When you first started your business, you probably had your ideal target customers in mind. These were the people who you THOUGHT would patronize your products or services – it suited their lifestyle or preferences and/or solved a problem.
However, as months pass, the buying behaviors of your target customers have probably changed. Whether you didn’t know them well in the beginning (naturally!) or their habits have changed (i.e reduced spending during time of a recession), you will need to spend some time researching and understanding how your customer makes buying decisions.
Here are some of the categories to consider:
- First determine what are the range of ages and the typical gender of your customers. While I know it’s not nice to “stereotype”, you probably have an average that most of your customers fall into and this will help you better understand their buying habits.
- Next review their educational background, average income, employment status and marital status. While these details seem personal, they can help you formulate strategies to attract this group
- For example, someone who purchases their cooking oil based on taste (i.e extra virgin olive oil) rather than cost (i.e corn oil) will probably have a higher income status and reside in upper income communities. Consider offering products and services based on their motivations – why they buy, how often, where they shop, etc.
- Or let’s look at the differences between a buyer who is married with children or single. Due to their different lifestyles, they have different buying behaviors. The busy mom might be more inclined to shop online for convenience while the single buyer in the same income category is more interested in entertainment and travel. Both individuals will probably prefer different brands.
Consider also which form of media they get most of their decision-making information.
- Print newspapers (yes there are many who still use them!
- The internet?
Knowing this will help you target your marketing dollars and campaigns in the right places where they can be easily seen. Consider also micro niches within these categories – the different cable channels, social media and the sections of the paper that will attract more consumers to buy your product or avail of your services.
For example, if most of the people prefer the internet, become an expert with social networking sites, blogs, and web pages that your customers frequent. (And that’s key – make sure it’s where THEY like to go – not you!) If they spend more time in watching TV, what are the television shows and artists that capture their attention? While you might not be ready for big budget prime time television, you can certainly find out about discounts available on local and regional channels for small business ads.
You can collect such information about people by conducting surveys to your customers. It is also advised to put such information in a customer profile so that you will be able to keep track of the patterns of their buying behavior.
Keep in mind that people’s buying behavior also depends on the season or time of the year. For an instance, if you are a clothes shop owner, you should expect people buying more jackets and sweaters when the winter season comes and when the summer is in, people usually look for clothes which are thin and not too tight. School openings also trigger many students to buy clothes they can wear for school, especially those who are in college. Make sure you know these trends and seasons so you will be able to market your product and services accordingly.
Changes of buying behaviors are surely inevitable, but if you really know who your target customers are, you can easily cope up with such changes and keep your business to be smooth sailing.