By Sue Brady
Knowing your target is critical to your success. Once you know what your typical customer looks like, it’s much easier to find others who look just the same. Especially if you are selling as a business (B2B), it’s important to remember that your product is bought by a person, not a business. You will be more successful selling if you can identify commonalities among your buyers.
Step 1: Analyze your current customer file to tease out the demographics.
If you sell directly to the consumer (BtoC), you need to know, at a minimum, three basic things:
It’s also helpful to know education level, where they live, occupation and/or employment status, ethnicity, children in the home, and marital status.
If you are selling B2B, gender and age of the buyer is still important, but add to that:
- Job title
- SAIC code (business classification code)
- Company size (employees and revenue).
This analytical exercise will help you paint a picture of your target and make it easier to find ‘similar’ buyers. You’ll be able to better target both your online and offline marketing.
Step 2: Determine behavioral characteristics of your buyers.
To figure this out, again turn to your current customer file. This is easier (IMHO) if you are targeting customers directly, but also has a B2B application.
In the case of B2C it’s important to know what your customers like to do. Do they tend to be outdoorsy, are they car fanatics, do they love to cook? Knowing this information will make your customers easier to find. If they like to cook, try running ads on recipe sites, if they like to hike, look for them on hiking trail sites. You get the idea.
There are a number of ways to figure out what your customers like to do:
Look at the Twitter feeds of some of your most active buyers. Do some analysis to see what they are tweeting about. Visit the links they share. See if you can determine any patterns. You might find that a portion of your buyers spend time doing research on cars. Perfect! Now you know where to target some advertising.
Analyze your Facebook posts to see which ones resonate more with your followers. Do you get a lot of engagement when you post about your company’s charitable activities? If so, think about how you can use that in your marketing.
Analyze how much time your website visitors spend reading various content. Especially in B2B, if your visitors tend to gravitate towards particular topics, you can continue writing about those, you can reach out to influencers in your field to see if you can publish on their blogs or you can figure out appropriate conferences and see if you can speak on that topic. The goal is to establish yourself as an industry expert on a topic that’s important to your buyers.
Step 3. Do some research.
For both B2C and B2B, survey research can yield dividends. There are many tools available that enable surveys (paid and free!). Don’t be afraid to reach out to past buyers to ask questions. SurveyMonkey is an easy to use tool that has a free and paid version. You can survey without revealing who you are, or as your brand. You can run a survey on your website, or rent a list of folks who have opted in to take online surveys. Do your research to come up with a list you know is ‘opted-in.’ Be sure to consider survey bias with online surveys. You might find that there are different behaviors with people who have opted in to take an online survey vs those who haven’t (they might be younger, older or have other characteristics unique to the group). Always ask demographic questions (age, gender, income, etc.) in your surveys and use those answers in aggregate to see if they look similar to your customer base.
Once you survey your customers, you can ‘cut’ the data in a number of ways to see where nuggets of information might exist. For instance, you may discover that one product feature is more important to your male buyers, and another to your female buyers. Or that your older buyers tend to buy your product for others, or that your tech savvy customers spend more.
Do some research on your competitors’ customers too. Why are they buying from him instead of from you? This type of research will take more time than surveying your existing base because it may be harder to get a statistically significant sample size, but is a great way to gain insight into why your competitor sometimes wins out. For instance, if you sell Internet service, you can ask questions like: What Internet service do you use? What is the most important feature your Internet service delivers? Do you know the speed of your Internet service? There are a few options for these types of surveys. You can hire a survey company to find appropriate email lists that might include both your customers and your competitors’ customers, or try to find lists yourself. The information gathered can be enlightening!
This is the 2nd in a 3-part series. Original post is here.