The importance of *really* understanding your customer


Recently I've been thinking a lot about the sorts of things you might find helpful for your business. I'm looking forward to sharing more on the business of brand styling as well as the process. And something that's relevant to all of us is the importance of really understanding the motivation behind why your customers choose to do business with you. I originally sent this out to my email subscribers, but it had such a fantastic response that I wanted to share it with you guys on the blog too. Enjoy!


What motivates your customers to do business with you?

If there's one thing you can do to transform the power of your brand, it's to understand more about your customer.

Their motivations, their deepest desires and their biggest fears.

Understand what they value about what you do, why they choose to do business with you rather than a competitor and you'll find writing copy, creating your website, styling photos and creating a knockout brand identity so much easier.

More to the point, when you get this stuff right, you'll sell more, because what you're communicating will resonate with your customers.

Understand your customer, sell more stuff!

Many of us define our customer in terms of their demographics. We tend to describe the details in terms of age, class, gender, profession etc. The problem with this is that it really doesn't do much to help you create powerful marketing.

So a traditional customer profile might look something like this: Male, middle class, 30-50, professional, no children, likes football.

Really, what does that tell you? What insight does that give you? How inspiring do you find that?

For me it's not ever going to be the catalyst for creativity. OK, if you're working to a corporate business plan sort of template then it ticks a box, but it's really not the sort of muse I can get excited about.

Understand why

Some years ago I started to change my thinking from traditional demographics to thinking more about psychographics. I started thinking about what motivates people to buy and everything changed. Understanding why someone was motivated to (in many cases pay a premium) for a product or service was essential in getting more people to do the same.

Once you understand why people do what they do, it's easy to talk to them in a way that'll resonate. Have you ever tried doing that for your customers? It's magic! I promise.

Try taking your traditional definitions for customers a few steps further and ask yourself whyWhy do people buy from us? What's motivating them?

What are their aims for life or business? And how do you fit into the picture? Think about their deepest desires and their greatest fears, how do you fit into the picture?

An example from one of my clients

Let me give you an example. I've recently been working with a lifestyle brand to help them develop a strong creative direction and voice.

Their products - high quality Danish designed homewares- were disparate and colours lacking in a cohesive aesthetic. They had some great photography but I knew it would benefit from some focus and emotion that could transform the brand.

One of the main product lines was organic children's blankets. Beautiful products and the business owner had defined her target audience as design savvy parents who value quality.

All of the communication on the website was focused around the rigorous quality checks that were in place, the quality of the products, the manufacturing processes. Important - but background information - something customers will take for granted rather than the reason for buying.

So why do those parents value quality? Who will pay a premium price for a beautifully designed blanket manufactured in Europe? And why?

After much deliberation and discussion we identified that our target customer were middle to upper class professionals: parents, godparents, aunties etc who wanted the very best for their children.

These parents felt guilty about the lack of time they spent with their children and wanted to be sure that the little time they do have, really counted. Celebrating the everyday momentscreating memories.

Those beautiful blankets were the things childhood memories could be made of.

Dens, capes for superheroes or simply snuggling up on the couch in front of a movie. And as the child grew older, the blanket would become a treasured and cherished item. Of course quality matters, but it's much easier to sell on the basis of emotion than it is fact.

Most of us buy with our hearts not our heads. Your job as a business owner is to tap into that.

Selling isn't about forcing someone to buy something they don't want or need. It's about creating a desire for what you do.

It's about showing your current and prospective customers that you have the answer to their problems or desires. It's about creating a tribe. Owning a set of values. Showing a lifestyle that your clients can buy in to.

And doing that effectively starts with understanding your clients. Take an hour or two to ask yourself this question: What's motivating our customers to buy from us? And how effectively are you communicating to those people right now?

I look forward to hearing how you get on!