Thought Leadership on Branding/Growth Strategies presented by Catalpha Advertising & Design.
If you are a retailer, you see customers who walk into your store every day and you interact with them, but that interaction doesn’t provide a full demographic profile of customers. Service businesses and B2B companies can have an overview of customer trends by evaluating their sales. But truly understanding what is creating your loyal customer requires more data and a way to review it.
Loyalty programs, coupons and other tracking methods are being used to drive sales for large and small companies. Many B2C companies can easily gather birthdays and mobile numbers. Large companies have invested in technology to track an individual’s purchasing habits or just the buying trends in their store. All these can provide deeper information or can be used for push campaigns to market to specific customers.
For a September 2015 article, Direct Marketing News asked retail-marketing executives to cite their biggest challenges. 52% said it was identifying and engaging their most valuable customers. 51% said differentiating their brand and experiences against competitors was a significant challenge. Yet, approximately one third said they are not able to analyze and integrate their data in a timely manner.
What’s more, only 36% of the retailers surveyed said they use personalized messages and recommendations across marketing channels.
Not every company has the funds to conduct research on its customers or implement technology that will help gather and create reports, let alone hire someone who can read those reports. But even small companies can do guerilla research and analysis. If you have an aggressive growth plan and are facing fierce competition, it makes sense to get the data that will help you effectively spend marketing money to improve brand recognition and loyalty.
How can you use that data to grow the number of loyal customers or target potential customers?
Defining your customer is a key step to determining a smart marketing strategy. We might generalize that women do most of the grocery shopping and household purchases. Men are primary targets for power tools, sports and autos. But lines are blurred when you dig deeper into the impact of today’s lifestyles in the U.S. A 2012 Consumer Reports survey found that 52% of dads identified themselves as the primary grocery shopper, while in 1995, only 10% did. Ask moms and they will challenge this survey. But it goes to show that change is happening.
When was the last time you sat down and defined your primary customers?
A trending term for this is “buyer personas,” or you can call it customer profiles. Personas are more than identifying the title of the person to target. There is always more than one motivator and one buying title within a company or household. Most companies can identify several profiles as their broad customer base. These can be broken down into niche groups with distinct needs and buying motivators if you consider demographics and other factors that affect your buying segment.
Personas have a direct impact on building your brand
The strongest buyer personas are based on market research, as well as on insights you have of your actual customer base (through interaction, purchasing data, surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20.
Note this: The Buyer Persona Institute says that only 44% of companies have defined their customer personas.
Personas are generalized representations of your ideal customers. Separating the personas into primary, secondary and fringe audience by vertical market or industry can be extremely revealing. Identifying all these buyers gives you a deeper understanding of buyers’ needs and behaviors. There are different emotional triggers for each persona. There may be similarities as well as major differentiators. You can test different messages to see which are the best triggers to motivate your buyers very easily and cost effectively with targeted email and PPC campaigns. PPC can be set up to charge for click-throughs, and you can run multiple ads at the same time. It’s a great way to test and refine your message.
Your brand has a direct impact on building your firm
Your logo is a reflection of your product, your brand personality, and a promise to your customer. The visual impact determines whether you stand out in the environment it is displayed. Logos don’t have to be bright to stand out – but they may need to be bold. But branding is more than the logo, visual icon, your product or company. Staying in tune with your customer profiles will let you know if it’s time for a brand refresh.
How to create buyer personas
Defining your buyer personas allows you to evaluate how well the brand style meets your marketing needs. This should be a familiar activity since we all had to define our primary customer when we started our business. But customers are moving targets. Since trends can happen quickly and lifestyles are perpetually changing, having up-to-date customer personas will help you adapt marketing quickly and customize it to your unique personas.
JC Penny, Sears and Staples are struggling to define themselves. Radio Shack gave up and closed its stores because it was unable to engage a loyal customer base and create a reason for people to shop with them, even though it had in-demand products on sale.
Well-crafted personas are created through research, interviews of the target audience, surveys, and your business experience.
Following are four steps you can take to collect the data for buyer personas:
- Dig through your sales records and contacts in your database to find trends on how your customers and prospects find you and respond to the engagement they have with you.
- Interview customers and prospects in person or on the phone. It is an opportunity to build a strong relationship and let your customers know how important they are to you.
- Your sales team and customer service personnel have valuable intelligence. What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers they serve best? Do they notice sales cycles? What are the most common and frequent questions from customers? What problems, service issues and positive responses do they hear?
- Create and execute forms on your website to capture data and feedback. Think strategically. Include fields in your forms that will provide information for your different personas.
How many personas should you develop? The answer is: as many as you need. Don’t stress over it. Just start creating them. Then use them to evaluate and strategize your marketing.
Even a negative persona may be helpful to identify the customers you don’t want.
Surveys show that many companies are struggling with using the data they have. A little more that one third of companies use customer information to create personalized messages. That translates into many not even checking their brand alignment to their target audience. You have a great opportunity to benefit and gain a meaningful competitive advantage by writing your customer profiles and leveraging them to improve brand performance and longevity.
If you are ready to get start, download Catalpha’s worksheet. If you need help defining your personas or using them to check your brand strategy, give us a call.