In an ideal world every client and buyer you encountered would fit into a precise target market (preferably one that your marketing department has staked out). These clients and buyers would use your product for its intended purpose 100% of the time, which would allow you to create new products for different needs. But we don’t live in an ideal world–especially not today, where technology has become so advanced that a single device can fulfill hundreds of different requirements for a buyer.
Sometimes, however, social platforms create situations in which your product receives unexpected interest or use from a target market that you didn’t even know existed. Many companies choose to stay the course with their primary branding and leave these interested customers out in the cold. Indeed, one of the commonly understood schools of thought is to market solely to one’s target market, and keep one’s eyes forward; many companies see good results with this. But choosing to engage with the road less traveled can be a truly transformative – and profitable – experience for a brand.
Tracking Your Buyers: Demographic Information
The most basic concern with a product is identifying which demographics are actually buying it once it’s out in the wild.
It’s one thing to identify a target while designing, and to design for that target, but often sea changes in the market at large can sweep significant new demographics toward your brand. These new fans are sometimes fickle, unreliable, and ultimately ignorable in favor of sticking to core competencies… but other times they can change everything. Either way, the most important step is the first one: finding out if they really exist.
Depending on the brand, the product, and the tools at your disposal, how exactly you measure this can change drastically. Most companies should keep an eye on the social media presence their brands generate, especially during new product launches. A children’s show aimed at one gender taking off in significant part among adults of the opposite, for example, is likely to show its extended market segment on social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and podcasts, rather than through merchandise purchases.
If you sell directly to individuals or consumers, use a CRM program to track demographic information. Don’t be too invasive with questioning. Start by getting what information the customer is willing to give you, and consider if any other information would be prudent once you have the obvious pieces. A strong CRM will allow you to start comparing demographic information with the other information you collect, allowing you to find out who your strongest customers really are, and if they match your current target market.
Putting Customers First – Even When It Changes Your Brand
Once you identify these additional market segments and learn a little more about them, you can start to acknowledge them in your marketing efforts as well. Your core focus should remain on your primary target market, but the occasional dip into other areas will foster additional loyalty among those you’ve attracted along the way. Even if the acknowledgments are small, such as a minor mention of a social media phenomenon among this demographic or a small quality-of-life feature which primarily benefits these new users, showing that you’ve taken the time to engage with your new customers can make them feel welcome.
Sometimes, the new market segment can even begin to overtake the old one, coexisting or even supplanting the initial target market. Handling this has to come on a case by case basis, but consider embracing the change rather than trying to resist it. Either the old target market has lost significant interest in your product or there’s clearly a new one that could lead to even greater rewards; either way, riding the wave of change can lead to new opportunities that would’ve been impossible focusing exclusively on the old guard.
Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a change in your customer base? Have you resisted it and stuck to your core target market, or changed course to take advantage? Tell us your stories in the comments section. And, if you’re interested in learning more about what people have to say regarding customer attention, check out the following articles.
- The Rising Cost of Customer Attention: Why You Should Care, and What You Can Do About It, Thales S. Teixeira
- Things Fall Apart, The Dynamics of Brand Audience Dissipation, Marie Agnes Parmentier and Eileen Fischer. — “…examines how fans can contribute to the destablization of a brand’s identity and fuel the dissipation of audiences of which they have been members.”