Identifying Target Customers and Understanding their Needs | Milner Strategic Marketing

Identifying Target Customers and Understanding their Needs


If you lack a tight definition of your target customers and a clear understanding of their needs, you have an up hill struggle ahead.

One of the hardest questions I ask new clients is “who are your target customers and what do they want?”

The answers I get range from “we want more customers like the ones we already have” to quite tactical descriptions of segments like water utilities or local government. Every company I speak to can do much better on its target customer identification and be much more structured and detailed in its answers. In short, companies need more science in their customer identification.

Recently we worked with a client who had a hypothesis about the customer needs in a number of new business segments. They wanted to get the names and contact details of some representative companies in each segment so they could test their proposition. Using existing customer data, Companies House records, SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) code analysis and databases, we generated a representative test customer list for five segments for their service offering. Based on this they had individual meetings with target customers and were able to tailor their product.

Once you know your target segments, you can use more science to really understand your target customer’s precise needs using:

  • Questionnaires and surveys
  • Focus groups (for new segments)
  • User groups (for existing customers)
  • Conjoint analysis
  • The latter is the most technical analysis, but yields the most precise details about the relative importance your target customers place on the product or service features and also the importance of the supplier company (i.e. the brand impact).

Getting the customer targeting done in a detailed way yields benefits at every level in the organisation. It helps with detailed market sizing, identifying your real competitors, writing a razor sharp company strategy and business plan, targeting your PR, optimising your web content, writing customer presentations and brochures, and every aspect of product marketing and product management. Do your customer identification and needs analysis well, and the rest will follow.

The companies who fail to do this work correctly up front, make everything else in the organisation an up hill struggle as our road sign shows. Get it right and the gradient is with you.

If you want to know more about the science of identifying customers and understanding their needs, please contact us.

To find out more about what we do, please visit our website

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