Chopping Up Customers

In a prior article or two, I talked about different behavioral styles and a little bit about social media. Today, we're going to tie those together and convince you to abandon ads on TV, radio, and newspapers.

First, let's talk about what those three mediums really are: shotgun marketing. You have one message, and you shoot it at the crowd that each medium's salesperson tells you they have a lock on, and then you sit back and hope that your buckshot hits enough people to at least cover the cost of the ad (you do measure that, right?).

It's easy, right? They probably even put the ad together for you, or your agency does, and everyone tells you that that's where you need to spend your money because that's where the people are. And they're right - there are people there. The problem is, those people aren't Customers. They're media salespeople and ad agencies who make a lot of money every time you produce a shotgun ad.

The problem with shotgun ads is that they're not very measurable. This is to the advantage of everyone but you. If you can't measure the results, all you have to go by is how many people buy from you in general following a campaign. How do you know that it had anything to do with your ad? And even if you have a coupon code or something similar, and your reps don't let Customers have the special even if they don't have the coupon or the code (they never do that, right?), your typical response rate is probably somewhere between 1% and 3%, and you marketing people will tell you that's good.

Missing 97% (or more) of the people we aim at is good? Since when?

The core issue is, you're trying to hit several different kinds of slippery fish with buckshot. You don't use buckshot on fish; you use bait. And each type of fish has different tastes when it comes to bait. And some like bait that floats on the surface, some like bait that moves around or has a particular scent or color or feathers or or or...

You don't need a shotgun. You need a tackle box!

The first step in fly fishing, before you ever tie a fly, is to know what kinds of fish you want to catch, and then what those fish like. That means gathering information about your Target Customers - as much as you possibly and legally can. (At this stage, not necessarily information tied to a specific person; we'll talk about that in another post.) This is the bare minimum (bearing in mind that the needs of your business may require additions):
  • Age 
  • Sex 
  • Household Income 
  • Dependents 
  • Interests 
  • Ethnicity 
  • Sexual Orientation* 
  • Sources of Information (what used to be called 'news') 
  • Behavioral Style

Once you know what your Target Customer's answers are to each of these questions - and remembering that you may have more than one target Customer - you can begin to break down their demographics. (Note: The old media that I mentioned before - radio, TV, and newspapers - will try to tell you that they have demographics, too, already all broken down for you. This is a lie. At best, they have guesses and hopes, none of which are something that you should risk your revenue on.)

Now look at as much information as you have on your actual Customers. How closely do they match your Target Customer? If it's not a close match, you just learned a bunch about whoever decided what your Target Customer looks like (hope their resume is up to date). Adjust your Target Customer to more closely match your actual Customers.

Now, how many Target Customers did you come up with? If you only have one, you'd better be a military contractor, or you're in trouble. You want a minimum of three or four to sustain your business if interest in your product or service wanes in any one group (or, in the case of B2B companies, in case one of your Target Industries has a financial downturn). As a general rule, more is better.

Once you have your target Customers finalized, you can begin to break out where your marketing money should go, and how you need to rewrite your message so that it speaks in the language that each Target Customer wants to hear and how it addresses the needs that each one has.

This is called Segment Marketing, among many other names. And while it definitely takes more work and time on your part, it doesn't need to cost more than what you already waste (I can't say "spend", because I only spend money on things that benefit me) on old media marketing - and your conversion rate will show a drastic improvement. It's hard not to like something that earns more for the same investment.

And, lest you think I forgot my promise to tie in social media, check out Mashable's lovely infographic. If your brain isn't buzzing with new marketing ideas by the time you get to the bottom, it may be a good time to take a nap.

* You are not asking Customers to come out of the closet. But knowing if a gay person is a potential Target Customer for your product or service - because they tend to have more disposable income, for example - may help you decide whether or not to spend money with a gay-focused publication or event. You could just as easily add religious or political orientation, too, depending on whether or not these factors are related to your core business.

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