Relaxing Henry

Strategic Marketing Tips Gleaned from Puppy Training: Tip 2, Know Your Audience

by Heather Hughes on October 9, 2012

I posted my first strategic marketing tip gleaned from puppy training last week. Here is tip number two – know your audience.

Tip 2. Know Your Audience

I’ve been told twice now that Aussies are sensitive dogs. They don’t respond to harsh, dictatorial commands, or, as I’ve learned, to frustrated pleas. Rather, they respond to calm and non-emotional direction. (If you know me you’re probably smiling wryly right now.) This is just one useful bit of knowledge about Henry that should help me in our relationship.

Knowing your audience is critical, not just for messaging and strategic marketing planning, but also for product development and iteration. Here are four items to investigate when getting to know your customers.

1) Demographics and Psychographics: Demographics include the obvious like age, gender, education, income and profession. Sometimes these are quite telling, such as: 80% male, 75% Gen Xers, 80% with a degree in engineering. If you buy into Myers Briggs, or at least the basis of it, then you probably agree that engineers solve problems and make decisions differently than, say, those with a degree in fine arts.

Psychographics include a person’s values, interests and lifestyle. Does your audience tend to like sci-fi or prefer historical fiction? Do they restore classic cars in their free time or bake cakes? Both are creative, but indicate a different type of person.

2) Mindset and Motivation: If you want to genuinely connect and create a solution to meet customer needs, wants and desires then you’ve got to understand what they actually care about.

What motivates the customer in her job? Why does it matter to her, personally and professionally? Does your solution make their job easier so that they have time to actually do the strategic stuff they really like? Does it provide insight that they’ll leverage to excel and get that promotion? Or, does it simplify a painful and time-consuming task, putting them in a better mood and increasing their productivity?

Ask more than: “What’s the benefit of my product or service?” Ask: “What’s the impact and outcome of the benefit that I provide?” If you can get at the latter, then you can get to know your audience at a deeper level and do a better job of communicating about your solution. More important, you can do a better job iterating your solution to meet your customers’ needs. (This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Alan E. Hall.)

Remember, your product or solution is not what you think it is, it is what the customer thinks it is and what the customer thinks it provides.

3) Daily Grind: Part of understanding mindset and motivation is knowing about your customer’s daily grind. What do they literally do day-in and day-out at their jobs? What problems do they solve and what problems do they avoid? Who and what do they depend on the most? What keeps them up at night? That’s an unmet need, also known as an opportunity.

4) Aspirations: Finally, also related to mindset and motivation, to what does your customer aspire? Eliminating stress and hassle from their day? A raise, a promotion or going home at a decent hour to their family most nights? Producing outstanding work? Delighting their customers?

Once you get to know your audience, it’s time to define what makes your solution distinctly better and needed. That brings me to my next tip, messaging, which I’ll cover in my next post.

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