Knowing your customer is extremely important to success.  One of the first questions needed to be asked is — Who are my customers? The next question is – How do I reach them?  But in the end, ultimately the customer has to decide to buy or not to buy. Reflecting on some principles of marketing should not be lost in today’s big world of what are the latest twists to marketing.

A small business owner, just like the big corporate giants, need to be able to answer fully “Who are my customers.” This requires not only identifying the customer by their traits, knowing their habits and preferences, but understanding the various influences upon them. These principles are just as valuable today as when they first were identified. Your marketing strategies can be designed to impact those influences. We know consumers are influenced from: 

  • Social factors such reference groups, opinion leaders, and family
  • Individual factors such as gender, age, family life cycle stage, personality, self-concept, and lifestyle
  • Cultural factors such as culture and values, subculture, and social class
  • Psychological factors such as perception, motivation, learning, beliefs and attitudes

For example, if your consumer is highly influenced by reference groups, then marketing messages need to be focused on influencing the reference group. If your consumer’s buying decision is significantly influenced by their stage in the family life cycle (FLC) or self-concept, your message should illustrate how the product serves a specific benefit needed at a particular stage in the FLC or fulfills the self-concept. Having the right message aimed at the right target audience is paramount to influencing the consumer’s decision to “buy or not to buy.”

Additionally, a marketer needs to consider the level of involvement in the decision to buy or not to buy. The level of consumer involvement is the amount of time and effort a buyer invests in researching, evaluating, and then deciding to buy or not to buy. Marketers can impact each of the stages of the buying process, by better knowing their customer and the type of involvement the consumer is likely going to be engaged in when considering your product/service to buy or not to buy. Each level requires different strategies.

  • Routine response behavior is a decision made frequently by the consumer (A strategy that utilizes marketing promotions at point-of-sale is important here. Special packaging or creative signage is needed to potentially influence that routine behavior to either switch to your brand to break the pattern or to provide easy recognition so to stay with the learned-repeated behavior desired.)
  • Limited decision-making is a decision made with a moderate amount of time spent by the consumer to gather information and deliberate about the purchase (A strategy that makes the brand more “familiar” feeling is very important.)
  • Extensive decision-making is a complex decision usually associated with very unfamiliar purchases and/or expensive purchases. (A strategy that provides credible information from a variety of sources is important for this type of decision.)

It is so important to know your customer and not to forget the basics of marketing. Your marketing message must be tailored to reach your customer or their influencers effectively. Targeting and identifying your customer can never be forgotten, nor can focusing on what influences them be lost in the shuffle. The heart of strategy can be found within those two first questions: Who are my customers and how do I reach them, not necessarily having the most popular “liked” Facebook post this week or how am I going to add in Instagram to my small business marketing platform when I don’t have any extra time. Ultimately the decision to buy or not to buy is the consumer’s, but the power to positively impact that decision is yours and sometimes is not about all the “bells and whistles.” It may very well come back to basic marketing concepts used to determine marketing strategy! (Image credit: Redbaron |Dreamstime)

Written by: Sabrina Pack, SkyWest Media Professional Marketing Consultant