When you ask a business owner or managing director at whom they are directing their products or services, it often becomes quite evident that there is not a clear picture in their mind’s eye. In fact, in most cases, it’s positively fuzzy. Yet when you are not clear on the “who” then it becomes very difficult to develop an effective communication and, as a result, your entire marketing campaign will be less impactful.

To illustrate the point, let’s imagine that you have been invited to a formal business function and form a part of a table of ten. There are four people you know and five that you have never met. You are the last to arrive at the table and so take up the final place. In this situation, I would imagine that:

  • When you first greet the people you recognise, you would instinctively re-establish the acquaintance. This would involve referring back to what you already know about the person and then catch up during the course of the function.
  • When you introduce yourself to the other people at the table you would perhaps indicate the company you work for and your role within the company. You would express it in a positive manner and it would be a more general discussion. You would listen to the individual introductions of the others at the table and base any further conversation on this.
  • Over the course of the function, you would identify individuals that you would like to retain on your business network and those you want to add to your business network. There would be individuals that you interacted with that you have no plans to continue a relationship with after the function.

So, when interacting with people on this basis, you would automatically segment the group of ten, and adjust your behaviour (and how you communicate with them) accordingly. A similar logic applies to your market. You should be able to:

  • Identify the current customers of the business
  • Identify the 20% that comprise 80% of your turnover
  • Identify the characteristics of your BEST customers. What makes you link these attributes to them?
  • Talk to the best customers and ask them about the attributes they associate with the company, its products and/or service.
  • Look at the balance of the customers and answer the question, “If these attributes define my best customers, which of these other customers share these attributes?” These customers should then be targeted for additional business.
  • Look at the remaining customers and answer the question, `What is it about these customers that I don’t like? What attributes do I associate with these customers?’

Distill all you have learnt into a more focused message for the broader market. While the objective should always be to create a positive message, you can still style a message that is less likely to appeal to the `bad’ customer.

You can then take the essence of this communication and tweak it, recognising the relationship already established, for current customers.

Positioning your product or services in a way that is relevant to your market requires that you take the time to get to know them and how they see you. People do business with people, so it is not just about what you offer, it’s about the way they feel when they do business with you and whether you share common values. If you want to build a stronger relationship with the market you are working in, you have to get to know and understand it.

By: Karren Hodgkins

Managing Director / Brand Strategist