The building block of any marketing plan is knowing your customer. It’s virtually impossible to craft a marketing plan of any kind without visualizing someone who would not only use your product or service, but who wants your product or service. Anyone who is in business can quantify at least a few details about who their customer is: gender, location, occupation, needs or desires.

But does that actually mean you know what your customers want?

Don’t answer yes so quickly.

You may know that your ideal customer is a male in his 20’s and 30’s living in Western Canada who enjoys the outdoors, but does that mean that your product is meaningful or can create attachment to that broad of an avatar?

In our day and age, we need to delve deeper. Meaningful relationships with brands matter now more than ever to Millennial consumers. Your brand is an extension of their life and also represents who they are to friends and strangers alike. For example, an outdoor lifestyle clothing brand that gives 10% of their proceeds to renewable energy research and makes its products out of vegan-friendly materials may resonate quite well on Vancouver Island, but it’s not going to see the same pick up in Alberta where your male demographic is much more likely to work in or support the energy sector, eat meat, and hunt. Both places are home to young men who enjoy many of the same outdoor activities, but they are two very different groups of people.

They want you to speak to them

In order to really know who your customers are, you need to delve deeper into their mindset: what causes they support, how they may vote, the content they consume, even the food they eat could play a role in whether or not they choose to make you a part of their lives.

When the time comes to launch a new offering, take the time beforehand to do your research. Take for example Pepsi’s tone-deaf ad featuring Kendall Jenner that makes a play off of the political protests in 2017. While their intentions of being sympathetic to social causes may not have been entirely off-base, using a celebrity that is seen by many as privileged, lacking substance, and most importantly, not seen as an icon by the very movement they were trying to market to, saw the ad being pulled almost as fast as it went up.

In this case we see a big brand like Pepsi failing to understand what audience they are marketing to. Are they marketing to the “woke” social culture of our current times? Or are they marketing to the celebrity-obsessed fans of reality TV and Instagram influencers? By not doing their research, they did serious brand damage.

We are now in a customer based world, and that has to reflect in your business. If you’re wondering what we mean by that, take a look at our post for a further breakdown.

Don’t launch without asking first

Research is the building block of a successful launch, and so often, it starts with the simple question: what do you want? For brands with established customer bases, it’s much easier. Surveys tied back to incentives like a discount or contest entry guarantees a larger uptake, and in turn, a much bigger pool of information to draw from. For emerging brands, concentrate on conceptualizing your ideal customer down to the most minute detail you can. Use it as a fun team exercise – really dive into who they are. If you can think of someone in your life who fits the avatar, ask them questions about the brands they like. Do everything you can to create this “imaginary” character and when you’re on the road to launch, ask yourself, “Is this on par with our avatar?”

The needs of the customer are constantly evolving. Are you adapting? Take a look at our video on adjusting to customer needs for a deeper dive on the subject.

Listen to what they say

You can reach out to your target audience all you like but it won’t mean a thing if you don’t listen. The real key is “listening beyond listening” ie: looking for trends in responses. Are there common phrases and pieces of feedback that keep coming up over and over again? Use them. Take a look at what they aren’t saying as well. Is there a key element in your marketing plan that wasn’t addressed in your research? At best, the unaddressed piece could take up valuable time and resources that could be spent on other areas that do provide value. At the worst it could create a situation like the Pepsi example above. We wonder if the marketers behind that campaign bothered to ask that if anyone who was sympathetic to social justice causes also happened to be fans of Kendall Jenner and reality tv?

We think not.

Asking why didn’t they buy from you

Rejection may be one of the worst parts of doing business, but if we can’t learn from our failings, how will we ever get better? We’ll never improve as romantic partners without asking our loved ones how we can be better and improve on what we did wrong. We will never get the job of our dreams if we don’t ask why we weren’t picked in failed job interviews. The same applies for your offering. Reaching back out to your customer base for feedback, through surveys, social media, or focus groups can give great insight into why there wasn’t the uptake you had hoped for.

As the legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said: “When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”

If you’d like to find out more about to discovering who your customers really are, we’d love to chat. Contact us today and book a coffee to take your audience research to the next level.