KYC: Know Your Customer


Successful marketing has evolved a lot over the past century. Simple “buy me” techniques and slick used car salesman pitches no longer work – and in fact, they never really worked properly in the first place. Today’s marketing is all about understanding the consumer and getting them to identify with not only your product or service, but with your company itself. Once you take the time to figure out your client’s wants, beliefs and who she/he identifies with, you’ll be well on your way to a productive marketing campaign.

What I want

Everyone wants something. From everyday hungers and needs, to wishing you had a new job, career or a car – there are hundreds of desires that cross the mind daily. Some of these are basic needs – hunger, thirst, sleep; some are material – that pretty dress in the window, a cell phone or a bigger home; and some are immaterial – feeling better about yourself, being healthier or being more confident. The idea is to discover what your customers want, and show them how your product or service will help them achieve that goal.

To compose the correct message for your marketing campaign, you first need to look at your product or service. Those that fill the basic needs are simple – but those that deal with other products are services can be a bit complicated. For example, we’ll look at a used book store. It doesn’t fill any of the basic needs – or does it? Sleep is a basic need, and many read a book before bedtime to relax before they crawl into bed. We need to develop a message that hits that basic need – and “Pick up a book, relax before bedtime” is an excellent way of doing that.

One other example – an arborist, or someone who takes care of trees. That may not seem like a service that can fulfill a basic need; but we all need a house over our head, right? The targeted message for this type of business could be, “Worried about that large tree near your home? We can inspect it to ensure that it isn’t in danger of falling.” Again, the idea is to customize your advertising so that it fulfills a need – the more basic, the better.

Who I am

We all identify with certain groups in our lives – usually more than one. One person can identify with being a woman; being in the work force; being an environmentalist (being “green”); and animal lovers, all at once. These are commonly called “tribes” – and we all belong to one or the other. The question is, which tribe would most likely identify with your product and service, and which would be more likely to purchase?

Again, the message needs to be tailored, and specific – we’ve already determined that a generic statement like “buy our books” or “use our tree service” doesn’t work. The book store is simple – we need to identify with readers. But there are many different kinds of readers out there; those that enjoy genre fiction, like sci-fi/fantasy or mystery; those that read history books; or those that love a good autobiography. The more customized and unique the message, the better. If you want to boost the sales of your history books, a message like “we have many popular historical authors in stock” would work very well.

As for the arborist, you need to identify with a homeowner that lives on property (as they are more likely to have many trees that need to be taken care of), and one that is not comfortable with taking down trees themselves. An excellent way of positioning your message would be to new homeowners – perhaps even those recently transplanted from the city. “Not sure if that tree near your home is dead? Give us a call!”

What I believe

Just like we all have wants and tribes, everyone has a belief system. The obvious ones are religious beliefs – but there are other ones as well. Do you believe that pets are just as important family members as humans? Or do you believe in leaving as little footprint as possible? Each one of us makes decisions – big ones, and the ones that we don’t think about – all based on our belief system. Your advertising message needs to take those beliefs into consideration.

Our bookstore could target pet owners, and mention that they just received a very good book on training your dog; or dealing with the stress of losing a pet to “Rainbow Bridge.” The arborist could promote the idea of being “green,” by using cut timber from your acreage to burn over the winter.

If you are able to come up with a message that uses all three methods – desire, identification and belief – you will have a better understanding of your customers and what drives them, which will result in a successful marketing campaign.