Getting more customers

Written by Ed Beckmann Monday, 14 March 2011 08:50

Getting more customers

This is part of ‘understanding customers’ in our ‘up and running’ and ‘making progress’ courses. Whatever our situation, people need to hear about us and we need to provide what they want at a price they are willing to pay!

We’ll cover how to get more customers in three articles over the next few weeks, under these headings:

  • basic market research

  • profiling customers (customer segmentation)

  • targeting PR and marketing

This post highlights how to use research to understand what people might want, how much they might pay for it, what attracts them to the alternatives and how they exist without us now. We then consider how marketing activities can help us spread the word to different people. At the end, you will understand how the three elements above fit together, and what happens if you do not consider each one in turn.

Basic market research

Although we know something about our actual or potential customers, we need market research to fill in the gaps and provide evidence to back up what we think we know. Although a lot of people associate market research with either clipboards or postal questionnaires, we can also gather information from findings in magazines, by asking people (and recording the answers) or by simple online surveys.

Research puts some real numbers behind the impressions we might already have, and provides scale where we have no ideas at all (e.g. how many people in the UK own a dog, how many go surfing, how many residents play squash etc.). We need research to inform us how many people might come to us, because hoping for everyone in the world just by setting up a website does not work.

Two secrets of research are to recognise when we are guessing (‘lots of people seem to …’) and to understand the psychology of questions. Think about the following questions:

do you prefer black or red?

Which colour do you prefer?

Does colour matter to you?

Do you think x is a good idea?

Would you buy x?

Can you imagine the different information you would get from each one?

Profiling your customers

This subject can result in quite strong views, so let’s start by agreeing that all people are different, but many will have similar preferences or needs.

Profiling (or market segmentation) is about spotting which groups of people have similar preferences and working with them. For example, some go for bright colours, some like a noisy atmosphere. More young people buy electronic gadgets than older people – more older people buy certain types of chair than young people.

Even though you might want to attract anyone in the world to your business or service, you can probably divide them into groups who behave differently. This is not discrimination, just recognising similarities.

Knowing these groups of people well provides the opportunity to communicate in different ways, or plan different services and products.

Targeting PR and Marketing

Targeted marketing is the term used when we have a particular group of customers in mind in designing our marketing or PR activity. Flick through any magazine or watch TV adverts at different times and on different channels, and you can guess the stereotypes the seller is aiming for. So although anyone might take notice of the advert, certain people (customer segments) are more likely to.

The point of targeting is that:

  • the people who you are targeting will feel that you are really identifying with them, and will be a better ‘fit’

  • you will spend less and get better results than if you did something generic that tried to appeal to everybody

  • if you have a range of products and services, you can use targeting to bring more interest in just some of them

Finally, when you target marketing you can also track the response. This lets us revise the amount of interest we might get or reconsider which marketing efforts are worthwhile.

Because people are always willing to sell us advertising opportunities!

Summary of simple marketing introduction

Although we have not come up with a magic tip to get more customers now, we can build on the three principles soon.