Knowing what makes your customers tick will help you make marketing decisions, from pricing, distribution, and choosing the color of your logo, to deciding what to put on your website and using Facebook effectively.
When you know why people are drawn to your products or services, you can focus on attracting customers who will be excited about what you offer.
Here are some tips to help you find the best customers for your business or organization.
Find Out Who Your Target Customers Are
Every business should have a well-rounded picture of their target customers—WHO they are, WHERE they live, WHAT they do, and WHY they do it.
There are four types of information that can help you understand your target customers: demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics.
Demographics refer to statistical characteristics, such as age, race, sex, household composition, and income level–the WHO.
People in the same age group or at similar income levels often share similar lifestyles, preferences and needs.
But beware of making too many generalizations based on demographics alone. One 75-year-old retiree may be sick and homebound, while another may be partying away in Miami.
How to Gather Demographic Info
Tons of demographic information is available online.
US, state, county, and local census data is available for free, although navigating the sites to get the data can be challenging.
Cities and towns that are trying to attract business to their area often publish reports that summarize the data for you.
Real estate companies often post easy-to-digest information on their websites.
If you search online, you may find market research reports focusing on your target customers’ demographics.
Geographic data refers to physical locations—the WHERE.
The location could be a country, region, state, or county, or town, right down to individual neighborhoods.
It could also refer to urban, suburban or psychological locations.
How to Gather Geographic Info
Geographic information is usually available through the same sources as demographics (see above).
Your Point of Sales (POS) system, website or social media analytics can usually provide information about where your current customers live.
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you can simply ask people for their zip code when they’re at the register.
You can also conduct a one-question customer survey to gather this information. If you get a low response rate, however, the information you get may not be representative of your entire customer base.
If you know your target customers’ zip codes, you can access all kinds of other info about them. For example, Claritas has categorized every household in the US into distinct lifestyle types, based on where they live.
Behaviors refer to the ways people act—the WHAT. Like demographics and geographics, behaviors are factual and measurable.
How to Gather Behavioral Info
Some behaviors are public and easy to observe, such as social activities, while others are private, so they’re harder to get to.
Virtually all online activity–such as what websites people visit, what ads they click on, whom they follow on social media—can be tracked and measured through Google Analytics and other tracking software. Some companies are even using clickstream data to track users’ digital footprints.
If you advertise online, you’ll have access to vast amounts of behavioral data to guide your targeting decisions.
Psychographics refer to psychological attributes—the WHY. These variables typically include peoples’ lifestyle, activities, interests, and beliefs.
How to Gather Psychographic Info
The Internet and social media have made psychographic research much more accessible. You can find lots of psychographic information online.
Facebook IQ is packed with trends and data that Facebook has gleaned from their 2 billion users.
If you advertise online, you’ll have access to lots of psychographic data to help you reach your target customers.
If you need information about your own customers, try a little DIY market research. There are dozens of free online survey tools you can use. Or just sit down with a customer and ask them what you need to know.
Putting it all together
Once you’ve gathered information on your target customers, summarize what you’ve learned. You may find it helpful to create buyer personas, or little stories, about each of your target customer segments.
While personas are a helpful tool, if you don’t have time for this step, just focus on what motivates people to buy from your company. What do they value about what you offer, beyond the tangible benefits?
For example, there are plenty of places where people can buy fresh produce, but they may choose to return to your farm stand because of the intangibles, such as the way you greet them by name, your terrible jokes, or your cooking suggestions.
When you understand what your customers value about your business, you can devote your marketing resources towards finding more people like them. These are likely to be your most loyal–and probably your most valuable–customers.