Are you targeting the right customers?

I mentioned last week about an MBA course at which I spoke recently. Apart from the active participation of everyone and the fun we all had, I remember it mostly for all the great questions that were asked.

One of these was about underst anding whether or not you are targeting the right customer. If you yourself have ever wondered about this, then this post is for you.

Besides the work I do with CPG / FMCG companies globally, I also support local small businesses with their marketing, mostly “pro bono work” when my time permits. I enjoy doing this as it allows me to put into practice what I have learnt over the years working for some of the best marketing companies around, such as Gillette, Philip Morris International and Nestlé. It also enables these businesses, which wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to hire a global expert, to benefit from my experience and also hear about all the latest best practices.

When I meet them, I try to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible, so as not to scare them with too many new ideas and processes, but I am finding that my approach works well in larger organisations too. That’s why I thought I would share it with you here.

These are the four questions that I ask them all, big or small, to assess whether or not they are targeting correctly:

Who are you targeting?

This is often the first question I ask, as it helps me to quickly assess their level of customer centricity. If I get, as I did recently from the owner of a chain of hairdressing salons – all men, women and children! – then I know we will need to work together to better develop their target’s description before going any further in optimising their marketing efforts.

If you don’t already do so, then I would suggest you look to describe your target audience(s) in terms of not only demographics, but also add descriptions of their behaviours, values and motivations, as the diagram above shows. The deeper you go in completing their description, the more you will underst and them and therefore will have a better chance to not only meet but even surpass their expectations.

What’s their personality?

People use products and services that fit their personality in general, either because they match their own, or because they complete who they are or would like to be, by bringing elements that they feel they lack.

For instance, Marlboro cigarettes may be seen as having a strong, independent personality and so might be chosen by young adult men looking to show their independance from their parents.

Do you know what the personality of your own br and is and whether it is matching or completing that of your target audience?

What do they think of you?

Once you know to whom you are trying to appeal with your product or service, then you need to underst and what they currently think of you. Most organisations run some sort of br and image study, and get equity measures on a number of attributes.

However, I often find that companies are only measuring what they are trying to communicate or even worse, what is important to them and not what is important to their customers.

Are you getting your customers’ opinions on things that matter to them? For example, rather than asking if your customers think your price is “high” or “low”, why not ask for an evaluation of it, such as “it is worth paying more for”, or why not even “makes me feel worth more”?

Since br and equity is best measured in comparison to other br ands, it is important to ensure that all attributes that might be valid for the category or segment are included in your list.

What benefits do they see?

Do you know what benefits your target sees in your product or service offering? Not what you see, but what they themselves appreciate. As is the case with image, you need to know your audience’s opinion and how close it is to what you intended it to be. Are there any additional benefits that your users have identified that you were unaware of and could use to your advantage in future communications?

I remember discovering many years ago that dried soup mix was often being used as a cooking ingredient, as it provided a richer flavour than sauce mixes or stock cubes alone. It is only by underst anding how your offering fits into your customers’ daily lives, that you can appreciate its true value to them.

If you can honestly answer these four questions completely and accurately, then you are almost certainly targeting the right customers for your product or service. If not, then I suggest you spend a little more time with your customers externally and the Market Research and Insight people internally, to learn as much as you can.

Why not take a critical look at your own target audience description? How deep is your underst anding of them? Could you do better?

For more on targeting go to our website here: and/

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