The Marketer's guide to understanding and being relevant to your customers

The hero of the ad isn’t your brand, it is always your customer. The best brands in the world, the ones with the “good marketers” know how to humanise their brand, by deeply understanding the needs of their customer. 

Here are three steps to help you intimately understand, communicate and acquire your customers. Not so coincidentally these are the steps that you would take to understand your customer if you are a product manager, UX designer or if you’re building your own startup. 

  1. Understand the audience traits (What do your customers needs)

Customer personas/profiles help you document your customer traits. Having properly researched personas allow the various teams within your business to be aligned, helping them understand the needs and traits of your ideal customers and helps with customer acquisition and retention. 

There are two approaches. The strongest approach is using market insights and research to come up with a customer profile. Here are some tools that help give you data behind the customer insights. 

  • Google Analytics to see your web audience demographics
  • A search to see competitor audiences using terms such as the following e.g. Kathmandu customer base led to this detailed article outlining Kathmandu’s customer profiling approach
  • Facebook Audience insights to determine interests, marital status, career and devices used
  • Real estate websites to determine rent prices for suburb, for socio-economic insights
  • Use research papers and published resources to determine where your customers spend the most time e.g. IAB, Nielsen, Analytic Partners

The second, less successful approach is using your own “sound judgement” (aka assumptions) to determine this.

E.g. If you are an outdoor adventure clothing brand that sells via e-commerce only to Australia your customer demographics may resemble the following: 

  • Age: 25 - 45 (who are healthy and into outdoor adventure and travel)
  • Income of $120,000+ (with a high propensity to spend & can afford clothes that are $450+)
  • Country: Australia 
  • Cities based on outbound flight volume: Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland, Perth, Adelaide
  • Interests: Outdoor adventure, Travel, Hiking, Skiing

One way to potentially make this approach successful is if you run your assumptions as a hypothesis to test and iterate on your described target customers. This checks your assumptions really fit the real customers of your business.description 

  1. Customer journey & pain points (How you can help them)

Next we want to understand the customer journey in as much detail as possible, this includes an overview of the customer’s path to purchase, reason to purchase, pain points and motivations. This may be everything from dreaming, to, purchasing and using the product. 

  • Conduct a workshop to walk through the customer journey step by step, include real customers if possible. 
  • Forums such as Facebook Groups, Quora and Reddit threads to understand the topics of conversations. 
  • Customer surveys through Qualtrics or via Google Forms if you want to conduct the survey yourself
  • Look at reviews for your nearest competitors on sites like Google, Amazon and the App Store, particularly the reviews rated three stars or lower. TBut there could be some real gems in this,  in particularly for related to features your product should include or be known for. 
  • If you want to go above and beyond also create negative customer personas to understand which customers will not want to engage with your product or service. This will help you understand who to leave out of your targeting. 
  1. Reason to believe (Why they should buy from you)

This is the most critical step in the process, you need to align your customer personas to your brand. This is about helping customers establish a relationship and trust with your brand. The same message doesn’t work for everyone. Use strong product and brand positioning to help talk to your customers in a way that’s human and relevant. 

For [group of users] that [need/want], [company/product] is a [category/solution] that uniquely solves this by [benefit].

Use the micro-moments framework to help you develop a strategy to shape your consumer’s decisions.  

  • How do you want people to think of or associate with your brand? Tie this in with your mission, vision and branding elements. 
  • How are you going to engage with customers with different levels of awareness to your brand? 
  • See (Awareness) - They don’t know about your brand or product. Answer the question, why should your customers care? This is about being there for your customers and getting noticed. 

E.g. Such as Tourism New Zealand’s Good Morning World campaign taking advantage of the fact they’re the first in the world to see the sun, more than 300 Kiwis will be taking part, embracing New Zealand’s morning landscape and sharing the things and places they love most with the world.

  • Think (Consideration) - They are thinking about your product, but aren’t sure whether they should purchase it. Customers are usually comparing your products against other brands and looking actively for key differentiators and benefits. Answer the question, why your product? This is about being useful. 

E.g. AirBnB Live Like a Local campaign directly addresses the growing dissatisfaction of standard tourist offerings for their customers, while clearly highlighting their unique value proposition of being able to experience cities like a local, from the homes of locals. 

  • Do (Conversion) - This is about convincing your customers you are the right choice by looking at buying triggers. Answer the question, why now? This is about nailing the customer experience and convincing customers to choose your product above everything else. 

E.g. Mail Chimp who clearly outline their value, with a single very clear call to action. 

While it may be tempting to shortcut this process, there’s a lot of benefit in following this process, a human-driven customer acquisition strategy will be one of your strongest assets to help you thrive through any climate. There you go! Now you know your heroes, next it’s time to tell your stories. 

If you're new to customer journey mapping and need a bit of help developing your customer profiles you can reach out to our Digital Marketing experts in our 1:1 Complimentary Consulting sessions.

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