Considered a pioneer of marketing, John Wanamaker was a US merchant who famously stated: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” That statement still rings true today. Even with all the analytics and digital metrics you can muster – chances are pretty good that you’re bleeding customers and marketing dollars all over the place.
The solution is not to come up with a viral video, a contest or another campaign of some sort. Solution is to go back to the foundation and figure out exactly who you should be talking to in the first place. Business owners often cast their net too wide, attempting to capture the attention of all females, between 25 to 54, who live in Portland (for example). Within that kind of a segment there are wild variations in personal values, motivations and behaviour. A 45 year old female tree-hugging yoga instructor is a completely different person then a 50 year old female executive of a national bank. So why do we put them in the same bucket?
By trying to talk to everyone, your message loses relevancy and your marketing dollars get stretched too thin. To pull “we talk to everyone” off, you’d have to have a budget of Walmart or P&G magnitude. For the rest of us… we need to be smarter with our marketing and it all starts with developing proper target markets.
I’ll share with you a process I use with clients to develop deep marketing profiles which we build a strategy on. Doing this first and doing it right will net you better clients, increase customer retention and give you a better bang for your marketing dollar. There’s also a downloadable slideshow at the end. Let’s get started…
IMPORTANT: What we’re trying to do here is create deep, genuine relationships with our customers. Not cajole, trick or manipulate them into buying something.
Think of your favorite customer or client. One that makes you smile when they call or walk in. One that pays on time and is a pleasure to work with. They may have even sent a thank you card. By focusing specifically on your best customers, you may see fringe benefit of less customer service and price resistance as well.
NOTE: You may have more then one target market, but I would strongly recommend having no more then 3.
Layer 1: Persona
Above and beyond age, gender and geographic location – we will add an image, name, attitudes and attributes. The last two specifically are very important. Each part should be specific and detailed, so that you’re not addressing masses of people – but just ONE person. Let’s go through each part:
Name – Give your persona a name. This helps us reframe our customers from a faceless mass, to one specific person.
Age – Generationally, we are different. Each segment uses different language, listens to different music and understands the world in its own way. Be aware of which generation your target market falls into, as that may be a determining factor to which channels we use to reach them and what kind of message will resonate.
Gender – Genetically, we are different :) To use some sweeping stereotypes, females are more community oriented, caring, emotional and empathic. Males on the other hand tend to be more distant and competitive with a hunter mentality (that’s why video games like Call of Duty have a large, male, 35-ish customer base).
Attitudes – These are the personality traits, or the soft aspects, of your ideal customer. Determining whether someone is social or private, outgoing or introverted, rebellious or loyal, flexible or stubborn, etc. Come up with 3 to 5 traits that fit.
Attributes – These are hard aspects of the persona. For example, where they live, what kind of car they drive, if they have children, are they married, where they work, etc. Come up with 3 to 5 that fit.
Image – An image ties the persona together. You can make an emotional connection when you look someone in the eyes and understand them on a deeper level. It also helps to remind us that we’re talking to real people here.
Layer 2: Empathy Map
For this part, try and put yourself into your customer’s shoes. Well… more specifically, their head. What we want to do is to understand and think about what their regular, day-to-day life looks, sounds and feels like. This is important because you now start understanding what actually motivates their behaviour and what they’re exposed to every day. The best way to approach this is to NOT think like a marketer. Take your marketing hat off and just be human. We want to connect on a much deeper level here, so at this point – business intent and corporate language goes out the window.
I use a simplified empathy map, like in the image above. Let’s go through each part.
Think and Feel – On a regular day… What are some of the thoughts and feelings that pervade your mind (you’re now in your customer’s head). For example, are you thinking about retirement, do you feel pressured to stay late at work, are you excited by changes happening in the workplace or do you feel threatened, are you thinking about your next vacation… I know it’s hard to do this exercise, but do your best and get creative – this will allow us to dig deeper and make real, genuine connections with our customers.
Hear – On a regular day… what kind of language, words and phrases do you hear? That is really important, because it helps us craft better messages with proper words and language your customer use, instantly increasing the chance it will catch their eye (or ear).
See – When you drive to work, what do you see? Bilboards? Busses? Trees? What kind of colors and imagery are surrounded by?
Say and Do – What is your behaviour actually like? Will you go for a run before work? Do you shop online? Will you plan a party for your friend’s birthday? Do you drive aggressively or defensively? Do you buy the latest and greatest or do you wait for the price to come down because it makes you feel smarter (see, it all ties together!)
Layer 3: Personality Archetype
At this time I use the Pearson Archetypal System – which is based on Carl Jung’s work If you’ve ever taken a Myers-Briggs test or heard of The Collective Unconscious, that was also based on Jung’s work. He spent decades studying what makes up a personality and his work is incredibly important when it comes to creating powerful connections. The Pearson system uses 12 archetypes, but they apply it to brands. We’ll take a different approach and use it in its source form – and apply it to a person.
Here’s an example of what The Caregiver archetype looks like:
“Caregiver individuals are most fulfilled when they can make a difference for someone else. Naturally compassionate, nurturing, and dedicated, they enjoy demonstrating their supportiveness and can motivate others to provide better service or care. They’re usually excited and challenged by responding to needs.
Caregiver types need to watch their tendencies toward martyrdom and enabling others, and to burn themselves out while always putting others first.”
Finally, we come to the marketing profile. The profile is a synthesis of all three layers above, extracting the most important assumptions and data which focus on motivation, values and drivers of behaviour.
A marketing profile will usually contain a piece of narrative to put a context around the person we’re trying to communicate with. We’ll also extract 5 most important, specific and actionable points about them, we can then use to structure our communications and branding around.
There you have it. It’s a process that does take some time to go through but the return on that investment is substantial. You’ll be able to develop deeper, more meaningful connections with your customers and speak to them in a language that resonates. This post is part of a series on Minimalist Marketing Strategy Framework that I am developing into a book.
And for your reference, I put together a slideshow that goes over the Target Market Profile Development:
– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter