The Easiest Way To Know Your Customers
Updated: Mar 13
How well do you know your customers? No, really, how well do you know the likes and dislikes of your customers? I'm not talking about knowing them as far as whatever survey feedback data that you've received from them through any of your company’s questionnaire responses or any psychographic data that you've accumulated by way of market research.
I mean how well do you truly know them? Do you know what they read? What's their favorite shows to watch? How about who would make the list for their favorite celebrities or music artists?
If you cannot answer those questions, do not be alarmed. In fact, from my personal experience, I'd say on average, about 90% of top-level executives can't relate to the vast majority of their brand’s consumers.
So what's this easy remedy to getting to know your customers? I'm glad you asked. It's a simple four word answer…expand your social circle.
For the sake of context, allow me to give a little background on myself. I was raised in Oakland, California in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. And yet, I have friends and associates of all ethnicities and from totally different backgrounds and walks of life than where I come from simply because I never placed cultural barriers on my social circle.
If you adhere to the tips below, I guarantee you’ll become a much better marketer and entrepreneur (you’ll also be invited to many more social events if you’re nice).
Expand your social circle
For me, sports has always served as a conduit to meeting and having lengthy interactions with people of all ages, races, and creeds.
There's something about playing basketball with someone that can instantaneously connect an 18-year-old White kid from the suburbs and a 35-year-old African American guy from the inner city emotionally -- two people that probably never would have spent an extended period of time around one another if it wasn’t for a mutual love of the game.
It's because of those interactions and many other general activities, that I have friends from so many different backgrounds. From a 65-year-old retired White entrepreneur, to an 18-year-old Asian student at Stanford University. And many races, sexes and cultures in-between.
Sports is just one way to open your circle and meet new people. But there's a myriad of other common interest activities that can serve as a gateway to meeting new people. For starters, what activity do you love to do as a hobby outdoors? Whatever it is, there’s others that love to do that hobby just as much as you do if not more.
The next time you see someone doing that activity in-person, why not start a conversation with them about it? Now, you’ve met someone that you instantly have at least one common interest with.
There’s other ways of conversing with people outside of your social circle (I’ll get into those later) in which you can easily connect with people that you probably wouldn't ordinarily interact with for an extended amount of time.
How does this help you get to know consumers?
Our society is a melting pot. And as a marketer for your brand, you want consumers from every ethnicity and walk of life to support it. The easiest way to attain consumers from diverse backgrounds is to know their likes and dislikes; which means relating to them, understanding their culture—things that you can only do by actually getting to know them on a personal level.
As a marketing manager, welcoming different cultures into my social circle has been a great asset in a myriad of ways. It's helped to keep me informed on what's soon-to-be and currently trending in a variety of cultures and genres because I have younger friends from different backgrounds that help keep me aware of what’s hot....before it becomes hot to the masses.
I also have older friends that I talk to about their favorite TV shows, their relationships, and other topics that are of interest to them. This helps me relate to them, and understand their likes and dislikes as well as other aspects of their personal life, which in turn—helps my approach towards the way that I market towards their demographic. Which gives me an edge over marketers that solely relying on data—see where I’m going with this?
By opening your social circle, you can understand why some of your customers may love listening to Pop Smoke or Billie English' music. Or why they gather their family to watch This is Us or Young Sheldon. Understanding why consumers like certain shows could help your approach towards the way that you choose to advertise towards them.
By simply being interested in a diverse group of people, and speaking with them on a regular basis—you'll have an upper hand as a marketer. This would help keep you to keep your finger on the pulse of different cultures. Therefore—making it easier for you appeal to them in your marketing materials.
In her book, Marketing: A Love Story, author Bernadette Jiwa posed this cogent question, "If we don't take the time to really see our customers and get to know their story, how can we create things and experiences they want and need?"
The path to getting to know your customers is simple. Get to know people.
Finally, the growth benefit
Befriending people outside of your typical demographic also has another benefit. Aside from helping you become a better marketer and entrepreneur; it'll help you grow culturally and emotionally, therefore—enhancing your empathy. Which will contribute to every other aspect of your life.
Think about it this way, how dull would life be if we only ate foods from our region, race, or ethnicity? I don't know about you, but my life has been greatly enhanced since being introduced to sushi, tamales, falafel, and lumpia (I’m sure you also enjoy at least one of those dishes). That same logic could be applied towards limiting your social sphere to only those in your particular demographic.
There's so many great opportunities that you may be missing out on in business by not being more culturally-gregarious. So, the next time you're at the gym, grocery store, a sporting event, your favorite watering hole, or wherever it may be—spark up a conversation with someone that you ordinarily wouldn't converse with. You may be surprised by how much you could learn about them. And just how many people would enjoy conversing with you.
And you never know, you could be talking to a customer...or your next friend.