How to REALLY Understand Your Customer

How to REALLY Understand Your Customer

This is the blog transcript of our video “How to REALLY Understand Your Customer”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

Are you frustrated by your messages to customers not producing sales?  Do you struggle to understand their motivation? Are you interested in understanding your customers but don’t know where to start?  Join us to look at how we can get to know our customers, learn about their motivation, and have engaging and meaningful conversations with them. 

Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.

Today, we will chat about how you can really understand your customers and potential customers. As digital marketing becomes more and more prevalent, you have to put time and effort into understanding what your customers want and tailoring their user experience to that.  The days of buying full-page ads in magazines tailored to your customers and hoping for the best are over.  We need to have two-sided conversations with our customers, meet them where they are online and feed them content they are hungry for.  Don’t worry; it only sounds daunting.  I have some great ideas to share here, so let’s get started.

Use syndicated research to gain a 360-degree view. (Market Research)

In a perfect world, we’d be able to speak to each and every customer individually and craft a sales journey that is unique to them.  Since few have resources for that, we do our best to learn about market segments and purchasing behavior.  One of the best ways to get ahold of this information is syndicated market research.  This type of research can be beneficial when you’re launching a new campaign or just wanting to learn more about your industry, your competition and where your brand fits into that.

First, let’s start with the most obvious question – what is syndicated research?

Syndicated research refers to independently conducted market research. This could be focus groups, quantitative analysis, surveys and more.  A market research firm conducts their study, and then you can buy access to this data. This type of data can’t drill down and tell you the brand of coffee Joe Smith buys, but it can tell you how a segment of the population similar to Joe Smith interacts with brands like yours.  

You can also hire a market research firm to collect some custom data, but this will be more expensive.  The good news is that you will then own that data, and your competitors won’t have access to any of it. 

Syndicated research is excellent for a 30,000-foot view for not much money.  You’ll be able to get a look at your industry and competition, and you might even get a sense of where your brand lives in that space.  Also, since you don’t have to fund the research, it can be cost-effective.

The bad news about syndicated research is that any one of your competitors can have the same data.  Also, you won’t really have a say in the methodology or how the data is collected. 

So, what could syndicated research tell you about your customers?  It can tell you where you are in their minds.  If you launched an extensive campaign and you find that few companies in your market have heard of you six months later, you know you still have some work to do.  If you’re going to start a conversation with your customers, you have to know where you’re starting from, and syndicated research can tell you that.

All in all, syndicated research is great.  I consider this a first step in learning about customers and a company’s brand.  This can provide you with brand insight and industry trends, but it can’t be the only way you get to know your audience because it is so general.  Let’s talk about some other methods.

Explore fundamental questions that shed light on customer needs and their purchase situation (Who, Why, What, When Where)?

Nothing is stopping you from collecting your own data too.  And probably the most obvious way to really get to know your customers is to ask and start collecting data firsthand.  You can develop an online survey or send an email asking for feedback.  Your C R M should be able to use this data, too.

Start with some fundamental questions about their needs:

  •         Do they know about your brand, product or service?
  •         How do they want to be communicated with?
  •         Where are they in the buying process?
  •         What pain points do they have?

There is no point in creating a survey if you don’t intend to use the data. Then be prepared to act on the answers you get. For example, if you ask how often someone wants to get your informative newsletter, you can now segment these customers into ‘weekly’ or ‘monthly’ lists. 

While you can continue to use the information you get in several ways, the most effective and efficient is to engage your C R M and start segmenting.

This brings me to our next point – you have to be prepared to respond. Mission Suite can automatically segment based on your customer’s replies, so you don’t have to do this manually.  If your monthly email guy keeps getting your weekly emails, he’ll realize you aren’t paying attention, and you could lose him. 

Speaking of all this beautiful data and your segments…

Identify important segments. (age, gender, education, income, occupation, and place of residence)

More profound questions can also drive your segments.  The more questions you ask, the more data you collect and the more you can target messages to parts of your list. If you have a segment of customers who identified as ‘ready to buy’ in the next six months, you now have a warmer list of buyers, and your messages to them should be more tailored to where they are in your sales funnel. 

There is so much to gain from collecting this information, but you have to have a strong C R M in place – like Mission Suite to be able to use it properly.

Think about your buyer and your ideal customer as you craft a survey to collect data. What are the unique attributes and the things you most need to know about your audience to be able to reach them? It could be as simple as age or income, but what about specific market segments do you want to know? Drill down on what you need to know, and then create your segments.

I have had a few people ask about segments. Some don’t know what characteristics will make the best segments, so let’s talk segments for a minute.

In 1956 a guy named Wendell Smith first coined the term “market segmentation,” and from that, the traditional five market segments were born.  I’m not nostalgic, but there is some good technique to learn here. 

Those five ways to segment your market are:

Demographic: this refers to basic info like age, industry, level of education, zip code, etc.

Psychographic: this data revolves around how customers perceive brands and products and how a product or service can ease a pain point. Understanding this can also help you know how best to communicate with a segment.

Behavioral: this is about where they are in your funnel and their own buying process.  Behavioral data can help you craft messages based on where they are and what their next move is likely to be. We’ll talk about motivation more in a bit, too.

Geographic: this one is pretty obvious. Using geography about where your customers live, work and travel can also help you craft messages.  For example, if you sell commercial insurance, you’re not going to push flood insurance in areas where floods are not expected.

The last segment is specifically for business-to-business marketing related to attributes you might share with another company. Firmographic segmentation will tell you more about what you have in common with another company versus another person.

I know, this probably seems like a lot, but it’s not. Segmenting isn’t hard, but it will take time and forethought. You have to start by understanding what you don’t know about your customers and move on from there. When you find that your messages and outreach are not landing, look to your segmentation first to help you best understand what you DON’T know.

Another piece of data I find really helpful is understanding a customer – or potential customer’s “why.”

Evaluate consumer motivation. (Where they are on the sales funnel)

Understanding your customer’s motivation is another critical factor in getting to know them and connecting with them in a meaningful way, and sending a specific message to a potential customer at the right time signals that you are paying attention to their needs. If you are cranking out messages to customers who are just not there yet, you’re wasting your time and likely irritating some of your audience.  I’ve seen many make this mistake and then blame the failure on the message when it is a lack of understanding that is working against you.

Here is where you really need some psychographic data to get the heart of your customer’s why.  Look at your data and put yourself in their shoes. 

In most cases, it is obvious why someone is buying your product or service. But in a competitive situation, understanding motivation can help you highlight features and benefits that put you ahead of your competition. 

And again, your well-timed and relevant message says you’re paying attention, not just selling selling selling.

The whole reason we collect data and segment to get to know our customers is to position ourselves in the best light and sell our product and service.

One further note about understanding motivation; when you spend time understanding motivation, you might also save time when a customer isn’t a good fit.  We spend a lot of time talking about getting the business, but understanding when a customer is not a great fit for you is just as valuable.

Do a competitive analysis. (who is the competitive set, and how do I take advantage of shortcomings)

Speaking of your competition, you should be getting to know them too.  Without question, your competition is getting to know you via competitive analysis.

Before you can understand your audience or even your segments, you have to understand your industry and your place in it. A competitive analysis will help you know your competition – where they outshine your company and where they might fall short.

To start your competitive analysis, figure out who is in your competitive set. This is not just companies who do what you do, but those in direct competition with you, companies that could be bidding on the same business you are.  For example, a local IT provider is not necessarily in direct competition with Amazon Web Services. Your competitive set is in your space and directly vying for the same business you are.

Next, you’ll have to do a little snooping around about those guys:

  •         what does their online footprint look like?
  •         What are their reviews saying?
  •         What are they offering that I’m not?
  •         What are they doing better than my company?
  •         What are they not doing that I do?

Basically, you’re doing some research to find out where you are alike and where you differ.  And then you can use this info to gain an advantage over them. For example, if they charge for an initial consultation, you could win business by offering a free hour of your time to new clients. 

If you can, you might even poll some former customers or business you lost to a competitor. This could give you some insight into where you can improve in the future.

As you can see, understanding your customers and clients is not a given; it takes a little work. But it is worth it as it can save you time and possibly give you an advantage in a competitive situation. And with the right tools, you can get it done.

I hope you got something out of this video. 

And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!

We’ll see you next time around!

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