Your Customer: Who They Really Are and What They Really Want

Posted February 15, 2017 by caperion

When identifying your audience segments the first thought that probably comes to mind is demographic information: age, income, education, etc. but quality segments should be made up of more than simple data points because they represent real people with real thoughts and feelings. When trying to get to the core of your target audience segments there are three points to keep in mind:

  1. Customers don’t behave the way they are supposed to and will not always fit into the segmentation profiles we design of them. Don’t make assumptions and always rely on your research.
  2. To understand consumers, you need to operate the way they think.
  3. Demographic characteristics are a good starting point, but if you have the resources, try to understand WHY they buy and what they’re trying to ACCOMPLISH. Focus groups and personal interviews can help.


Once you’ve identified your audience segments, you need to understand what it is your customer needs from you. To do this, think of your customers’ needs in terms of “jobs to be done” and keep these points in mind:

  1. Try to understand the situation that would cause a consumer to buy, their motivation, and the outcome they’re expecting of you.
  2. Don’t automatically jump to the solution; focus on the need. It’s helpful to think of needs in terms of verbs, rather than nouns. If a child’s ball is stuck in a tree, do they need a stick to poke it or do they really just need to get their ball down?

When you focus on the need instead of the solution, you’ll be able to identify new options and competitors you might not have otherwise considered.


Once you understand what it is your customers need from you, it’s time to make sure you’re actually delivering. As Peter Drucker said, “The customer rarely buys what the business think it sells him.” Walk through the consumer consumption chain—awareness of need, search for solution, selection of provider, service delivery and payment—and take a look at what each step of that process looks like for your consumer.


Evaluation is a recurring process when it comes to marketing, and looking into your audience segmentation, customer need and company offerings isn’t a one-and-done job. Continue to dig deep and make changes as needed; you may be surprised at what you find.


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