Customers and Custom

Be careful to distinguish between customers and custom. Many companies describe their business in terms of market share. Market share, however, is a measure of custom rather than customers: a business that has 20% of the market may get business from 30% of customers in that market but because not all the customers buy the same brand every time, it averages out at 20%.

This is why promotions are not good at winning customers in any permanent sense: all they really do is let you bring the tide in towards your brand when you are promoting but leave you watching it go out to your competitors when their promotion starts.

Know That Your Consumer Knows You

Whenever we work on B2B projects we find that our clients are often surprised by how much their customers know about them - things like changes in ownership structure, or re-financing, or HR issues that the client assumes have been kept under the radar but, more often than not, are well-known by the customers. It’s worth remembering that these customers have a vested interest in the success of their suppliers. Good suppliers make their jobs easier and often make them look better in the eyes of their customers. So, apart from the very human interest in ‘shop talk’, your customers will want to keep an eye on you and maybe the best response is to keep your door open rather than pulling the curtains shut. [Link]

Avoid the bullseye

The Republic of Ireland has fewer people than Yorkshire but there are still lots of marketing campaigns in Ireland that set about defining their target market with very tight demographics. Some even express their target market in terms of a bulls-eye - like ABC1 women aged 35-34, working outside the home. This level of fine-tuning can make sense in a country like America with 300 million people but in the Irish market it seems risky to wish to exclude so many people in a market that is already so small. Instead, concentrate on the feelings and attitudes in respect of your brand that most buyers tend to share, regardless of whether they’re eighteen or 80. Then use that information to talk to your customers in a voice and tone that is meaningful and engaging to them. [Link]

Turning On the Light Buyer

Lighter buyers of your brand are critical to growing your business. Your most regular customers are at saturation in terms of buying your product whereas your competitors’ most regular customers are possibly not sufficiently interested in buying your brand even if it is on promotion.

The key, therefore, is to think about ‘light buyers’ - customers who you know to have some connection to your brand and who might be persuaded to buy more. Of course, promotions are one way of winning their attention temporarily but we know that that business is fickle. The most effective initiatives for winning new business will be some other tweak of the marketing mix - a new pack size, a new flavour, challenging advertising or perhaps some online initiative.