Inspired Marketing Insights: The Rumors Are True…
Mass media is dead.
Well, it’s mostly dead.
It’s definitely on life support.
What does this mean to business owners? It means that the days of blasting out TV/radio ads, print ads, mailers, and generic emails are long gone.
Do these things work? Of course they do. But not for the reasons people think.
The market has recognized what has always been true – there simply is no “mass” audience. Mass marketing brings results today because companies are spending a lot of time and money hitting a big area to reach a small target. It works but it’s not efficient.
Every member of the consuming public, from the tween girl gushing over the newest Taylor Swift song to the high-powered CEO reading the Financial Times, is unique.
The good news is that you don’t have to match each demographic perfectly. You can create marketing buckets to categorize your audiences.
To help sort through the wide and varied world, the marketing industry has created two exceptionally useful tools – customer persona & buyer modalities.
Over the past several years many companies have recognized that, in order to effectively target their customers, they need to know who their customer is.
A very effective way to get useful information from mountains of demographic data is by creating customer personas.
To illustrate personas, let us introduce you to Jill. She is a well-educated and confident woman, “soccer mom”, who makes the majority of the daily buying decisions.
She’s overwhelmed by technological jargon and choices. Jill is also the brainchild of Best Buy. She was created specifically to serve as a model for how they interact with their customers. Best Buy was so committed to Jill that in 2005, when they launched this concept, they pioneered a store designed just for her. The result? Increasing same store revenue by over 30%.
By turning a consumer demographic into a customer persona, Best Buy was able to convert data into revenue.
Modalities are a relatively new concept and are explored in a book called “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark” by Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.
In essence, buyer modalities take customer personas a step further. Where customer personas focus on turning demographic data into a customer story, a buyer modality focuses on building templates of common behavioral and thought patterns.
One particularly telling anecdote from the book is from a consultant who worked with Home Shopping Network (HSN). HSN believed their best customer base was women ages 55 and older. Deciding to validate this, the consultant conducted a deep dive analysis only to discover that of their “best customer” population over 20% of them were under age 30!
The correlation between women over 55 and people under 30? They both had money and both watched a lot of television. (Waiting for Your Cat to Bark, pg. 109).
But more than just behavior like this, looking at buyer modalities provides opportunities for business owners to connect to multiple types of people in the same setting.
One common (and highly useful) approach to creating buyer modalities is to focus on the decision-making processes for your customers.
In a separate book by Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg called “Call to Action”, they outline four buying modalities based on the decision-making process.
Which One Is Better?
Customer personas provide an opportunity for your business to put a face and a name to a demographic segment. To tell a story about that person. To figure out what they value most. Customer personas make it possible to write highly targeted, compelling advertising based on the values of the hypothetical person.
Buyer modalities create space to cut across demographics and provide opportunities to address commonalities in the way people think, behave, and value things.
Blending these two approaches, it becomes easier to see the wide variety of people there are to address. Instead of just Jill, now you have Methodical Jill or Spontaneous Jill. Each of these women wants to be served in different ways.
This creates the opportunity to provide a powerfully personalized experience for your customers. One that can increase the probability of improving conversion rates for your sales and marketing activities.
All of this remains lovely marketing theory if you do nothing with it.
Since it can be a complicated process, we recommend starting with the following questions:
- Which are your best customers? Why are they your best customers?
- In what ways are they similar to each other? How can they be bucketed? (Be specific)
- Thinking about your customers, which buyer modality do they most commonly fall into?
Using these questions, map out the characteristics of your desired customers and build their personas.
Here’s an example. You own a HVAC company and deal with both general consumers and business owners. The business owners are probably your best customers because they provide stable cash flow for service & maintenance.
And let’s say within the business community you work with a lot of restaurants. In fact, you have a good understanding of their business and find them easy to work with so you’d like more of them.
Digging into this segment, you identify the following common traits among your restaurant customers:
- Owner operated
- Primarily married couples in their 40s who are reinventing themselves
- Very cost conscious
- Worried about reliability of their systems
You can even go further with the information about your preferred customers (Do they have kids? What are their long-term goals?), but this is a good place to begin.
Once you understand who the prime prospects are, it becomes easier to craft marketing and sales approaches that fit their situation in life. Email marketing may include images of a couple working together in a restaurant. It may speak to the long-term value your company provides by ensuring reliability of service.
You can leverage your understanding of the ways the buyer modalities impact how your potential customers make decisions. By taking this into account, you can ensure that your marketing and advertising copy speaks to these different types of decision makers.
Referring back to our HVAC example, the methodical decision makers would appreciate seeing a short case study on how regular service saved customer 30% on annual maintenance and repair costs. Whereas a humanistic decision maker would like to know that you’re currently working with six other restaurants just like theirs.
What does this mean for Inspire clients?
A new year means new plans. With 2015 just around the corner, we recommend including this exercise in your annual marketing planning.
Even if you have customer personas already created, we recommend re-evaluating them on a regular basis. As time goes on demographics shift and the value of certain populations can diminish as they reflect less of your business over time.
If you’re currently under an open-ended marketing engagement with us, we’ll be conducting this with you as part of your 2015 marketing planning.
If you’re not, make sure you allocate time to do this. It’s not just an academic exercise for its own sake. It can save you a lot of time and money in the long run by giving your sales and marketing activities a strong focus.