Getting to Know You. Getting to Know All About You.
There may have been a time when brands could afford not to know their customers, but since the dawn of modern marketing and advertising, any brand that wants to last must know their audience. In the past, this maybe looked like a cigarette company tailoring ads to women, or a cereal manufacturer putting their product on store shelves where children will see it and ask their parents to buy it. Today, getting to know a customer involves data collection, directly engaging with customers, and styling advertising in a way that has never been done before.
Thanks to magical programmers and tech gurus, brands can track consumer behavior. If someone in Grand Rapids, Michigan, clicks on your banner ad, spends twelve minutes browsing your inventory, and then buys nothing and goes back to browsing unrelated hair loss websites, someone knows about it.
This data is combined with data about other consumers to not only establish buying trends and general effectiveness of online ads but also to predict consumer behavior. If someone goes to a store and buys a book about having a baby, that store has good reason to suspect that a baby is in that person’s future. Tracking consumer behavior is exciting, intrusive, and changing the way brands talk to people. Broad messages that appeal to everyone are out. Focused messages that speak directly to consumers are in.
Speaking of speaking directly to consumers, one of the best ways to get to know a customer is to speak to them . . . directly. Thanks to social media and online reviews, all it takes is a post or two to ask someone a question, respond to a critique, or engage someone in a contest. When you engage in a conversation with a consumer, your brand comes across as more genuine and authentic. It reminds people that humans work for your brand.
Directly interacting with customers also allows you to gather more data and to respond quickly to major events or complaints. Reputation management is an extremely important part of any social media plan. Most brands have a forum where people post reviews and critique customer experiences. This even extends beyond official forums to Twitter posts and other social media. When you reach out and respond to feedback, customers see that a brand cares, that a brand is aware of customers, and that a brand is genuinely concerned with creating a great customer experience. The simple act of reaching out can change minds and create a lot of brand loyalty.
By getting to know your customers and gathering data about them, you can create personas. A persona is basically a fake (but typical) customer who represents a swath of your customer base. These personals are fairly detailed, including wants, age, interests, and even living conditions.
For example, “Bob” is a persona. He is 45 years old, is divorced, and has two children. He makes $65,000 a year and works as a pharmacist’s assistant. Bob enjoys sports and attends NBA games at least four times a year. With this persona in place, you can craft ads that directly target individuals similar to this profile. These targeted ads usually cost less than and are likely to be more effective than a broad ad targeted to no one.
Getting to know your customers isn’t just about being friendly (although customers should see you as friendly). It’s about understanding them. The more you get to know and understand your customers, the better you can tailor your advertising and the better you can understand which of your products and services resonate with people.