July is here again. It is a month to review the performance of the first half of the year and, for drafting of plans to make the second half better than the previous one. You are probably considering tinkering with your marketing activities ; maybe re-allocate budget to some marketing channels that appeared to have performed better in the first half of the year than others. Or, experiment with some new marketing.
Okay, good. But you know what? you need more than that to succeed.
Well, we all know that the success of any medical treatment is dependent on the accurate diagnosis of the ailment and, as can be attested to by any good doctor, accurate diagnosis is largely dependent on the physician’s ability to ask the patient relevant and insightful questions. The patient’s answers and the findings from the follow up tests always form the basis for the doctor’s diagnosis.
Same principle applies to business. Your market success is entirely dependent on your ability to ask and get accurate answers to one important business questions. If answered with accuracy and in-depth understanding, this question can make a profound difference. So profound, it will change the fortunes of your organization.
The question is: Who are my customers today?
The implication of answering this question rightly or wrongly goes beyond what happens to your business this year alone, it determines the long-term health and relevance of your business. Answered correctly, it will accelerate your company’s ability to adapt and be relevant in the contemporary digital age.
Who Are My Customers Today?
This appears to be a simple question but, it is the most difficult question faced by marketing managers. The emphasis is on today.
To put this question in proper perspectives, let us dwell briefly about the whole essence of marketing;
The fundamental purpose of marketing is to enable organizations to plan and execute pricing, promotion, and distribution of products, services, and, ideas in order to create exchanges that satisfy both the organization and its customers.
The process of creating this exchange is what constitute the marketing function. Marketing managers attempt to stimulate the marketing process by following various decision criteria.
More specifically, they focus on getting the right goods and service:
(1) to the right people
(2) at the right place and time
(3) with the right price
(4) through the use of the right blend of of promotional techniques.
If you take a deeper look at the four mentioned marketing functions (also known as the four Ps), you will realized that they all depend on an accurate definition of who a business’s customers are.
The first one, to the right people is obvious enough. The other three, distribution channels, pricing and, promotional channels must all derive from a clear understanding of the customer.
You have probably made attempts to answer this question. You conduct periodic survey, product-preference test, focus group interview, or an advertising evaluation in a bid to gain insight into customer’s attitudes and buying behaviour. All of which might not be enough today.
What needs to change?
Tony Zambito puts it best when he said:
“The dilemma facing many CMOs is getting to know the customer and buyer of today and into the future. Knowing the customer and buyer of yesterday will no longer cut it. What needs to change is CMOs have to orient towards knowing the customer of today. As well, become adept at predicting who the customer of the future will be. Without this perspective, marketing strategy will be rooted in the past while customers and buyers continue to evolve. Significantly hampering an organization’s ability to grow.”
In other words, businesses of today and the future must adopt a new means of getting to know customers and buyers. This is the basis for designing an appropriate business/marketing strategy.
How to know your customers
So, how do you identify your customers? Incorporate these three steps into your planning:
1. Focus on the buyer of today and tomorrow:
Move beyond surveying and win/loss analysis and incorporate BUYER INSIGHT RESEARCH. This type of research is focused on today and building forecast into the future. It involves a commitment to objective and objective interviewing of current and prospective buyers.
2. Focus On Buying Scenarios, Not Solely On Buying Process
In addition to understanding the buying process of customers and buyers which helps you understand how they buy, you also need deeper insight and foresight to understand the why. This essentially means knowing the BUYERS STORIES. Knowing your BUYER STORIES helps you to move beyond the how and into the why.
3. Understand Buyers persona
Buyer personas are archetypal representations of your ideal customers that are developed based on real and fictional criteria. They encompass measurable data from demographics research and a fair amount of inferential assumption about needs, interests, motivations and personalities attributes.
There are two main functions of the persona: to provide context around the users represented by the persona and to create a sense of empathy for those users.
In the ideal world, we would be capable of understanding and being empathetic towards each and every potential customer. Since that’s impossible at the scale we work in, the idea is to group target customers together and give each group the qualities of an individual human.
So each persona you create will effectively “speak for” all users represented by it. Truly understanding your ideal customers– needs, values, challenges, etc allows you to create, market, and communicate based on how they prefer. This is one of the key elements to attracting the right customers and keeping them happy for years.
Following the recommended three steps above is sure to help you come up with the right answer to the most important business question of the day