Identifying your customer’s needs

Once your target market has been defined in as much detail as possible, enabling you to define it as though it were an actual person (target market persona), it’s now time to do as all good marketers should, focus on your customer’s needs. In order to satisfy your target market’s needs in a manner that is uniquely superior to your competitors, those needs must firstly be clearly identified.

The term “needs” as used by marketing people is somewhat generic in nature, in that it can mean a number of different things. The words needs and wants are often interchanged as synonyms but really they are not the same thing. A business owner may feel that her target market has a particular need, but if that group of people are not conscious of that need or have no desire to satisfy that need, then marketing to them is going to be very difficult. They’ve got to want it!

The best way to look at your customer’s needs is to understand that businesses exist to provide solutions to people’s problems. To make people’s lives a little better or easier in some way shape or form. That may involve taking someone further away from a pain or a problem eg headache relief, or closer to a desired outcome eg a new car ownership.

I have always found it useful to classify customer “needs” on two levels. Firstly, on a practical level where people may be seeking comfort, refreshment, convenience, speed, value for money, shelter or safety. The lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s important to understand these needs as they are usually sited as justification for a particular purchase. Eg “I bought this Mercedes Benz because of the superior German engineering, it will retain its value and it’s the safest car for my family.”

The other level of needs may be termed emotional, psychological or social needs. For most purchases, particularly as the price gets higher, people make their purchase decisions based on emotion. That’s because humans are emotional beings. We like to think, or we like others to think that we make decisions based purely on logic and reasoning. As per the example above.

In reality though, the opposite is generally true. But can you imagine someone saying “I purchased this Mercedes Benz because it demonstrates to people that I am a successful person with high levels of taste, wealth and status”? Not likely, but that’s exactly what drives these kinds of purchase decisions. This doesn’t just apply on the show room floor but also in supermarkets, where unconscious decisions based on emotional need can drive brand purchase decision making.

Our customers will quite often have multiple needs across both levels, emotional and practical. The key is to identify them and then rank them in order of priority. This involves putting yourself in the shoes of your target market and thinking and feeling from his or her perspective.

It’s only once you understand the most important needs of your target market, that you can begin building a brand and brand communications that strike a cord with your most important potential customers. Your marketing strategies need to be based on satisfying these needs and importantly, being seen to be satisfying these needs by your target audience in relation to suitable alternatives.

At Baker Marketing, we have developed finely tuned needs analysis techniques based on many years of marketing and market research experience. We help business owners think from the perspective of their target market and make strategic, customer- centric marketing decisions.

If you would like to talk to Baker Marketing about identifying your customer’s needs, please call Baker Marketing on 8352 3091.



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