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Top 40 Business Tips #29: Know Your Customer

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You might think you know your customer, but when did you last check? If you’ve been selling to 50-year-old men they’re a very different beast to someone of the same age ten years ago. As Mark McCrindle puts it, many of them are down-ageing.

You might also be missing the opportunities presented by generational change. By 2020, 42 percent of the workforce will be Gen Y. This is the first generation to have grown up with computers and the internet, says Hugh Mackay.

That means they are less inwardly focused according to Mark McCrindle, particularly with one in four born overseas. As the world’s first global generation Gen Y does not consider geography when making buying decisions.

All this amounts of a more complex range of market segments, making it harder for marketers to understand the population and pitch the right messages to them. Graham Plant says geodemographic tools like Mosaic help you to determine customer behaviour, by overlaying demographic information on top of where people live. It’s one of many sophisticated marketing tools to help you fine-tune your marketing approach.

Irrespective of age or demographics, one fundamental difference between people is whether they are long term or short term focused. Brett Martin calls this the concept of temporal orientation. There’s little point in promoting impulse purchases to someone who has a longer-term focus, for example. It could just be a waste of marketing dollars.

So how do you really get to know your customer? Well you can talk to them — that will give you part of the picture or, as Robert Gerrish suggests, you can study their behaviour.

Whatever you do, don’t assume your customers will always stay the same. People change. Does your company adapt?

First published on CBS News

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