What is it with people being able to offer up a microanalysis of the old boot of a bank clerk that ruined their day, two weeks ago, without even having to ask?
You know, the one who was missing part of her right front tooth, had dandruff on her collar and who you imagined to absolutely despise her job, and people, and to frequently find happiness at the bottom of a cheap whisky bottle? Yet, ask someone to describe the customers they deal with on a day-to-day basis and…. *crickets*…. After a little prying and they finally rediscover words you’ll get, ‘mostly men who work in the city.’ That’s it.
It’s a common occurrence. People have absolutely no problem analysing, generalising and pigeonholing, often brutally, of their own accord, yet can’t channel their inner critic to save their lives when given free-reign to do so. It is as though we experience some sort of evolved mental state at the exact moment when someone royally p’s us off, giving us access to describing abilities we never knew we possessed. Or perhaps we’re just so self-aware and politically correct these days that we hit the mute button as soon as we are consciously aware that someone might be listening in on our hyper-criticism. What do you think? Ok, so I am glad we’re in agreement – we’re all a bunch of critics who simply reside to using our inside voices, unless safely behind closed doors.
What if I told you that this underground behaviour held the keys to more dollars for your business should you choose to master it?
Negative Nancy Can Zip It
Whether you like it or not, people you know and meet will at some point pop you into a little box, commonly known as a ‘stereotype.’ Consciously or not, they’ll observe, hyper-analyse and then shove you in, kicking and screaming if required, so they can move on with stereotyping the next person they meet. Sounds shit doesn’t it?
For those of you who are hung up on, and shudder (publicly) at the word ‘stereotype’, let’s replace it with the apparently less confronting synonym, ‘pigeonhole’. I wonder why shoving birds in boxes is less confronting, but that’s a debate for another day.
What if we turned the concept of pigeonholing/stereotyping/generalising (whatever you choose to call it) on it’s head and considered this obsession with popping people into small boxes as merely a bid to better understand who they are, what they do and how one might go about best interacting with them (or assuming enough about them and where they hang, to ensure you can retain no interaction at all)? Has anyone ever thought that as much as we are engrained to compartmentalise people that we might also be conditioned to believe that this daily exercise is a bad thing?
Well, I can tell you now, there’s nothing bad about stereotyping for those of you in business. In fact, your ability to be able to compartmentalise, analyse and comprehensively understand the people you do business with is going to have you placed leaps and bounds ahead of those who can’t, or perhaps won’t. That is correct, the next time negative Nancy berates you for being ‘judgmental’ (who might I add is likely to be the biggest Judgy McJudgalot of them all), you tell her from me to zip it, and pigeonhole away!
Intimately understanding your customer is marketing 101 and the key to mucho dollaros. If you know what makes them tick, you can more easily lull them into a false sense of security and take all of their money. I jest. But in all seriousness, the better you understand who has a need for your offering, the more likely you are to meet it, the more relevant you can become to them, the more deeply you can connect with them and the more likely you are to engage with them as a paying customer.
Divide and conquer
In the world of marketing, we call the physical process of breaking down the customer into digestible groups, with an aim of understanding what gets them going, ‘Customer Profiling’. Yeah, the industry renamed it something technical, to avoid giving people the idea that we sit around judging people all day. It might sound dull, but the process of undertaking critical psychoanalysis of your customers, past and present, is surprisingly therapeutic.
A word of advice – a chilled glass of Pinot Gris is definitely conducive to a more liberal analysis.
Essentially, customer profiling involves unleashing the wild beast that we discussed in the first two paragraphs, channeling your inner detective, to get to the bottom of who John & Jane Doe really are. While we don’t condone pulling on plastic gloves, snooping through journals and undertaking DIY DNA tests, we do wholeheartedly support and moreover encourage, turning up the volume on that analytical voice and taking the time out to give names to nameless faces, faces to faceless people, personalities to personality-less bodies, to truly getting to know those that might ordinarily remain somewhat of a mystery.
Easy for us to say. We do it day in and day out. That’s why we’ve thrown together some pointers on how you can better understand your customers.
Wine and a Spreadsheet
You know what it is you sell, inside and out; why people need it, why people love it and why people should choose your goods over anyone else’s. You’ll also know who won’t like it, why they won’t like it and why they won’t choose to buy into it. Despite this knowledge, many businesses still choose to take a blanket approach to marketing their products or services, that takes no consideration for the exact people they are trying to obtain as customers – where they are, what they do, how they think and feel. So, it also makes sense that in doing so they’re under realising their selling potential.
Reviving your relationship with Microsoft Excel, accompanied by a glass (or bottle -who am I to judge) can turn the tables when it comes to marketing. The process of tackling your spreadsheet, getting into the nitty-gritty, warts and all, will give you a level of customer understanding that’s invaluable when it comes to tailoring products, services, and messages to the people you want to put their hands in their pockets and buy. If you’re like me and manage to be liberal without the need for a dose of dutch courage, then feel free to skip the part where you pour a glass of your favourite tipple. Though, if you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and struggle to string critical words together, pour yourself a large. Now we’ve got hydration out of the way, pull up that spreadsheet and let’s get some rows and columns going on.
|Name||Mr. Cocky, Mrs. Social?|
|Age||Actual age, not what they wished they were|
|Sex||M, F, X – you get the gist|
|Income||The pool of funds available for siphoning|
|Education||What’s on paper, not what’s apparent|
|Hobbies/Interests||Do they wear lycra in their spare time?|
|Buyer Behaviour||Does their ‘daily workout’ relate to an aluminium Amex, or are they keen for a haggle at the Reject Shop?|
|Perception of Money||Necessity or for their Instagram showreel?|
|Technology||Dinosaur or otherwise?|
|Values||Expects a red carpet and a Mariachi band post hose extension purchase at Bunnings?|
|What value do you offer this customer?||Self-explanatory|
|What does this segment say about your product/service NOW? (where you are)||Good from far but far from good?|
|What does this segment say about your product/service in the FUTURE? (where you want to be)||Take my money?|
The Token Takeaway
Although I may enjoy using humour to deliver a point, our main vision here is to help you understand the benefits that can come from understanding your customer. I implore you not to be the douchebag with the Amex that often throws marketing dollars at a wall, hoping it, and more bounces back. Make it strategic. How? Take the time to carve up your customers into bite-sized chunks, pinpoint the need they have for your product or service and then meet them where they are with a message that demonstrates that you’ve got a solution. As uncomfortable as it may seem to typecast your audience, it allows your marketing strategy to effectively address each primary audience member.
Stuck for where to start? Or, perhaps you’re caught in the middle and aren’t sure where to go next? Drop us a line – we love a good stereotyping, pigeonholing, labelling, generalising, customer profiling session.