Marketing is only effective if it is aimed at the right people. This means knowing your customers, both current and future.
The entrepreneur needs to know who they are dealing with. For this, they need to draw up the profile of their current customers and the profile of those customers they would like to win.
- Where are they? The entrepreneur must decide which geographical area will be covered by the products or services they want to sell. Will they confine themselves to a radius of 10 kilometers around their business? Or will they target the population of a whole town or even a whole canton? Or do they want to target the whole Swiss population? Or will they sell their products and services worldwide?
- Who are they? Most companies are aimed at a particular audience in terms of age, gender and income. Some go further still and target only families, young singles or retired people.
- What do they think? To optimize the effectiveness of your message, it is worth learning about the values, attitudes and beliefs of your customer base. If it wants to sell organic products to customers concerned about the environment and their health, a supermarket will not communicate in the same way as if it wanted to sell low cost products to customers looking for bargains.
Sometimes, the same company targets different types of customers at the same time. This means it has to adopt a multi-faceted marketing strategy. A restaurant that attracts business customers in a hurry at lunchtime, but families and tourists in the evening, will not be able to use the same promotion: at lunchtime, it will offer a fast quality daily special; in the evening, it will offer a children’s menu.
How to draw up a profile
There are several tools for detailing the profile of your customers, current or future. Getting to know the people who are faithful to the company – particularly big spenders – also helps form an Identikit picture of the type of customers you would like to attract in the future.
- Organize competitions or offer loyalty schemes which allow you to gather information about existing customers (names, addresses, ages, etc.).
- Conduct a survey (online, by phone or in person) among your customers to find out more about them. But make sure you assure them that all this information will not be passed on to a third party.
- You can learn a lot about your customers just by observing them. What types of cars do they drive? Do they visit the business on their own or in a group? How much time do they spend there?
- In a file, gather as much information as possible about contact made with the company (orders, phone calls or emails).
- Use tools like Google Analytics to find out who is visiting the company website.
- An SME has the advantage of being able to have direct contact with its customers. Use this opportunity to talk to them and get to know them.
- Visit businesses with a similar offering to yours to observe what types of customers they attract.
- Contact professional organizations in your field. Often, they have carried out detailed market analyses about the customers who consume the type of services they represent.
Their relationship with the company
It is worth taking an interest not only in the characteristics of your customers but also the ways they interact with the company. Are they more driven by a desire to make savings or to buy a prestigious quality product? Do they come back often or are they one-time buyers? Do they also frequent the competition? How did they find out about the company? This means determining the customer sub-groups offering the highest added value, that is, which generate the most sales. If you want to increase your customer base, you need to consider all of these factors.
Source: Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2012.