“What kind of chair are you?”

I was asked this question a few years ago now, when I started out as a copywriter. Obviously I had never thought of myself as a type of chair before so my answer went something like this “Um… eh… um …I don’t know?…”  This was not the right answer but it wasn’t really the answer that was important, it was how I arrived at the answer that was to be the key to a whole new customer profiling trick.

Up until then I had turned to customer research, market research and questionnaires for customer information but I felt that it didn’t really allow me to personalise my communication.  But now I was being asked to ‘imagine’ the type of chair a customer may have in their home and why.  Strange?  Not so much… by thinking about a customer’s daily life you are building up a picture of them as a person through considering all aspects; family, job, career, leisure time, amount of free time… so on and so forth, that may motivate them to make a buying decision.  It’s almost like the personal aspect equivalent to their demographic and has the aim of understanding the reasons, desires and necessities behind their motives for buying your product.

But unlike demographic grouping, differences in location, age, employment status and income do not necessarily determine a split and therefore a difference.  For example a 29 year old mum of two from Glasgow wants to buy a CD from Amazon, as does a middle aged Managing Director from London.  They both have the same goal but what are their reasons for choosing the method that they did?

You can hazard a well educated guess, perhaps it was the choice, the suggested items or maybe they are time poor or need it delivered.  But to take the hazard out of guessing you need to understand three main things.

  • Why are they coming via the channel they did? (website, catalogue, shop floor, telephone etc.)

  • What can they do when they get there? (browse, ask questions, pick a delivery address, buy similar items etc.)

  • What your goals are from the channel? (to sell, display items, up-sell, cross-sell etc.)

The aim of a customer profile is to understand the purchasing behaviours and motives so you can modify, amend and improve your customers’ experiences whilst offering a product and service that really meets their needs and expectations.

For example, your website customers are likely to be time poor so would not benefit from being sent a catalogue but an email with a simple ‘buy now’ button and product suggestions based on past purchases, viewed items or search terms may be just what they need.  Just like a visitor to your shop may want to see your full product range so would appreciate a catalogue rather than a short, sharp and to the point email.

Similarly, a housewife’s reasons for buying a cleaning product will be different from a bachelor’s, maybe she has children and needs it to be safe and efficient and maybe he just wants no fuss, no frill – just effectiveness.

And going back to the chair analogy, you probably wouldn’t expect a Parker Knoll to download an app or respond to a SMS, just like the chances of a bar stool filling out an order form are pretty slim.

Your job is to use the right means to convey the feature of your product that will most effectively help the ‘profile’ reach its goal whilst you reach yours! – Good Luck…

Obviously I won’t just leave you hanging on that note, if you want any more information on profiling then just get in touch; we can help you set goals, determine profiles and then make them meet in the middle.

Next week I will look at how to compile a questionnaire that gets you the answers that you want and need to tailor your product to a customer’s requirements.

Personalisation through Customer Profiling

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