buying and purchase activity.

Take snack foods, for example. Only 3 of the many shows that attract “heavy snacking households” also show up on the list of top shows among viewers aged 18-49. In other words, know your market and go to them. Waste not market, want not market.

Here’s another way to look at it. A 35 year old woman in St Louis, MO could be a soccer mom or someone who doesn’t ever want to have children. She could be married, divorced, or a confirmed bachelorette. Employed full time, part time, or never worked a day in her life. From Spokane, Miami, or Mexico.

Every target customer is going to be an amalgamation of a number of traits. How your favorite customers think and act and what they value (their psychographics) dictates your media and/or creative strategy. If your 35-year-old target is a Hispanic mother of 3 caring her kids and for the generation before her, your creative strategy has to include an emphasis on the benefits to her family. That’s what she values. If she’s an African-American in a high paying position, with a college education, and no intention to settle down in the foreseeable future, she has a very different set of priorities, values, and goals.

Her psychographic characteristics have a huge impact on her buying decisions prior to and during the actual purchase of your product or service. No advertiser, online or offline, can target every human nuance of desire, need, or values let alone the millions of possible combinations. But via a variety of research techniques an advertiser can determine the leading characteristics of their most loyal and frequent customers and increase their ROI by targeting them more efficiently.

In order to test an idea, new packaging, a TV spot, a web banner, or a logo effective advertisers use everything from informal surveys sent to family, friends, and acquaintances to full-blown double-blind studies with 1000’s of carefully chosen respondents. What you do to get to know your customers depends as much on the size and diversity of your audience as on your research budget. But remember. Not knowing your customers before launching any kind of campaign is like investing in the stock market without knowing anything about the company in which you’re investing. It’s not a wise business practice.

One technique that’s worked for us is informal surveys distributed to a list built from Craig’s List respondents. We put a listing on CL asking for people to look at at an ad, logo, packaging concept, etc. and fill out a brief questionnaire. Lots of people are happy to do that for you for nothing or the chance to win something.

Knowing who your customer is and what makes them tick allows you to create a deeper bond and thereby be more valuable to them. That bond also helps you hold onto them longer in the face of changes in your business, their lives, and your competition. Best of all, a customer who knows you understand and care about their needs and has taken ownership of your brand is going to tell their family, friends, and acquaintances about you in a positive and passionate way.

Let us know if you want a better definition of who your customer is and how to engage them online and offline to feed your bottom line.

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