If you don't know who your customers are, how can you truly fulfil their needs? This article explains why you should profile your market, and gives you some pointers for getting started with customer profiling.
Research, not guesswork
Once you’ve identified the target market(s) you want to focus on, you need to thoroughly research the characteristics of these particular buyers.
Guessing the make-up of your customer-base should be avoided due to the inherent inaccuracy associated with this approach.
Primary research such as surveys and questionnaires are outstanding for obtaining data for customer profiling. Primary research can be expensive, but it’s not impossible to conduct market research on a soloist’s budget.
There’s also a potpourri of secondary research data available from sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), trade magazines, Google and even local libraries.
The Flying Solo example
While browsing this site recently, I stumbled across the results of Flying Solo’s Understanding Micro Business survey.
This is a classic example of using research to identify the make-up of your market. The survey clearly helps the FS team get to know their readers (it is primary research for them), but the rest of us can use this published data to gain some insights into the SME sector in Australia (it’s secondary research for us as it’s not specific to our businesses).
"There are many ways that you can use your market profiling to enhance your product, pricing, promotion and distribution strategies."
Without rehashing all the data, the survey gives us a great profile of the FS community:
- 59 percent of readers are female and 41 percent are male
- A substantial 46 percent of members are aged between 40 and 54
- Perhaps not so surprisingly, 68 percent of the site’s audience run their businesses from home
- And geographically speaking, 47 percent of the community resides in NSW and 20 percent in Victoria
Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.
B2C or B2B?
The best way to go about your market profiling depends on whether your target is a consumer (who purchases goods or services for their own personal or household consumption), or a business buyer (who purchases goods for the purpose of producing other goods, for resale to other businesses or consumers, and for operational use within their own businesses).
Key bases to cover when performing customer profiling include:
- Demographic factors such as age, income, gender, education, occupation and religion
- Geographic factors such as location, city size and climatic conditions
- Psychographic characteristics: Are your customers ambitious? Extroverts or introverts? Early adopters? Socialites or reclusive?
- Behaviour patterns: For example, on what occasions or for what reasons are your customers likely to shop for, or use, your product?
- Benefits sought: Are you customers making decisions based on safety? Quality? Affordability? Prestige?
When profiling business buyers, some of the same bases (like geography) still apply, however you may also want to consider factors such as:
- Customer type: Are your customers soloists? Franchises? National chains?
- Industry type: Are they retailers or wholesalers? What industry sector are they from?
Applying your findings
The significance of applying your findings cannot be underestimated, and there are many ways that you can use your customer profiling to enhance your product, pricing, promotion and distribution strategies.
For example, if you were manufacturing ugg boots, you’d be able to use your geographic profiling to determine that the cool climate in Victoria is a much more appropriate place to spend your marketing dollar than sunny Townsville in tropical far North Queensland.
Similarly, armed with demographic information about your customers’ level of education (and therefore literacy), you’d be able to use language that’s consistent with their comprehension in your creative copy, websites and brochures.
Have you profiled your market? We’d be interested to hear how the learnings you uncovered have made a difference to your business. Please comment below.