Top 5 Customer Types and How to Market to Them
Today’s customer has a lot of control and influence over a business’ success. But when you say “customer,” who comes to mind? Maybe you're thinking about the person researching products and services via your company website. Or the loyal repeat buyer. Or the person who gave you a try for the first time last week. Or maybe you’re thinking about the person that used to buy quite often but hasn’t been back in over six months.
There are a lot of marketers who, instead of focusing on specific customer profiles, are focusing on features and benefits and the key attributes of their products or services that might resonate to gain mind-share. But to achieve true customer engagement—the type of engagement that companies will care about in the long-run—there is more discipline and analysis to it than that. It starts by defining and understanding which audience segment you are really talking about and the opportunity that lies ahead to create true value exchange—the value proposition for the customer and value for your company.
Here are five top-line customer types and the opportunities that exist to truly engage them and move them through their lifecycles:
Suspects: You might think of these individuals as the customers who aren’t even aware yet how much they need your product or service. Even before someone becomes a prospect, there are individuals that can be identified to have a need (or are about to have a need if you are talking in terms of life events), but might not be aware of your brand or product. Or, they are aware, but haven’t been in contact yet.
• Opportunity: Be clear about your value proposition so the right audiences can easily find out about you and understand how your solutions fit into their life.
Prospects: The No. 1 target of our acquisition efforts, prospects are known and by this point are typically either in contact with a sales representative of the company or in some other way have reached out to learn more about your brand and products.
• Opportunity: Support them. Be there to provide relevant information, answer questions, and facilitate a purchase. It’s not about selling; it’s about helping them buy.
New Customers: In my experience, these are the customers who are most praised but then quickly forgotten. The sale was made, but the work is not done. If you think of any good relationship, you know the first few months are often spent getting to know more about each other, finding out what else you like, taking care of each other, finding ways to remind each other of the things that were so attractive in the first place. It’s no different for these customers.
• Opportunity: Successfully onboard new customers during this critical time to reinforce their purchase, find out what other needs exist and extend the engagement.
Repeat Customers: They are continuing to purchase your product and maybe by this time they have tried other products. The key here is to understand what’s driving their purchase. These customers may appear to be loyal, but their behavior might be habitual more than anything else, which is good to your bottom line, but could easily change if another brand, product or offer is introduced.
• Opportunity: Know your customers, leverage the insight and understanding gained along the way to react when behaviors or needs change and continue to demonstrate the value you bring to their life (be it their job, family, business, lifestyle).
Advocates: It’s important to understand how your current advocates arrived at their passionate support for your products so you can go recruit more. These customers have an emotional connection with the brand, trust in the company’s products and employees to support them and will personally recommend you to others. They are also more likely to be in it for the long haul and have a willingness to provide invaluable feedback about your product, good or bad, as long as they see their input being valued in some way.
• Opportunity: Make sure you understand who your advocates are. Recognize and reward them so they stick around, and learn from them. Why, in their words, is life better because of your product?
The customer lifecycle is a beautiful thing, helping to identify where engagement with a customer is possible and maximizing opportunities to truly gain trust and delight a customer. Those “customers” are important at every stage, but the goal and strategy are different to identify where trust and advocacy are possible, the key to long-term success.
So the next time someone asks you who your customers are, pause for a moment. Remind yourself that your customer base is comprised of a treasure-trove of individuals at various stages of knowledge and engagement with your company. It’s a great way to redefine old thinking about “customers” and work on the marketing lifecycle to cultivate those who not only buy your product, but who know the value it brings to their lives and who share that sentiment with others. Now, go get ‘em.
Kim Perila is the director of strategy & planning for Bridgz Marketing Group, where she leverages data and market insight to design communications programs that achieve optimum customer engagement. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.