How well do you know your customers?

One of the first questions I ask clients is ‘do you know who your customers are?’ 9 out of ten will invariably admit they don’t.

Knowing one’s customer is fundamental to the development of any effective marketing strategy. Yet, it’s an area of intelligence that is often overlooked or ignored.

If you want to know who your customers are, so your marketing can reach out to them more effectively, there are ways to find out.

1. You can look at data you already have

Many organisations have a rich repository of data that marketing departments simply don’t tap into. During the sign up or sales process for many services, basic but key information like date of birth, gender, address, type of purchase and date of purchase are provided. By simply looking at this data, important extrapolations can be made on the type of customer who is more likely to buy your products and who you should be targeting as a result.

If you need to go a step further, a simple variable like a customer’s postcode can help. If linked to geocoding services provided by external vendors such as Singapore Post, what they can do is help you build a richer picture of your customers – not just in terms of demographics but also psychographics, tastes and lifestyles, allowing you to better understand the way you should be marketing to them.

2. You can look at sources of media intelligence

Media agencies are a rich source of business and marketing intelligence. Most have access to key research databases like AC Nielsen’s Media Index for example – which can guide your understanding of who you should be targeting.

Based on interviews with thousands of Singaporeans, these databases use indexing to tell you which consumer sets are more likely to buy your brand and also those of your competitors. They have lifestyle-based questions that help you understand their mindset and attitude.

In a recent project for a soft drink manufacturer, we looked at such a database to understand which customer sets were more likely to prefer the product category we were working on and also what their mindsets were. We zeroed in on females 15 – 21 ultimately – a group the entire strategy thereafter was based.

3. You can enhance data by adding variables to it

Often a company has key variables in its data that are missing. Sometimes these can be obtained through external companies that trade in intelligence.

In a project I worked on for a firm that operated in the b2b space for example, we used SIC (standard industrial classification) codes to understand who the company’s key customers were and also how we could be targeting more of them in the future. What SIC codes helped us do was drill down to 3 key verticals that made up more than 80% of the company’s revenues as well as the 6 key sub-verticals under each of them. The result was a crystal clear image, based on actual sales data that showed who the companies customers were – and who they should be targeting in the future as a result as well.

4. You can conduct formal research into the matter

Few customers will grudge an effort from a company to get to know them better. When I worked on the AUSTAR Pay TV business in Australia, we sent out a survey to the company’s entire base of 350,000 customers. 15% responded! What was interesting about this survey was that it was not digitally activated. It was an A4 sheet of 15 questions that had to be filled in and mailed back to us. What we gained from the survey was pure gold in terms of knowledge and understanding of our customers, their life-stage, mindset, perception of the brand, consideration of competitors and intention to take up further products.

The knowledge helped drive a long term customer management strategy with clear KPI’s also being formulated for multiple divisions across the company from marketing, sales, customer service, billing and product development.

Do you know your customers?

If you don’t, there are 4 easy ways to find out. Ways that can help you reach out to them through marketing in a more relevant and effective manner.

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