Your Market Is a Person
Target Market as defined by Wikipedia: A ‘target market or target Audience is the market segment which a particular product is marketed to.
The concept of defining a target market is a bedrock kind of tool for any business. My experience, however, is that the clinical approach often taught in marketing courses seems to negate the fact that markets, whether B2B or B2C, are people. This rather obvious fact becomes even more relevant as social technology helps put a face on even the most virtual of client relationships.
Understanding the persona of your ideal client is the first step to creating a marketing strategy that will allow you to effectively carve out a market to build the kind of marketing momentum that can only be described as attraction. When you view your market as a real live image of a personality you can begin to speak to that person in a language that builds trust on the most personal level. But first you must know their story!
Demographics are a start
Look at your current customers. What are the common demographic characteristics shared by your most profitable, referral generating customers. Why this select group? Because there’s probably something very right about how you attracted this group that leads them to the emotional connection required to make referrals. Understand and catalog what you can demographically as a starting point for getting a clearer picture.
Narrowing your sights
Once you start to get a better view of your profitable customers, it’s time to take a good, hard look at the other 70%. You know, the ones you took on because you couldn’t say no or because it had been a slow month or that you’ve done some business with for years, but you don’t really do that kind of work any more. Every organization has those and I’m suggesting you purge them, (well, maybe some) but I do know that in order for your ideal customer approach to become a strategy, you need a very clear picture of the clients you don’t want and you need to start saying no.
Social media adds focus
Getting psychographic and behavioral data on a market is a common practice for marketers as it adds much richer information than statistical data can. Collecting this kind of information used to be expensive and more aggregate than personal. Social media adoption has altered this piece of the puzzle in interesting ways. People joke about people talking about what they had for dinner on Twitter, but that kind of information, while seemingly inane, is marketing gold. Append your entire customer list with everything you can know through social media and you will discover more about what motivates and drives your customers than years of research could ever tell – including which ones wield influence and love to connect and refer.
Visualize real people
Once you’ve done the research above on your ideal client it’s time to start getting visual. Write out a description of a real ideal client that you would love ten more of. Write everything you can think of – What they look like, what they think, what they want, what they fear, what they think fun, risk, and passion look like. Use photos of real people to help you create this total persona and then hang it on the wall for all to absorb. Maybe you need to do this a couple times and develop several distinct ideal client personality types, but imagine if you put this these images and descriptions on the wall and referred to them as you made sales calls, wrote web copy or brainstormed about a product innovation. It’s like having them in the meeting with you. In fact, go a bit over the top and create life size ideal client cut outs and invite Bill and Mary and Tom into your meetings. At least, it will add some fun to the meeting.
A database for your customer
Once you start to get a feel for accessing this level of personal understanding you can begin to change your concept of the client database. Instead of looking at it as a tool for you, flip it and make it a tool for them. In other words, start building a database that contains everything you can know about your customers and use it to make them feel special. Use it to note when significant things have happened, listen to what they are saying in social media and engage on a personal level, send them a birthday gift, or remind them that it’s their anniversary. Every once in a while, sit down with them and ask them to share. It might start with them sharing something about your products and services but, ultimately, if you take this practice to heart, it will turn to them sharing how you can help them achieve their goals.
I don’t know, it just seems like it’s way more fun to work with people who know you’re a person too.
Image credit: /cesco