Let’s play a guessing game. Say you have the opportunity to meet with Jimmy Butler, a star player for the American basketball team the Chicago Bulls. You have five minutes to convince him to be the spokesperson for your store, so you need to basically throw him a five-minute party in his honour. What kind of music would you choose to play to impress him?
Because of the ‘typical’ persona of most professional American basketball players, you might choose some cutting-edge Hip Hop, but you would be extremely wrong, because Mr. Butler is an avowed and unashamed country music fan – and a huge fan of Taylor Swift. And if your mind is boggling now trying to imagine a rich young black American professional athlete jamming out to Taylor Swift, welcome to the first lesson in Why Assumptions Are Bad, Especially when it Comes to Your Customers.
World in Flux
Was there ever a time when you could make certain assumptions about who your target customers are? Maybe. When sex roles and other cultural norms were much more tightly locked down, it might have been possible to assume things and get away with it. But in the modern day that’s no longer possible. Women are increasingly the breadwinners and men are increasingly stay-at-home parents. Big, athletic, macho guys might like Taylor Swift. Adults with advanced degrees might read Young Adult fiction to wind down.
In short, you can no longer be sure who will want your service or product, because old rules about gender and acceptable tastes and roles for people are melting away, and the younger generations especially have little tolerance for it. You cannot be lazy and make assumptions.
So, what’s a better approach? Be more scientific. Throw away visual and superficial features about your ideal customer and ask yourself better questions:
- Why would someone use your products or services?
- Why would they use someone else’s?
- What problems does your product or service solve for your imagined customers?
When you have the answers to these questions, you can begin to ‘reverse engineer’ your approach to finding new customers. Instead of relying on outdated assumptions, you can look for hard data that point you towards the people who are most likely to purchase what you’re offering.
A simple example: Say you sell cleaning products. The assumption might be that young married women are your ideal audience. But, when you do some research, you find that in your market about half of the households have two incomes, and another percentage have the man home with the kids. If you’d followed your assumptions, you would have wasted your time and money on a mailing list that simply won’t work.
Throw away your assumptions and work with facts and data. We can help you build and manage a mailing list that reflects the reality of your market, not an imaginary one that only exists in the past – or in your own head.