By Sophy Edmonds.

I read a fascinating article in The Weekend Australian recently, entitled Trump’s Cleverest trick is sounding stupid.

The article claimed Donald Trump has “forged his own Basic English, a blunt, reduced, idiomatic form of speech that is comprehensible to any American with the educational skills of the average 10-year-old.”

Trump’s remarkable success is, they suggest, his ability to engage and communicate with his audience. They may be right.

To market and communicate effectively, organisations must develop a sound understanding of their target audience and their customers. They need to take time to invest in seeing things from the customer perspective. They need to stand in their customers’ shoes.

It seems obvious doesn’t it? But sometimes we find organisations failing in this regard, and for a number of reasons:

  • They may assume they know their customers. If they have some existing understanding they might not recognise the need to look further. Consequently they fail to uncover key decision-making factors such as what’s truly important to customers, as well as their fears and concerns.
  • They don’t fully appreciate the value of audience segmentation (a process which divides people into subgroups based on their similarities according to defined criterion). They may make assumptions or believe customer segmentation limits their ability to manage clients individually.
  • They might bypass important steps in an effort to speed up the planning process.

In the disability and aged care sectors, particularly for those making the transition to consumer-directed care, the shift can be daunting. It can become tempting to sidestep the need to understand customers fully.

But in a competitive environment, when it’s crucial to maximise the return on marketing spend, the segmenting of customers becomes essential to ensure services, communications and messages are targeted and accurate. An in-depth understanding of the customers’ needs is an imperative to carrying out segmenting and operating efficiently.

But if organisations undervalue segmenting they may not give it the time or effort it demands.

Effective segmenting can establish an efficient customer management approach, especially important when an organisation is offering a range of services or products because it:

  • enables targeted promotions
  • identifies the most important customers
  • enables a uniform response to customer needs.

Defining and creating a clear understanding of your target customer segments enables a targeted approach, thereby supporting activities that resonate and engage. As a general rule, consumer segmentation considers:

  • audience demographics, including age, income, education, ethnicity, gender
  • lifestyle influences, for example: values, beliefs, lifestyles, and attitudes.

Usage behaviour is also important. How is the product or service used? When is it used? And how much is it used? Within the organisation itself, considering key business demographics against every service offered is important if it’s to grow and evolve. The size of each service, associated revenue, profitability, staffing, and location all require consideration.

An organisation’s inability to answer important questions in-depth may indicate the need to undertake independent marketing research in order to gather detailed customer responses to wants and needs.

Customer understanding: A case study

A few years ago a Queensland based organisation commissioned us to advise on how they might maintain and grow market share in a changing environment.

We confirmed that some areas of the organisation were seeking out new market opportunities and flourishing. However, others remained locked into one type of service delivery.

Many of their leaders were unable to describe their ideal customer and did not employ processes to segment customers.

We subsequently discovered that their mainstream customer persona was changing, and had been for some time.

Often, organisations promote themselves without first understanding their target customers.

Research and analysis allows ongoing communications campaigns to become much more effective. This is because they’re focused on a clear understanding of the audience, enabling the organisation to adopt the right tone, attend the right events and initiate discussion on topics of crucial importance to customers.

This early step encourages the development of meaningful dialogue and relationships with the target audience.

Picture courtesy of http://bit.ly/1U8UoMy

If you want to explore this topic in more detail, attend our next Pow Wow – a facilitated discussion taking place at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane on 14 July 2016 from 7.00-8.30 am. To register click here.