People will come to me and say “How do I market my business?”, as if there is a foolproof universal method. I will always respond that the first step towards making any kind of marketing strategy is producing a detailed customer profile, which will inform all of your business marketing decisions going forward.
Oftentimes people will think that Facebook is the be all and end all, and don’t realise that their client base is actually more active on Instagram. Or someone will say to me “I’m B2B, so social media doesn’t work for me”, when if they used the right platform and targeted their ads more specifically it could actually be one of the most fruitful methods for them.
Sometimes businesses will be pumping everything they have into social media, which has been hailed as the modern marketing machine, but more ‘traditional’ methods such as a targeted email campaign actually turn out to be more effective.
You can find out which methods are best for you by figuring out your customer profile. Many companies will have more than one customer profile and will have to use different methods to engage with (and ultimately convert!) each one.
I have created a printable to go along with this blog post, with space to answer the questions as you go.
Below are the key questions to ask about your customer profile to ensure that you can design the right marketing strategy going forwards.
1. Age of your ideal customer
The age of your potential customer suggests a lot of things - how they prefer to shop, where they are exposed to adverts, what motivates them, and what social media platforms they tend to frequent. A lot of this is common sense, but there are also a lot of marketing studies which can be found online (Google Scholar is a favourite search tool of mine!) to provide statistics to inform this.
2. Job title (especially for B2B marketing!)
For business to business companies, this may be about how senior the contact must be to be able to make the decision to purchase your product, or about how the product might help them in fulfilling their role. For example, if you provide social media scheduling software you would be targeting Social Media Marketers or Digital Marketers. Tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator are great at helping you to make contact with potential new customers based on their job title.
3. Gender & marketing strategy
Now, does your product market best to a specific gender? There are different studies into what techniques work best with men and women. Studies have shown from NeuroFocus that emotional language works best when marketing to women and they respond well to lots of detail. They show that men do not recall the details as well, but because of their typically greater ability to problem-solve and increased spatial awareness they will respond better to the intricacies of the product’s design.
4. Income of your potential customer
If you are selling a product or service to customers then you need to consider this when drawing up your pricing. If you are market-led and are trying to find a niche where people feel priced out, then a process where you consider their annual income compared to their outgoings will be essential in deciding on your pricing structure. You might also compare your product to your main competitors. If you want to offer an affordable service, you would place yourself at the low end, but if you want to provide a more luxury item with extra benefits then you would price yourself higher and accentuate the extra benefits.
5. Websites they frequent
Now it’s time to start thinking about where you will find your customers. Once you have completed the customer profile printable designed to go with this post, you will have a good idea of where your customers are. Let’s think about a high-end, organic, and eco-focused coffee bean business in Sheffield. Their customers would be active on Instagram under hashtags such as #zerowaste, #plasticfree, or #sustainable.
Side note: A great tip for Instagram, or any social media platform, is to search and find your ideal customers and engage with them on there. Follow them, engage with their posts, and send authentic replies and comments. As well as bringing your business to their notifications, you are also curating a feed full of your potential customers. This can be extra helpful in keeping up with any news or pain points that will help your posts be relevant to your customers.
6. Other businesses they engage with
In this section, you will find both your main competitors and complimentary businesses. Let’s think about competitors first.
Think about what your ideal customer would be looking for when they would stumble across your business. Going back to the high-end coffee company idea, a potential Google Search they would do to find their business would be: “sustainable coffee beans Sheffield”. Therefore, the simplest way to find your biggest competitors is to search this phrase on Google and identify the results which relate closest to your business.
Knowing who your competitors are is helpful for a variety of reasons. As mentioned before, you can compare your pricing structures to ensure you are where you want to be on the pricing scale. You can also watch how they engage with their customers, and how well it works for them. Learn from their mistakes so you make less! Their follower base on social media will also provide you with a massive gold mine of potential customers that they have already found for you!
Complimentary businesses will be present in your social media feeds once you are following enough of your potential customers. They will be mentioned by people reviewing their products, as well as by influencers that are present and specialise in your area. The benefit of finding these businesses is that you can start to build relationships with them, which could lead to more custom for the both of you. Because you’re not working against each other, you can partner up to bring in even more customers - two heads are better than one and all!
7. What problem of theirs does the product solve?
Your product is now coming under analysis. Working in business, you always have to be flexible. I have seen far too many entrepreneurs coming into the market with a product that has not been designed closely enough for a specific customer profile.
Sit and think about the pain points your customers have, and what your product does for them. Think about what exactly would push your customer (that you have already defined so well in the questions above) over to the point of sale.
8. What level of subscription would be best to advertise to them?
You will most often have at least 3 different types of customers, dependent on what industry you are working in. A city centre coffee shop might have professionals, students, and older people as their regulars. They will all have different motives for going to the shop. The professional might want a vibrant space to have a meeting, the student might want a quiet space to work over lunch, and the older person might want to meet a friend for breakfast. These will all require different adverts - you won’t find them in the same spaces, or for them to have the same pain points.
With products that offer different levels of service, or products which can be upgraded, you need to think about what level of package would be of most interest for these people. What combination would you sell to them?
9. What would be the best features for these people?
What is the best thing about your product? Does your city centre coffee shop offer free superfast WiFi for the student? Do you have quiet and noisy areas to make their studying easier whilst the professional has an informal meeting? Do you offer cosy sofas and armchairs which might interest the older person?
Think about your customer profile, and choose several things that you do that they would rave about. What would make them tell all their friends?
10. What USP will make you be favoured over their competitors?
Now, finally, think about your unique selling points. These last few questions might have had a little crossover, but don’t worry that’s normal.
This needs to be considered in terms of your competitors - what makes you stand out? What is the difference between you and the other little coffee shop on the opposite street corner? Do you have a theme? An ethos? A particular vibe?
Think about anything that might set you apart, and write it down. You’ll need to remember these points when it comes to marketing, as you can use them in social media posts, adverts, slogans, and more. Rehearse it so when your great aunt's cousin’s boyfriend’s niece asks you where you work you can tell them why they’d love it there. These USPs are your most versatile and effective marketing tool.
So there you have it - you have a fully defined customer profile. Knowing who your audience is and being able to identify a potential customer is a foundational step in building and implementing a successful marketing strategy.
Look out for more blog posts, where I will build on how you can use this profile in your marketing strategy to land customers. Remember - you have to know them before you can sell to them.
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See you again soon!