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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

The Magic of 3: Taking a New Perspective

Like many successful entrepreneurs, I enjoy helping local associations with their marketing problems whenever I can. It seems that often simply offering a new perspective can be all that is needed to move things forward. 

Recently, I ran a re-positioning session for my local outdoor sports association and during it, I realised that many of the things we were doing together would also be of value to other organisations, big or small, who are in a similar situation.

For this reason I share some of the brainstorming we did, in the hope that it will inspire you to try something similar.

Background completeness defines the outcome

The president of the association asked for my advice because they were losing participation in their organised events. As a keen member myself, I offered to run a brainstorming session with his committee members, to see if together we could find some solutions. I started by gathering information from all the guides, which in itself was a challenge. As motivation was low, response rate was only around 25-30% and even then some of the responses were only general comments rather than specific responses to the questions asked. Things were even worse than I had anticipated!

However, this actually provided me with the “burning platform” that I presented to the president. If he didn’t address the issues immediately, I told him that his organisation wouldn’t exist 2-3 years from now! The low response rate to the study and the drop in event participation already confirmed this, but he hadn’t “wanted to see the facts”. This is where an external perspective can be invaluable.

Whenever you are faced with underst anding a situation, it is vital to start with a review of all relevant data and knowledge, and if incomplete, to complement it with an additional information gathering exercise. If you can’t precisely assess the current situation and identify all the relevant issues, your resultant brainstorming will be less effective than it could or should be.

Prioritising 3 areas only increases the level of success

It was clear from the answers I did receive that there were a number of related issues. The low participation of the organised events, was leading to the low motivation of the guides. The low awareness level and lack of visibility of the events, led to low participation in them. A vicious circle it was imperative to break. One positive sign however, was that past participants were very keen on attending future events, so it wasn’t the “product” that was at fault; people just didn’t know about them.

Another finding, that I often also see when addressing issues with my clients, is that the target audience for this association’s events, was ill-defined. Each guide had a different perspective of the people they were trying to attract. They were being defined as children, schools, companies, ladies 40-65 y.o. expatriates, those interested in history / geography, etc etc. As you can see, a wide variety of answers that wasn’t going to improve the overall cohesiveness of the association. When I dug deeper, I found that the differing topics of expertise of the guides meant that they each had in mind different target groups for their own offers. I suggested that a solution could be to group these into three major segments and to then attribute appropriate offers to each of them separately.

Three is a magic number with many uses. In this case, three segments were sufficient to offer diversity, whilst at the same time seeming achievable to attract rather than overwhelming. I also recommend choosing three areas to work on at a time and then breaking those down into sub-points, ideally three if you want to continue to work with the magic number. (If you are interested in the theory behind the power of three, then make a search online; there are innumerable examples of different uses given there, from various industries)

Choose impact over the ease of your actions

Once the three main areas have been identified, prioritise actions based upon the impact of each outcome. For example in their case, we reviewed ways to increase their visibility. Whilst their current website was quite useful, according to Alexa it was getting hardly any visits, so I suggested starting with other ways to improve visibility rather than updating it. Even if they improved their site, it would have little or no impact on the problem they were looking to address. It was an action that was certainly easy to do, and enjoyable to work on, but other actions would bring a better return for their efforts.

In line with my preference of working in threes, I will stop here and open up the discussion to you. Why not review why you may not be succeeding in your plans? Are you trying to do too much? Are you looking for the easy way out? Are your actions lacking the desired impact?

If you answered yes to any (or all) of these three questions, use the above example to rethink the problem through. Start by taking a step back and evaluating the situation from a new perspective. Ask a colleague or even someone outside the company to review the information you have on the issue and to give you their opinion. Sometimes that is all it takes to get to the real situation.

Then identify three areas to work on. Since this is often easier said than done, start by making a list of all the possible areas impacting the situation and then prioritise them. By choosing just three areas to concentrate on, it will enable you to better focus, which will in turn make them easier to achieve. And if you complete them and still have more time or budget resources, you can then tackle the next three on the list, and so on.

One last word on prioritising the areas on which to concentrate; if as was the case for this organisation, your target audience is not well defined, you are unlikely to succeed with your other priorities. Therefore reviewing and completing the definition of your target audience should always be the first area to review.

Finally identify the actions needed for each of the three areas to be addressed. Again, as in the above example, don’t jump on the first solution found. For instance, since the association with which I was working had a webmaster, it was easy for them to update their website. However, as mentioned, it would have had little impact on increasing the awareness of their events. We decided on a different set of actions to improve their communications and made updating the website a secondary action, once their rating on Alexa started to increase.

Are you struggling with issues that need an external perspective? Why not ask us to organise a 1-Day Catalyst session. We will get to the center of your issues and opportunities, and define actions with you that will provide the best return for your efforts. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!

For more information or to review other support options we can provide, just drop us a line at info@C3Centricity.com or check out our website: www.C3Centricity.com

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

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