November 1st, 2013
By Grant Leboff
Marketers were always taught to segment their customers based on demography. That is; characteristics such as age, sex, ethnicity, geography etc. There was good reason for this. If you were going to advertise washing powder during a commercial break on television, there was one aspect of the audience’s behaviour that you could absolutely guarantee. They were not buying washing powder. Rather, they were engaged in watching television at the time!
Knowing that their advertising messages were being viewed completely out of context, companies could only attempt to get ‘bang for their buck’ by ensuring their messages were seen by the most appropriate audience. So, for example, if you were advertising a new lipstick aimed at younger women, you would want to advertise during a programme which appealed to that demographic.
It is not that understanding the demography of your customer is no longer important. However, in the Web enabled digital world, there is an aspect even more important than demography which companies now must consider.
Traditional marketing relied on companies ‘shouting’ their messages at potential customers via channels such as TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, the letterbox and the phone, etc. These marketing vehicles were crass in that however good the data a company was using, for most people, most of the time, these messages were simply deemed irrelevant.
The point with new marketing is not that companies now have extra channels with which to ‘shout’ at their customers, but rather consumers can now access information at the time of their choosing. In fact, with the ubiquity of smart phones, today’s purchasers can access information literally from almost any place and at any time.
Here, however, lies the key to great segmentation today. The fact that an individual can access any information they want, at any time, doesn’t mean they will. For example, no one wakes up in the morning and decides they must perform a Google search on sales training providers in their area, or searches on accountancy firms without having a good reason to do so.
In other words, every purchase is triggered by an event or timing in our lives. We may be looking for a new car because we change our car every three years, because a new addition to the family has meant our current model is no longer big enough or because we were involved in an accident. Similarly, we may source a sales training provider because we are currently unhappy with our company results, have a young and experienced team or are concerned about high staff attrition within the organisation.
The point is this; if we understand the different contexts which will trigger a search for our type of product or service, we can produce extremely relevant and interesting content for our prospects. This, in turn, will instantly help us to build credibility and trust with a potential customer, engage them by providing value and assist them in feeling like we understand their situation.
Similarly, a website that provides the context of the different purchases, rather than coldly listing products and services will be much ‘stickier’. Faced with different and relevant scenarios, a customer is more likely to identify their situation with one of the options on the site and can then dig deeper to find out more.
We now live in a world where shouting messages at customers is no longer as effective as it once was. Consumers can now access the information they want, at a time of their choosing. It is understanding the trigger which makes them look, at that moment, that is the key to effective marketing today.
Understanding the demography of your client base is fine but understanding the context in which people look for your product or service is dynamite in the Web enabled digital world in which we now all live.
Grant Leboff is a regular Academy speaker and the author of the business books Sales Therapy and Sticky Marketing. He is CEO of www.stickymarketing.com and a Founding Partner of www.stickycommunication.com