Moving from Target Audience to Customer


Every business needs to understand its target customer. The best businesses invest time and energy into developing a deep, granular understanding of that target.

They move beyond “middle aged women” to “married women in their 50’s with no children living at home who live along the East Coast and have a strong interest in gardening, health, and leisure travel.” Etc. They get as detailed as possible.

Define the Groups Within Your Target Audience

With an understanding of the target customer in hand, it is time to start thinking about the many stages that these people can be at in their relationship with you:

  • Unaware
  • Newly aware
  • New customer
  • Seasonal customer
  • Active/engaged customer
  • Best customer
  • Inactive customer

There may be more or fewer categories that are relevant to the relationship you want to build with your target audience. The important thing is to define the various relationship stages that can exist. Then, you can develop targeted communication to engage with people at each stage.

Target Communication Based on the Current Relationship

For each stage, you will want to consider:

  • Are there any characteristics common to people at this stage?
  • What does this person want to know?
  • What motivates this person to move to a more active relationship with me?
  • What information or resources will help this person move to the next stage of a relationship with me?
  • Where does this person get information about me? (Website, social media, email, events, print material, networking, etc.)

After all this research, you are now well positioned to develop messaging for your target audience at every stage. You will know what key points to target, and where and how to share the information.

Relationship Marketing Is Good Business, but Don’t Take it Personally

I’m all about relationship marketing, helping clients to establish effective connections with clients for long-term success. However, I just had an experience that leads me to an important clarification. It’s not necessarily a personal relationship.

Let me explain.

Relationship Marketing Mis-Applied

Comcast recently added service to my neighborhood. Yay! The TV part isn’t exciting, but the 1GB internet speed certainly is. I couldn’t sign up fast enough.

Once the service was installed, my next task was to cancel my Verizon internet and DirecTV services. Verizon was easy. I called and within 5 minutes my account was adjusted.

Then I called DirecTV…

First I dealt with the automated service that, ultimately, needed to pass me on to a person. No problem. When Yolanda came on the phone, she was bright and bubbly. Ok. I told her I wanted to cancel my service.

Yolanda was not happy.

She asked me to clarify. She had me verify my service address at least three times. Thank goodness I know my PIN. After verifying all my details down to my mother’s maiden name, she was silent. Then she put me on hold.

When she came back on the line, she actually asked me “why are you abandoning us?” Really? This wasn’t a personal relationship breakup, it was the end of a contractual relationship. Trying to turn on the interpersonal guilt was silly and not appropriate.

About 15 minutes later, I think I have broken up with AT&T/DirecTV.

Healthy Relationship Marketing for Business

Your business marketing should have a relationship focus. You need to demonstrate to customers that you care about them as much as you want them to care about you. But don’t make the mistake in thinking that these relationships are personal. They are not.

As long as customers need your service they will use you. A good relationship will keep them coming back. At some point they won’t need you anymore. Don’t take it personally, it’s just business.