April 2013 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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12 Things you Need to Know about your Target Customers

How well do you know your target customers? I mean really know them? Are they men, women, young, old, Fortune 100 companies, local businesses?

If you can at least answer that, then you have the basics, but how much more could you know about them? Can you answer the following twelve questions?

I was recently working with a local service company who was looking for help with their online presence. They were keen to get more active on social media and had asked for advice about the best platforms, optimal frequency of publishing and possible content ideas.

However they were in for a surprise. Rather than getting straight onto the “sexy” topic of social media, I started by taking them through the basics of target customer identification. Lucky for them that I did! When we had finished the exercise, we had actually found five different targets for them to address, rather than just the two they had been addressing until now. This clearly would have an impact on both where, what and how they communicated online.

Customer persona template
Click image to download the template

These are the twelve questions that enabled us to brainstorm, identify and then complete a better and more complete description of their target customers. Their use also resulted in clear differentiated segments for their services – three more than they had originally thought! How would you like to double your own market potential? Read on:

  1. WHO DEMOGRAPHICS: OK this is usually a “no-brainer” and is how most organisations describe their customers. Not really original and definitely not competitive, but still the essential foundation.
  2. WHAT THEY USE: Whether you are offering a product or service, you need to know what your customers are using today. And not only for your category, but in adjacent categories too. What do they use – if anything – if your product / category is not available?
  3. WHAT THEY CONSUME: Here we need to underst and what types of information and media they are consuming; what do they read, watch, listen to in their spare time. Which social media do they use, what websites do they consult on a regular basis?
  4. WHAT THEY DO: How do your customers spend their time? What type of lifestyle do they have? What are their hobbies? What do they do all day, and in the evening and at weekends?
  5. WHAT THEY BUY: This is where you describe their current category purchasing habits. How frequently and what quantity do they buy? Do they have regular buying habits? Do they do research before buying or repurchasing? Do they compare and if so how, where, why?
  6. WHERE THEY CONSUME: Is the category consumed in home, in work, on vacation? With friends, with their partner, with friends? Are there certain surroundings more conducive to consumption? What makes it so?
  7. WHERE THEY BUY: Do your target customers have certain places and times they buy? Is it an habitual or impulse purchase? Is it seasonal?
  8. WHERE THEY READ: Today “read” covers not just traditional media but new media as well. From where do they get information about products? From manufacturers, friends, family, colleagues? Do they access it online, in print, on radio or TV, at home or on the road? What websites and people do they follow, listen to and value the opinion of? What interests do they have in general and concerning the category?
  9. WHERE THEY SEE: One reason to target a specific group of customers is so that you can better communicate with them. Where are they most likely to be open to your messages, what media, what times, which days?
  10.  WHY VALUES: What values do your customers have that you are meeting with your product or service, and explain why they are using it? Do they have other values that are not currently addressed, either by you or your competitors? Do these values offer the possibility of a differentiated communications platform or product / service concept?
  11.  WHY EMOTIONS: What is the emotional state of your customers when they are considering a purchase or use, both of the category and the br and? Clearly identified emotions enable you to more easily resonate with your customers through empathising with their current situation. You are more likely to propose a solution that will satisfy their need or desire when their emotional state is precisely identified.
  12.  WHY MOTIVATIONS: What motivates the customer to consider, buy and use their category and br and choice? Emotions and motivations are closely linked both to each other and to the customer’s need state. By identifying the need-state you want to address, you will  be better able to underst and your customers and increase the resonance of your communications.

If you can answer all twelve of these questions in detail, then you certainly know your customers intimately. But before you sit back and relax on your laurels, remember that people are constantly changing and what satisfies them today, is unlikely to satisfy them tomorrow. Therefore you need to keep a track on all four layers of your customer description to stay ahead of competition, as well as to satisfy and hopefully delight your customers.

As mentioned above, by answering and completing a detailed description of the target audience for my client, we were able to identify a couple of new segments that their services could address. Although their demographics were similar, their emotional and need states were quite different. This gave us the opportunity to respond with slightly different service offers for each group. 

If you would like to try out this exercise for yourself, we have some useful templates that we can send you, to make it easier and a lot more fun; just drop us a line and ask for them.

For more information on better identifying and underst anding target customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

10 Inspiring Quotes on Underst anding & Insight

Last December I shared 13 of my favourite marketing quotes; if you missed it you can read it HERE. The post received the most reads and likes of any I have published, ahead even of the list of my preferred Infographs (see HERE).

It seems we all love great quotes to inspire our thinking and motivate our actions. For this reason, I thought that as we have been discussing insight development for the last month, I would share my favourite quotes on the topic with you.

Quotes are a great way to start or end a marketing presentation and to bring home an important point to your audience. As before, I have added some actions inspired by each quote that you might want to take. Enjoy!

#1. “There is a great difference between knowing and underst anding: you can know a lot about something and not really underst and it” Charles F. Kettering (American inventor)

ACTION: This gets to the essential point of why we often struggle to get to insight. Take the time to make this important step from knowledge to underst anding, before rushing into insight development.

#2. “Remember your past mistakes just long enough to profit by them” Dan Mckinnon (Author)

ACTION: In fact this could apply as much to successes as to failures. We really should start all attempts at underst anding our customers, the market or a situation, by reviewing what knowledge is already available. This will ensure we don’t run unnecessary research and analysis.

#3. “Their lives are a lot different from ours. We want to gain an underst anding of their daily lives” Ram Kolluri (Author)

ACTION: In most businesses, although we may be using our company’s products and services, we are generally not an “average” customer. Therefore don’t consider whether YOU like something or not, but rather whether your customers will.

#4. “If you underst and everything, you must be misinformed” Japenese Proverb

ACTION: A nice reminder that we will never know everything, however long we work. In today’s rapidly changing environment, what we know about our customers is almost always out-of-date. Continuous monitoring, made easier today by social media, is an essential part of customer underst anding.

#5. “If you want to underst and today, you have to search yesterday” Pearl Buck (Nobel & Pulitzer Prize fiction writer)

ACTION: It is essential to be forward thinking in order to be prepared for future risks and opportunities. When market share or br and equity decline it is (almost) too late. Scenario planning is a great way to stay ahead of the curve, and makes trend following more competitive.

#6. “There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German poet)

ACTION: And the reverse is also true: insight without activity is just as worthless. Often we want to rush into action before really underst anding a situation and taking the time to analyse, underst and and develop a true actionable insight. If we do take the time, then the insight is deep and the actions to take clearly identifiable.

#7. “Testing leads to failure, and failure leads to underst anding” Burt Rutan (American Scientist)

ACTION: In today’s social world, we are all learning how to engage with the customer. It is therefore important to test and learn – repeatedly. If failure is accepted in a company, we are more likely to take (calculated) risks and sometimes to fail. However if we learn and benefit from them then we are stilladvancing. As another famous quote from John Maxwell says “If you‘re not failingyou‘re probably not really moving forward”.

#8. “The purpose of computing is insight not numbers” R.W. Hamming (American mathematician)

ACTION: How often do you complete an analysis and stop at the numbers? Market research and data are only of use if they are converted into knowledge and underst anding, and then integrated to develop insight. Review how often you stop at the numbers alone and make it a habit to go those few steps further every time.

#9. “You never really underst and a person until you consider things from his point of view” Harper Lee (American Author)

ACTION: This quote covers one of the basic foundations of customer centricity. Unless you can take your customers’ perspective, you will never really underst and the issue or opportunity. Get out from behind your desk and talk to your customers as frequently as possible.

#10. “Underst anding human needs is half the job of meeting them” Adlai E Jr Stevenson (American Politician)

ACTION: Have you identified the human need your br and is addressing? If not, then you are missing a valuable key to success and growth. Take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and think about the level your customers are on when using your br and or category. Then think about the way you communicate the benefits of your br and; do they correlate?

These are my ten favourite quotes on insight at the moment. Do you have others you would like to share? I would love to add them to the quotes section of the C3Centricity website. Our stock of inspiring quotes is constantly growing so why not check it out whenever you need a great start to a presentation or report? 

For more information on insight development, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

Don’t forget to download your FREE cheat-sheet: ” 10 Reasons NOT to Conduct Market Research

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Getting to Actionable Insight

Last week I shared the first three essential steps to improved insight development, which covered setting the objectives, forming the team and reviewing the available information and knowledge. If you missed it or would like to re-read it before continuing then please go HERE.

This week I will complete the process with the remaining three steps and also provide you with some tips on actioning your insight once developed. After all, if you don’t take action nothing will change for your product, br and or service.

#1. Walk in your customers’ shoes

I am always disappointed how social media has encouraged marketers to stay behind their desks instead of getting out and meeting their customers. They just don’t seem to be going out and getting in touch with them as much as they used to. Is that the case in your organisation? Although you can certainly learn a lot about your customers’ opinions and even needs online, it is only when you take their place that you get the chance to really get their perspective.

Walking in your customers’ shoes can be done in numerous ways and will depend upon the issue or opportunity you have identified, as well as the underst anding you have gained from reviewing all the information you have. You could for instance:

  • Go out shopping with a fixed budget and purchase items for an evening meal of your target customer (a couple of mother of three kids). This may help you underst and why your target customers are buying the competition.
  • Compare competitive offers online for a new service you would like to propose. Is your website as user-friendly as your competitors’? Have you thought of all the important elements you need to include?
  • Call up a number of competitive manufacturers of the same product that you offer and ask questions about its uses, reliability etc. Do your own staff provide the same information? Are they as knowledgeable, credible, empathetic?
  • Role play your target customer in using your product and identify opportunities to improve for instance its packaging. If your product is used by mothers of toddlers, is it easy to open with a baby in your other arm? If your product is used in certain dem anding surroundings, such as outdoor, in the car, in the country, at night, is it easy to open and consume?

Whilst walking in your customers’ shoes, you should be extremely sensitive to any pain points in considering, evaluating, shopping and using your product or service. If you are looking to define a completely new offer, then it is the pain points of your competitors’ offers that you are looking to identify. Taking your customers perspective, rather than just observing them, can provide a wealth of information you might not get in any other way.

#2. Fill the gaps

Having done a complete review of all the available information and knowledge about your customer, including walking in their shoes, it is important to turn it all into underst anding. This also enables you to identify any information gaps there may be. These must be filled before you develop your insight, otherwise you will be working with a less than complete underst anding of the situation. The gaps can be filled by running some market research or by gathering the required information from other available sources, either internally or externally.

Before continuing with insight development, these new findings need to be summarised and integrated into the knowledge and information already reviewed. If the objectives of the project have been well defined, this is relatively easy to do.

#3. Develop the insight

You have probably never had the amount of underst anding of your customer as you do at this stage, at least in relation to the identified issue or opportunity. Insight development needs a review of all of this in the multi-disciplinary team, which can take anything from a few hours to several days. Don’t hurry this process, as too often we are too keen to get to the action and accept less than a true insights.

You will know when you are there; it is when you can summarise it in one (or maximum two) sentences phrased as it were being spoken by your customer. Often, when it is read out, it creates what is known as an “ah-ha” moment, when everyone agrees that it is just so obvious you wonder why no-one ever thought of it before! I am sure you will agree with me that it is a wonderfully rewarding feeling when you get there.

Together with last week’s first three steps, these are the six basic steps to building an insight. Of course the most important step of all is still to come, that of actioning the insight you have developed. This is where the multi-disciplinary team comes into its own. As all the team have agreed on the objectives and the insight, it is extremely easy for them to define the next steps that are needed to be taken. It also means that all areas of the organisation will work together to take the appropriate actions, rather than just the marketing department which can otherwise be the case.

From my experience actioning insights only creates problems if not enough time was spent at the beginning of the whole process, in underst anding the behavioural or attitudinal change that you are looking to encourage when defining the objectives. If you have trouble with this part of the process, then I would suggest reviewing the completeness of your defined objectives.

What areas of insight development do you find the most challenging? Do you have any questions about developing or improving your own insight development process? If so, then please add a comment or question in the box below. I would be happy to answer them for you.

For more information on insight development, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

Are you into Insights or Information?

A few weeks ago I shared some ideas on developing insights. (You can read the post here) It certainly struck a chord with a vast number of you, judging from the comments and acknowledgements many of you sent in. I really appreciated them all so thanks a million.

This week I thought I would take insights development even further, by proposing some steps to take for those of you who are still struggling, or would like to upgrade your own process. Often we stop at the information or knowledge stage and thus never get to real insights. This is such a disappointment, after all the hard work of data gathering and integration.

In January Forrester wrote an article suggesting that 2013 was going to be the year for market insights. A couple of months on, things don’t seem to have advanced much, so hopefully this post will enable your own organisation to advance and to get ahead of the competition.

#1. Be precise in your objectives

As mentioned in the previous article, your objective for developing an insight should be presented as a desired behavioural change in your target audience. For example, if you are looking to increase your market share, you could be looking to:

  • Find a way to convince competitive br and purchasers to buy your br and instead

If you are looking to improve your image, your objective could be:

  • Find a communication platform that resonates better with your target audience, so they consider your br and in a new light

If you are looking to reverse a sales decline, it might be:

  • Underst and how to move your shoppers from monthly to weekly purchasing

Identifying the behavioural change you are looking to encourage is the first step to uncovering a true insight.

#2. Involve a wide range of experts

Insights are not the sole responsibility of the Market Research & Insight Department. Everyone in the company can bring valuable information and underst anding to the identified opportunity. Therefore, involving people with a wide range of perspectives can make insight development both easier and more effective. Gathering together a group of experts to provide a 360 perspective of the category or br and users could mean including:

  • R&D, who can bring underst anding of available internal & external technical skills
  • Operations can share current defects and development aspects
  • Sales can add retail perspectives, including distribution, packaging and shelving limitations or opportunities
  • Marketing will provide the communications, image, equity and competitive environment
  • Customer services can add current customer sensitivities, problems or suggestions
  • Finance can highlight any budgetary limitations and ensure financial goals are met

The group you bring together will be a function of the behavioural change you are looking to make. However I personally believe that the exercise should be run by your market research and insights team or external experts, since it is their profession to underst and people and behaviour. They also will have the widest and most detailed perspective of anyone in the company

#3. Review all available information & knowledge

All organisations have far more information than anyone realises, even your market research, insight, strategy or planning teams. This also emphasises the need for having a team with differing expertise since they will also bring different information sources to light.

Once the team has been formed and the objectives for the insight development exercise have been agreed, it is time to organise a complete review of all the available information and knowledge. This analysis can be shared amongst all members of the team. They should look for recurring themes, expressions and words across the different information sources that might provide indications of the issues or opportunities around the identified objective.

As everyone completes the review of the information, a number of working sessions can help to share the information already found and start the process of getting closer to an insight. The actual insight development exercise will take place in another meeting once all available information has been assessed and any information gaps filled.

These are the first three steps towards great insight development. In future articles I will complete the process with the remaining steps. Do you use these same steps when developing insights or do you have a different process? If you do, I would love to hear what you do differently.

For more information about insight development, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

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