Does Marketing really know thy customer?
One of the greatest challenges for Marketers is the study of the complicated Human Being.
Whilst we spend so much time, effort and resources into investigating customer behaviour through scientific studies, trials and extensive market research, we continue to find that the human consumer is not as simple as most text books and 'gurus' lead us to believe.
So, how can you get to know your customer better to improve your marketing efforts?
Who are we?
As humans, we are quite irrational and instinctive when it comes to our decision making and purchase behaviour.
We all take significant influences from countless sources, most of which we aren't even aware of. Even with advanced learning and AI today, it's still very hard to map out and predict how people will behave when interacting with our marketing efforts.
Getting to truly understand your customer really makes a difference with it comes to your copywriting, content creation and marketing if you want to see results.
So I have attempted to summarise a few basic outlines of consumer behaviour and psychology, to assist marketers appreciate the complexity of their target consumer. An improved understanding of what is going on in each consumer’s “black box” will help sharpen communication campaigns and marketing strategies, as patterns of behaviour can be more understood and therefore better catered to.
(1) Real Decisions Are Based On Emotion
Consumers base most, if not all of their instinctual decisions on their emotional state, and far less on logical checklists at first.
This is why branding and product positioning can be so effective: if you can appeal to a consumer's emotional needs and then offer them a solution, it becomes highly attractive to them.
(2) Consumers Will Substantiate Their Emotional Decision Using Facts
After a consumer receives a favourable emotional bond with a product and desires it, the logical side finally kicks in.
A consumer will automatically grow wary of this emotional 'pull' and will not validate a purchase simply based on this feeling - so they will search for solid facts that will help them justify their initial need.
This is why marketers must provide easily accessible factual information to consumers after hitting the emotional button.
(3) Consumers Crave Value
Not to be confused exclusively with a monetary figure, value is relative to each person, and basically represents the consumer's perceived benefit, minus all costs involved. This incorporates time, inconvenience, money, cost of substitutes and so forth.
A successful product is one where the consumer is shown enough information for them to evaluate that the benefits of their purchase is at least equal, if not far outweighed by the costs of consumption.
(4) Humans Are 'Humanistic'
Sounds funny, but it's true!
Basically, human thought processes are strongest when relating to social interaction with other people. Therefore, marketing messages that are personally relatable to the target audience by using names, real situations, past experiences or quotes will be more meaningful.
(5) Ultimate Free Will
Whilst marketing campaigns can be extremely compelling, it is important to appreciate that people can never be forced to behave in a specific way: sometimes, even when all the boxes are ticked, a consumer may still behave unexpectedly.
Therefore, the most basic of marketing principles holds true here: make your product offering as appealing and valuable to your target audience as possible and then you've given yourself the best opportunity for success.
(6) People Enjoy Purchasing
People absolutely love discovering new products and technologies, and get a thrill from curiosity and ownership.
This is because they look for products that appeal to them on an emotional level, and therefore, a level of satisfaction is achieved when a purchase is made (you've heard of the term retail therapy, right?).
A successful product should add to this feeling of ecstasy, and not sour the experience through inconvenience or creating buyer's remorse.
(7) People Are Sceptical
Years of consumerism has ingrained a natural suspicion in the average person these days- and rightly so.
Therefore, marketing efforts need to focus more on assisting and providing the right information, rather than persuading and pushing people into a purchase. A good marketing campaign aims to reassure the target market, not repulse or fear them. This is where content marketing shines.
(8) Insatiable Emotional Desires
Humans constantly manifest strong emotional needs when they are naturally dissatisfied with their current state for whatever reason. They will then go hunting for solutions.
Related to a few of the earlier points, products which get in touch with their emotional target audience and appeal to these cravings will attract their attention.
(9) Consumers Love Convenience
In today's electronic age where everything is available online and extremely fast, consumers will gravitate to the easiest method of acquisition- this relates to the value proposition and how much energy it takes to obtain the good, versus the benefit.
If a product is convenient, consumers view the cost as lower and therefore the value as higher.
If it's an exclusive or rare product available only in limited locations, then the appeal of exclusivity and individuality must outweigh the need for convenience for the target audience.
(10) Tangible Sampling
People appreciate the chance to examine the product, risk free, before purchasing.
Samples and free trials are a great way to create a positive, risk-free experience for the consumer and build trust to encourage their purchasing behaviour.
(11) Peer Pressure
Peer pressure and 'group think' effects are prominent with people within society; especially one that is so connected with social media. Humans take into account a lot of external judgement when making purchasing decisions.
Additionally, a lot of our decisions can reflect how we think others will perceive us. This is why testimonials and messaging that focus on crowd impressions are effective.
The Shift Towards Empathetic Marketing
These above insights are just a few factors of consumer behaviour that I have studied and observed as a Marketing Professional.
The field of psychology is extremely complex, substantial and constantly evolving, however there is merit in attempting to rationalise a target consumer's behaviour so that an effective marketing campaign can be developed.
Breaking down consumer behaviour highlights a common theme in a lot of marketing efforts: a lack of empathy.
The best way to devise the most effective way to communicate with an audience is to exercise a sense of empathy: put yourself into their shoes and ask yourself how you would react if you were shown your own campaign.
This sounds extremely simple, however we continue to see businesses consistently rolling out expensive marketing campaigns which have little to no real appeal to their customer, and instead rely on frustrating repetition to get any sort of traction.
Don't just do marketing because you can; really consider of all of the complex humans you are trying to connect with as that will produce more powerful results.
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