Profiling Customers to Maximize Profits

Most companies struggle to get enough of the right kinds of customers, but what if you could target your advertising and marketing to attract only the kinds of customers you want? Well you can.

One business consultant I know uses the profiling questions of Motivate Everyone to analyze prospective customers and then uses the irresistible language phrases to write his proposal. He closes 90% of proposals. Why? Because he matches his language to the customer's needs. And you can do the same.

So how do you begin? First, you'll want to segment your customers. There are people who buy once, those who buy often, and those who buy often and refer you to all of their friends. Those who buy often and refer you are worth potentially 10 to 100 times more than other customers. Once you know who your frequent buyers and "advocates" are, then you can begin to analyze their motivation style.

Analyze Your Most Valuable Customers

Advocates, more than likely, value relationships and knowledge. They know everyone and will refer you.

Do your frequent buyers and advocates buy:
  1. To move toward pleasure or away from discomfort?
  2. Because they "feel" it's the right choice or because others tell them?
  3. Because they have options and choice, or because it's easy and procedural to buy?
  4. Immediately or after they think about it awhile?
  5. Because the product is the same, improved, or different?

Step into your customer's shoes
I like to step into the customer's shoes and try to answer these questions before I gather any more information. Think about a product or service that you've bought frequently and advocated to your friends. What's your motivation style?

My wife and I frequent Indias, a popular restaurant in Denver. They have a lunch buffet (options) for only $6.95. I love their food (toward). I like it (internal). I tried it the first time because I knew that I liked Indian food (doer). And I go back because it's always a good experience (same) with a new item every so often (different).

If I step into the shoes of someone who buys and recommends our QI Macros software, I get the following "hallucination:" 
"I like them (internal) because they are easy to use and easy to install (away from difficulty and complexity). I like all the choices I have for charts and graphs (options). I had to think about them awhile before I decided to try them (thinker). I like them because they're easier to use than a lot of packages I've seen or tried (improved). And they're in the familiar environment of Excel (same).

Once you've imagined the frequent buyer's profile, you'll want to confirm or enhance it by asking the simple questions in Motivate Everyone. When you've got a customer on the phone, just ask them a question or two: What's important to you about our product? Why is that important? Why did you choose our product? What's the relationship between this product and others you've used? The answers to these questions will start to confirm or refine your understanding of their motivation strategy. When you have enough common elements, then you can tailor your marketing messages to attract more of these kinds of clients.

Tailoring Your Message
Using the language of Motivate Everyone, I could craft messages to appeal to potential advocates: "Haven't you waited long enough to have an easy-to-use, flexible set of tools to handle all of your Six Sigma documentation that runs in the old-familiar environment of Microsoft Excel? Take our risk-free 30 day trial and decide for yourself!"

Start to look at other company's advertising.
Oppenheimer Funds tag line is: "the right way to invest." The "right way" is designed to attract procedural investors, not options-difference, change-all-of-the-time investors.

Outback Steakhouse: No Rules, Just Right. "No rules" is options, and "just right" is procedural. They hit both sides of one motivation style.

Trail Dust Steakhouse: Fresh cuts daily, old favorites nightly. "Fresh cuts" are "new" and "old favorites" are "same." Again, a message that touches two sides of one motivation trait.

Profile Your Customers
So, with just a little bit of inexpensive questioning, you can start to profile your most profitable customers. Then you can tailor your marketing and sales messages to attract more of these kinds of buyers to maximize your profitability, because the big money isn't in the first sale, but in all of the subsequent sales and referrals.

You can also profile the types of customers who take up too much time and energy for the value they bring. (See the Oppenheimer Funds example above.) Then deliberately craft your marketing messages to discourage them from becoming customers.

Test, test, test
Then, with inexpensive small tests, you can test drive some of the new marketing headlines and sales copy to determine how much better you are at attracting the ideal kinds of customers for your business. If you're an internal supplier to your company (e.g., an IT department), you can test drive this kind of language in meetings with prospective internal clients. So have fun. Try out various motivational language patterns in limited ways to find out what kind of response you get. And when you are successful, stick to that pattern. Unless your markets change significantly, these language patterns will work indefinitely.

Profiling Ideal Customers: To get a quick profile of your ideal customer, consider using the Motivation Profile with your current repeat buyers. Have them take it in your store to ensure you get a clear profile. Reward them with a gift certificate. You might consider giving it to a cross-section of customers so that you can discover the key differences between the low and high spenders. Just compare their results. One or two things are usually the keys to higher productivity and profitability. Then you can tune your advertising and marketing to appeal to the high volume, high dollar buyers.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008-2024 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, 888-468-1537, ."