The human mind is anything but simple. But the mind is where marketing happens for you and your customers. So in order to effectively market your products and your company, you will need an insightful understanding of the minds of your customers.
In our Executive Mentoring programs we study the demographics of your target markets so that we are able to quantify and understand the objective, and characteristics that are important to you. But capturing that information is only half of the equation.
After we have looked at the statistical data, we turn our attention to subjective data: psychographics. We investigate people’s mental characteristics; specifically their perceptions, expectations, and conscious and unconscious decision making.
Psychographics are the mental characteristics that typify the people in markets and market segments; specifically, their self-perceptions, their drives, their perceptions and expectations of the world around them, and their emotional associations.
The good news is that uncovering this information is fascinating, and you will enjoy the discoveries and insights you develop about your customers and yourself. The bad news is that many business owners are resistant to doing this kind of critical research, and they can potentially miss out on the powerful insights into the human natures of their target markets that the psychographic data will give them.
I had a client, a veterinarian who also owned a small vet supply distributorship. He knew the demographics of his most typical customer, and that part of it was a breeze for him. But when we got to the psychographics, his initial response was: “Why is this important? I am not a psychiatrist, and I really have no interest in getting inside their heads.”
I explained that many large companies spend thousands of dollars to develop marketing strategies like the one he was building himself and that a large part of a corporate budget went towards market research. Psychographics information is a major piece and missing part of that puzzle. I asked him if any of his suppliers (major feed and drug companies) ever contacted him over the years with questionnaires or surveys to respond to. He said, yes, but he never responded. He always thought they were a waste of time.
We continued with the marketing processes, but he made it clear that he was not interested in doing the psychographic research. He did not see the value. I knew it was important, but he did not see that yet. So, I asked him instead to simply trust his intuition and give it a try. He had been in business for 20 years; he knew his customers pretty well and he could make some educated decisions about them. I suggested that he just fill out the worksheets based on what he felt he knew about these people.
And that’s just what he did. He started to work out the psychographics of his customers. As he worked through it, he began to change his mind about the value of it. In fact, he became intrigued and started to think outside the box. So he decided to write one of his vet product suppliers, all the letter said was, “I would like to know if you have a ‘Psychographics Model’ for dairy farms with 100 cows or more. Thank you for your help.”
He came to our next meeting with a response from the manufacturer. In their cover letter to him, they apologized that their Psychographic Model was based on farms of 500 cows or more, but they hoped it helped. It was followed by three pages of information they compiled on the needs of his most typical clients- their self-perceptions, beliefs, needs, fears, and wants. He was stunned!
The most dramatic impact was that the model he had created, based on his own experience in the beginning, was in complete alignment with the descriptions he got back from the manufacturer, who had spent thousands of dollars in their research.
From that point on, not only did he have renewed faith in the power of market research, but he believed in himself. He truly saw the power he had locked away, and his ability to develop a great marketing strategy for his clients, based on what he “did not know he knew”. He put some new systems into place to start intentionally capturing psychographic and demographic data. He has since been able to even better align his marketing strategy using this solid information and insight.
The Power in Understanding
There is a logic to successful marketing. It begins with demographic information about your markets and your customers. But information is not enough. What you are really after is understanding and insight – understanding about the way your customers and prospective customers think, act, and make decisions, as well as insight into what really motivates them and how best to communicate with them.
Do not overlook the importance of psychographic research. As my veterinary client realized, there is great power in understanding what makes your clients “tick” and it is there for you to discover.