The trick is to determine what uniquely identifies your best customers. Fortunately, deriving this information is not difficult, and in many cases can be obtained from innocuous questions. Consider a manufacturer of baby goods and the fact that families with new babies often purchase multi-passenger vehicles. This manufacturer could build an effective mailing list by surveying recent car purchasers and noting which respondents had traded in sports cars for SUVs. Your information gathering technique of course will vary, but the identifying information always comprises the same three pieces -- demographic information, geographic location, and purchasing history.
Consumer behavior varies with age, sex, education, income, occupation, marital status, and family size. These demographic parameters are typically used to describe consumers, but they're not an exhaustive list. Perhaps the current brand of car or credit limit would more accurately determine your customer base, which reveals the dark side of demographics -- choosing which demographics to discard may be occasionally difficult. You may find yourself fighting the urge to know every minute detail about your customers. Bear in mind that too much information can be just as paralyzing as too little, and remember to choose wisely, because demographic information is the foundation of your customer analysis.
Trends in apartment renting and home ownership have proven the old adage "birds of a feather flock together," amazingly correct. Geographic location analysis paired with demographics reveals clusters of people with similar characteristics living near one another. This type of analysis creates maps where your customers live, which can yield additional clues on where to look for new customers. It's also worth noting that purchasing behavior is remarkably consistent within specific geographic areas, reflecting shared lifestyle traits. Market segmentation studies can build upon geographic analysis to produce studies of various customer types as well.
When did your customers last make a purchase? How often do they buy? How much do they typically spend? You can use these questions to assign a value category to your customers. If you're a consumer goods and services provider, you have all the purchase information you need right in your sales records. If that's not enough, or if you run a different type of business, you can find generalized purchasing history in census data.
Using what you know about current customers to identify likely new customers increases your chances significantly of finding new best customers. That in turn generates sound data to guide your product offerings, promotional programs, and overall marketing strategy.
Catenate, LLC is a web-based provider of detailed easy-to-use targeted geodemographic reports, through the Catosphere (http://www.catosphere.com) and related marketing services.
Wendy Cobrda, CEO