Interpreting Customer Profiles to Create Breakthrough Marketing

My most recent blog for Target Marketing Magazine featured a post titled How Great Marketers Inspire Action. In just hours after it was released, the feedback I received was quite positive.

The point of the article is that as marketers, we don’t always see our prospects as people. We think of them as targets. But the deeper dive is that there is so much information out there in the world, it’s just that often we don’t take the time to synthesize and analyze the information to understand why they respond.

That blog was inspired by a Ted Talk video by Simon Sinek titled How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Substitute “Marketing” for “Leaders” and as a marketer you may see the connection.

Sinek describes a golden circle of “what,” “how,” and “why.” The outside ring of the circle, where most marketers approach customers and prospects, is the “what.” The middle ring is the “how.” Marketers usually do pretty well at communicating the “what” and “how,” as we translate features into benefits for the logical part of the brain.

But at the core of the golden circle, where decisions are often made in the brain, is the “why.” It’s the emotional response.

This tends to be a place where marketers miss the mark.

It’s my experience that when you deeply understand your customers, and look for the underlying reason why they buy, you’ll create a breakthrough campaign.

How do you get there? I suggest two ways to get started:

1. Profile your customers. I just finished analyzing a profile today for a client. This profile came back with over 500 pages of data. As a data junkie, I love going through it to find where the penetration of certain attributes are significantly higher than that of the average population. Profiles can be created by several data companies and it’s affordable to do. But the profile itself is merely the starting point. Over the years, I’ve used the insights that a profile yields to successfully reposition messaging copy and increase response.

2. Interpret the data. This is where most marketers make a huge mistake. Just staring at reports and charts won’t do you much good. You got to interpret the data. You have to think deeply about what the data points reveal about your customers. One example of how this works is for an offer we created for Assurity Life Insurance. The insight from the profile was that the buyer was usually a woman and she had an interest in her grandchildren and devotional reading. The approach to selling this product was the usual $1 intro . But we repositioned the message to reveal the “why.” The “why” message transformed the prospect into realizing that the proceeds from a life insurance policy could be a wonderful legacy left for her grandchildren or a favorite charity. The result for the marketer was a double-digit response increase.

Here are three action items that I recommend:

Then test it.



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1 Comment

Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.