Saturday, October 24, 2015

Back to Basics: How to relate to your customers in today's world


Do you know if your content is resonating with your audience? Do you know who exists in your audience? Do you use Buyer Personas to build targeted content? If so, how do you build those personas?

Personalized, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important moving into 2016 and beyond. Building strong relationships with your customers will become more important in this ever diversified digital world. This is not new, it's just something we haven't been doing a great job at.

Getting back to basics

The Furrow is a magazine about agriculture, farming and any other topic that is relevant and interesting to the average farmer. John Deere first produced this content in 1895. You could say
that this is this first piece of content marketing (that we can reference anyway) and still exists today. 
John Deere started his company by listening and understanding his customers. John was able to talk to his customers face-to-face to hear their struggles and build products that suited their needs. John passed away before The Furrow was first published, but it is based on his legacy of understanding your customers and providing them with information suited to their interests and needs.
In today's world, we don't have the opportunity to interact with each of our customers face-to-face. Our customers are more diverse and unique than ever before, they are not located down the road from you, they are spread out all over the country or world. So, how do we create a customer experience that is unique and personalized?
Buyer Personas are not a new concept, but how we build them is. You likely use personas to create your Marketing strategies and plan your content. But how are you defining these target segments?

Let's talk about demographic targeting

Who is your target market? Way back, you may have defined it as "Females aged 18-49". In the 80's, Marketers realized this wasn't enough and introduced 'Generational Targeting', defining consumers not just by age, but also by social, economic, demographic and psychographic factors. Then 'Cohort targeting', which was centered around the life path of a target segment. We seemed to have stopped the evolution of targeting there, for the most part.
With all of the complex data and information about consumers that we have today, why are we still basing targeting around simple demographics like age, location, gender, income? It's so common to hear a market defined as "Females aged 18-24, who attend College and love beauty products". Ok, so that's more complex than just demo's, but one girl attending college aged 23 who wears makeup may be the MVP of the Basketball team and really into EDM and the bar scene. While, another 23-year-old girl attending the same college who wears makeup is First Chair Cellist in the school orchestra and is interested in Yo-yo's (my kinda girl).  I'm sure you are getting my drift here.
It is a Buyer's market. Today's consumers are more informed than ever before. They could know more about your company and product than your frontline sales people do. They are sophisticated and demanding (rightfully so). Today's buyers (not just limited to Millenials), don't want to be lumped into a category that a Marketing team came up with based on past customer data and opinions. They want to feel understood, they want to be delighted, they want to trust you.
Today's consumers are not demographics, they are people. They are individuals with diverse interests and they demand more from you.

Defining target market by interest profiles

It is not realistic to think that a company today can market face-to-face or even one-to-one to ALL of their customers. The availability of complex data and information, however, gets us closer to offering a 'one-on-one' experience. At Affinio, we believe that target markets can't be limited by a stagnant description of an audience based on demographics. We believe in understanding your customer through what they are interested in, no matter their age, allowing you to understand the diverse Buyer Personas that exist within your audience and understanding them through what they are interested in and care about most.
Winter is coming (ughh) and that means technical apparel to keep you warm - at least it does here in Canada. We're big fans of Patagonia here at Affinio, so we wanted to take a peek at who the other Patagonia fans are. For this, we used the Affinio Platform to analyze the social connections that exist within Patagonia's twitter audience, segmented the members into Tribes of people with similar interests, then were able to understand Patagonia's fans on a more personal level.

Visualization of Patagonia's audience

Not surprisingly, a lot of these communities are centered around sports and adventure. Notice, however, that people that may have been traditionally grouped together in a "US Male adventurists, aged 30-45", are broken out into many tribes. These are not pre-defined interest categories. They are unsupervised, naturally formed clusters based on what else and who else Patagonia's followers follow. Let's look at a few examples of these tribes.

After reviewing these examples of interest-based tribe summaries, would you market to these people in the same way? Do you think that the 'Runners' use Patagonia gear in the same way that the 'Fishers' do? Do you think that all people that exist within the 'Runner' tribe are a similar age or gender? Maybe, but why would we limit ourselves to that when we can relate to these people based on their interests and what they care about most. 
Demographics are not People. Interests are a better way to understand who your individual customers are and what they care about most. Once you understand this, you are better able to connect with your customer segments through personalization leading to your customers feeling better understood and resulting in a trusting relationship. 

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