As more and more marketers and salespeople grapple with how to segment their leads and personalize their messaging, the question of demographics is asked. If you've created an emarketing campaign lately, you've likely been asked, what's the customer profile you're targeting?
For some reason, the idea of a customer profile has become kind of like the POW concept of name, rank and serial number. Only marketers do it by prospect title, company size, revenues and employee counts. Depending on what you sell, some of these may have merit, but consider this:
Those definitions are what companies use to decide whether or not they want a prospect.
The problem with this approach is that it has nothing to do with the prospect deciding they want you, your products or solutions. Nothing.
It's interesting to note that even with all the customer-focused strategy discussions, companies still behave as if this process of selection was all about them. And, sometimes it may indeed work out that way.
But, before you start thinking "see, I'm okay, no need to change my thinking about this," chances are those customers tend to be the ones you talked into buying instead of the ones who were actually interested in buying from you in the first place. These are the ones who can turn into demanding, unfriendly customers—so far from your favorite, ideal customers that, after a while, you pray they'll defect. They also tend to be the ones who have the lowest net margins for profitability.
When you think about customer profiles from now on, think about them in relation to Catch Factors.
Take a look at the 5 Catch Factors in relation to generating customer profiles that help you make better connections with your prospects:
- Urgency. Define why a prospect will need your product, solution or service now.
- Why is paying you their attention critical for them today?
- What factors about their situation make it worthwhile to change their status quo sooner, rather than later?
- What are the business problems they're facing that must be dealt with immediately to reach strategic objectives and gain critical business outcomes?
- Impact. Assess the value your prospects will both receive by choosing to work with you and gain for themselves because of that choice.
- What overall business value will your prospect achieve if they act on their urgent priorities by choosing your company as a trusted advisor?
- What expertise will you bring to the project that will have a lasting impact on the way they accomplish their business goals?
- How will their professional status be changed by this choice?
- What values will be delivered that reach farther into the enterprise than the immediate project?
- Effort. Evaluate the difficulty of taking action from the prospect's perspective.
- How hard will they think it is to pursue solving their urgent problem or take advantage of the strategic opportunity under consideration?
- What will they perceive as obstacles that require too much energy to overcome?
- How can you make it easy for them to choose to engage with you?
- Reputation. Your prospect's existing and developing impression of you and your company. [HINT: This does not mean saying "Our company is the leading provider of..."]
- What do your prospects currently think about or know about your company?
- In what ways can you make lasting impressions that build a solid presence with your prospects?
- What will they likely hear from their peers and colleagues if they mention your company and how can you impact that?
- Intent. Transparent actions you can take to elevate your credibility with your prospect.
- What can you do to demonstrate you walk your talk in a way that provides value to your prospects?
- How can you expose your expertise to become a trusted advisor?
- Why would your prospects turn to you to help them solve an urgent, priority problem with high impact to their company's business outcomes?
- What will your prospects think you want from them?
Every campaign has a foundational goal. By starting with that goal and asking and answering the questions for each Catch Factor from the prospect's perspective, you'll begin to see a pattern emerge that will help you formulate a customer profile that enables you to determine just who has the highest potential to be interested in your information and interaction invitations.
By creating your emarketing strategies around the scenarios you develop during this customer profile process, you'll gain great insights to what truly interests, concerns and motivates the prospects most likely to become your ideal customers. And isn't that just what you need to know.
There is just one caveat. This isn't easy. It'll take research, conversations, listening and exploration to discover the best answers. It's not as simple as going to Hoovers and pulling a demographics-based list. Or just blasting everyone in your database.
So, why should you do it? Because by undertaking this type of exercise as part of your overall emarketing strategy you'll get to know your customers.
- You'll start seeing your prospects' situations from their perspectives.
- You'll be in a prime position to add needed value.
- You'll know who they are, what their priorities are, and how to serve them in a way that makes a lasting, positive impression.
- You'll get their attention--and you'll be able to keep it--all the way through their buying journey.
Adding value is what generates relationships. And, it's very hard to add value if all you have to go by is statistical demographic information that does nothing to help you get to know who you're selling to.
The truth about demographics is that they're an internal assessment tool for statisticians. Demographics have their place, but not in defining who your customers are or how to structure the effective components of a successful, interactive emarketing strategy.