We have been profiling customers for our clients for years; we always called it MITS (man-in-the-street) profiling. It means asking the right questions, and accurately determining and understanding the meaning of the answers. We did this in the days before sophisticated data analytics!
In the online trackable universe we now have endless amounts of data”, big and small, but the information may be worthless if you don’t define your criteria, and ask the right questions in your data search.
Here are FIVE KEY Questions to profile your customer that we have used with success from before the days of “data”, and they still work great today!
1. Where can I find my customer; where do they hang out?
Are my customers to be found on the golf links, boating or fishing, flying their own plane, hiking in the wilderness, attending the theatre…..where are they?
Today we have another option; do they spend time online?
Is it easier to find where your customers hangout online? The endless number of product or special interest-focused communities would indicate that it is. However, whether your search is data driven or MITS, you still need to ask very targeted questions to find your demographic and sociographic customer profile.
2. What habits and routines has my customer established?
If you know what, where, and when your customer does things routinely, it enables you to create very targeted campaigns. Example: everyday thousands of people head to gyms in the suburbs of major cities between 7-8am.
We now look online for communities, to engage with our client’s customers, or we may help them create a special interest community to attract their customers. We can even create a habit or a routine for the customer; guiding them to be where and when we want them. It really does look a lot easier than it was. Just think how the major social networks have made this so much more possible!
You can do a psychological profile from their SoMe (Social Media) feed ~ go to twitter, LI or other social networks and find who they are talking to, what they are saying and also what their friends are saying.
3. What lifestyle most accurately describes my customer?
To answer this question it helps to have an understanding of what differentiates lifestyle. Are my customers established in a 9 to 5 business/office routine, or do they have flexible schedules, as well as flexible incomes? Obviously income is a lifestyle driver, as is locale; city or suburban, west or east. Lifestyles may include “the boating crowd”, the “country club set”, “snowbirds”, “pickups and shotguns”…….
Who influences your customers? “Influence” is very much in style today, but it has always been a key line of questioning in determining and understanding your customers’ lifestyle and trends.
Take a look at the hugely influential “Mommy bloggers” and how they are being courted by big and small brands alike.
4. What brands is my customer most likely to buy?
Part of the customer persona is what brands do they gravitate towards. Are they Mac or PC? Audi or Cadillac? Pepsi or Coke? Are they brand-focused at all?
When I was marketing real estate, if I knew what brand of car a person drove, I could tell a lot about them, sometimes even which house they were more likely to buy!
Similarly, in the online world the attraction to certain brands may often be a very good indicator on which social network a customer is likely to hang out, and what communities they gravitate towards.
5. Where does my customer get their news and information?
In the past there were fewer options; radio, TV, newspapers and magazines and outdoor. We broadcast our one-way outgoing message, and sometimes quite successfully.
Today there are many more options to find and consume news online. However, this facilitates many added opportunities for listening to and even having conversations directly with your customer.
Pay attention to niche social platforms if you are looking to sell services and products into niche markets. Example: my business partner has been engaging actively in the FerrariChat social network for 10 years. This discussion forum website has over 120K members, with nearly 400 threads of discussion at any given time. There is much discussion of luxury brands (Ferrari/Lamborghini/watches/private planes, etc.), but in addition he keeps abreast of current news and information there, just as I may do on twitter and G+. It is fun, and often quite revealing, to compare the discussions on the same topics, from the 2 different viewpoints; Ferrari and twitter!
Summary: I’ve always found profiling customers fun, revealing and profitable and you can too! I like noting similarities and differences, connecting the dots and spotting patterns and trends, and of course getting the right answers by asking the right questions!