Though it’s typically one of the first steps in establishing a new business, there are plenty of businesses out there that simply don’t have a fundamental understanding of their target market. While demographics are telling to a point, they don’t provide anything more than a structural context for data. To really understand your audience, you have to listen, observe, and engage them.
Why Demographics Aren’t Enough
One of the first data sets you might look at with regards to your market is demographics. Things like age, race, location, and employment status matter, but your customers are all different. No two customers are the same. Lumping your customers together by demographic can actually be counterproductive
Remember to take into consideration the diversity of your audience. When it comes to marketing messages, take your own emotions, experiences, and opinions out of the equation. Rather than tailor messages to appeal to a demographic subsect you think you understand, consider implementing personalized messages unique to each customer!
Your customers want to feel unique and valued, and grouping them together in faceless, nameless clumps won’t help you understand their motivations, needs, desires, goals, attitudes, and behaviors. To do that, you’ll need to look further than demographics.
Making Connections With Your Target Market
Brands with a superior customer experience bring in almost 6 times more revenue than their counterparts. But how do brands provide a superior customer experience? The answer is simple: they understand their customers.
To understand your customers, you need to connect and empathize with them. Focus on building and maintaining robust communication channels, including social media, blogs, and public forums. Try to make your customers as comfortable as possible to observe their behaviors and attitudes authentically. How do they respond to frustration? Are they more likely to purchase when they’re in a good mood? These kinds of observations can be telling because they can lead to valuable insights.
Don’t forget to appeal to emotion. According to a Harvard Business Review study, emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend your brand, three times more likely to repurchase, 44% less likely to defect to competitors, and 33% less price-sensitive. A significant part of the consumer purchasing process involves recognition of and desire to alter the way the consumer feels, so it’s imperative to market to their feelings.
You want your customers to feel empowered, confident, and enviable after they purchase from you. Look to reinforce those feelings with stellar customer service and optimal quality. Try to solve problems quickly in a customer-friendly way, and in all your interactions, do your best to leave the customer feeling like they found value.
Besides engaging your customers, consider building detailed customer personas. Try to include things like technology and social media use, fears, past experiences, tendencies, and lifestyles. The more complete picture you can paint of your customer, the more value you can provide.
Provide More Value
Regardless of who your target customer is, there’s a pretty good chance he or she wants more value. What does that mean? It means the more you can streamline your customer experience to save your customer time and money, the more positively said customer will think of your brand.
Things like a responsive website, fast/free shipping or pickup options, mobile optimization, and customer loyalty programs are all great ways to provide inherent value to your customers. However, as we know, price is arguably the most important factor customers consider as part of the buying process. Does that mean you should always strive to offer the lowest price?
Perhaps not. Let’s take a look at JC Penney to provide some insight. As part of its revamp in 2011, the company ditched its 590 annual promotions in favor of an “everyday low price” strategy. It backfired. Surely customers would jump at the opportunity to save money, right?
JC Penney’s core customers were bargain shoppers who took pride in hunting for the best deal and using coupons to do so. The company also failed to explain the new strategy to customers, and they were rightfully confused. The rebranding was abandoned after dismal sales numbers. What does this tell us?
Understanding the behaviors of your customers is far more important than guessing what might appeal to them. Humans are complex, multi-dimensional, sometimes unpredictable creatures. Rather than employ guesswork, rely on astute observations, data, and a fundamental understanding of demographics, psychographics, social technographics, as well as everything else that paints a complete picture of your target market.