I came across this article about the “Ten things you need to know about your customers,” and I thought I’d give you my critique about this, based on my experience selling products on the internet.

This was a great little article, and I thought it was useful. But I don’t always agree with everything that they say. The reason is that a lot of these rules apply to big companies, and not to “small businesses,” like the one that I run.

First of all, a lot of what is said in this article is targeted at companies that sell to businesses. To be honest, I don’t think it is useful to have the mindset that you are selling to a business. You’re selling to a person in the business. This is important, because your sales pitch has to be targeted to the person with the final authority to make the purchase. Businesses don’t make purchasing decisions, people do.

1. Who they are: Demographics

This is the stuff that everyone tells you to collect, such as: gender, age, race, where they live, how many children they have. Unfortunately, for small businesses, it is difficult to record, store, and analyze this information. And in my case, being that I’m in the age of global internet sales, knowing where someone lives is not really useful.

And in reality, the only real purpose of this information is to target your marketing efforts. For example, if you wanted to buy a magazine advertisement, you would probably use this information to target which one to pick to hit the people that are similar to your best customers.

If you have time and money available, you should probably record this stuff. But if you’re running a small company, save your money and invest it in software that can be expanded later to include this type of stuff.

2. What they do

What is their occupation? This would be good to know if you were selling a really specialized item, like medical equipment. Then obviously, you’d want to know that your customer was a doctor. But if you’re selling a generic item, this isn’t as useful.

However, there is one really important thing that a person’s occupation does tell you. Or at least it is a very strong indicator of something extremely important. And that is a person’s personality. People choose their occupation based on how well it fits there personality. For example, an active person would probably want to work in a job that constantly changed from day to day. Maybe working with animals or outdoors where the scenery changed (construction). By knowing their occupation, you can often work backwards and find out what type of personality they have. We’ll talk about this more further on in this article.

3. Why they buy

This is important, as when you know why they buy, you can more easily match them to the right product or service that meets their needs.

For at least a decade, I’ve been asking customers why they bought from me. And really, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few core reasons (at least for the products that I’m selling). However, there is a quicker way to determine why they buy than doing a survey that is costly and time consuming and is just as accurate. That way is through personality marketing. In reality, people buy things to match their personality; so if you know what personality they have, you should be able to figure out why they are buying your product. This is probably the most important thing you can know and record, so I recommend that you do it.

4. When they buy

Most products and services have a season. Even doctors have a busy season – You’ve probably heard about it. It’s called the Flu season. You have to know your products season, and this is pretty easy to determine. Just look at your monthly sales reports. Unless of course, you aren’t very good at accounting. In that case, you’ve got bigger problems that knowing this much detail about your customers. You need to get that accounting problem fixed before you can go on to this level of marketing.

5. How they buy

The article mentioned that some people prefer to buy face-to-face, while others prefer to go online. I sell strictly online, which is why I don’t have this one high on my list of important things to know about my customers. But you may be in an industry where you have to send out salesmen to actually do face-to-face selling (such as the MLM cosmetic’s industry).

I also look at how people pay. I prefer cash. But that is so inconvenient to most people. So my next preference is that they pay by credit card. There are other alternatives too (besides checks). Some people will pay by paypal. The reason is that they consider these alternatives as “fun money.” They got the money by selling something on ebay or one of the other auction sites, and they don’t count on it for paying their monthly bills. So they will be more impulsive in how they spend it.

6. How much money they have

Think about this one… Do you really care how much money someone has as long as they can pay for what they ordered? And how do you really track this anyway?

To me, this is a waste of time to record. And beside, so many people are so far into debt and yet they still have the appearance of having a lot of money. But they are actually already broke. And yet, that doesn’t keep them from buying your products and services. As long as they pay, I don’t really care what their bank account looks like. That is their business, not mine.

But of course, if you are selling financial services, such as how to get out of debt, then this may be very important to you. So I left this in my list, just in case this might apply to you.

7. What makes them feel good about buying

This is critically important, because people buy more for emotional reasons than they do for logical ones. But how do you really track this one? In my mind, this one is very similar to #3 listed above. You really have to understand how to use personality marketing to make this work. And then you’ll see some really big increases in sales, because you’ll be able to sell to the prospect in the way that they want to be sold.

8. What they expect of you

I don’t know why you’d even bother to track this, or why it was in the article about “things to know about your customers.” Obviously every customer wants you to feel empathetic towards them and to offer great and speedy service. Duh!

9. What they think about you

Again, this is a weird thing to track. If they don’t like you, they’re probably not buying from you.

And why wouldn’t they like you? Probably because you don’t understand them completely. This is a big personality marketing strategy as well. You want to feed them the stuff that they want to hear, so that they will feel that you have similar values to what they have.

10. What they think about your competitors

This is not something that I’d associate with a particular customer. In other words, it probably isn’t likely that you’d put it into the customer’s database file. You’d put it in your competitor’s file.

Personality Marketing? What is that?

I made quite a few references to Personality Marketing, and I feel I owe you an explanation. It is a unique and different approach to marketing and selling that starts with that one step that others jump right over. That step is to KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS.

And that is more than just the 10 things that are listed in this article. I mean to truly know your customer like you know your close friends and your family members.

This sounds really hard, doesn’t it. But in actuality, all we really need to know is their core values. With that, we can predict how they will react in different buying situations. Just think of the advantages this would give your business. You can close more sales in a quicker amount of time, because you truly understand what motivates them.

If this sounds intriguing to you, check out my other web site, called http://CustomerSecrets.com. It is taking shape, and I’m getting close to finally releasing the product that I’ve named: The Personality Marketing Manual. It will guide you through the process of understanding what makes your customers tick, and then how to set up situations where they trust you and want to buy from you.

I’m really interested in your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment on this blog entry now.

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