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Yesterday, we talked about listening to your customers to pay attention to the “why” behind their purchases. Today, we’re focusing more on the “who.” It probably goes without saying that another critical component in getting to know your customers and clients is that you gather as much demographic and psychographic information about them as possible.

If you’re a larger company or if you serve multiple market segments, then you need to compile this data for each of your major product or service offerings. Look at factors such as whether they are businesses or individuals, single or multiple decision-makers, one-time or recurring purchasers, their age, gender, location, background, likes and dislikes, etc. My clients and students use a 16-point questionnaire as a starting point to build a profile of their typical buyer.

The main goal for this is that when you’re working to craft a message that will impact your customers (or future customers) meaningfully, you must be intentional about who you’re “talking” to in your marketing. Your customers will ignore (read: not take action on) your messages that they don’t connect with personally. This seems obvious, but for some reason we tend to get temporarily stupid when we get to this point. Many a potentially great marketing effort has been stymied when the intended audience is left out of the equation. We end up with efforts that are focused on us and not on them – in more ways than one.

I say it often: you are not your customer. I frequently have my clients and students find a photograph that represents their ideal customer, and hang it on the wall. Then we have them craft everything as if it were intended for that one person.

Take some time to look back at your previous marketing efforts. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself how narrowly focused you’ve been on your ideal customer. Notice any trends?

Tomorrow: why it’s so easy to focus on your customer in the 21st century. Don’t miss it!