Knowing Your Customer

Sept. 28, 2011
Before you can sell anything, you need to know your customer. First, are they out there? For the HVAC industry, it’s a safe bet that we can find customers for our product or service.

Before you can sell anything, you need to know your customer. First, are they out there? For the HVAC industry, it’s a safe bet that we can find customers for our product or service. Who are they? What are their needs and wants? What are their desires? What do they do for a living? Why do they buy? What makes them happy? What do they expect from you? What do they think about your competition? What are their price points? How much do you really know about your customer? What information might be important to your business?

If you know who your customer is, you stand a better chance of satisfying their wants, needs and desires. Knowing what your customer does can help you judge their income level. In addition, knowing why customers buy beyond the “My A/C system broke down,” reason, helps you approach your quote in a completely different light. If the customer buys the best, then don’t quote them on the low-end system. If you understand what a customer expects from you, then you have the knowledge of how to serve them best and maybe get that referral for your next job. By discovering how your customers view your competitors, you have a better chance of gaining a competitive advantage.

Marketers love to throw around the terms demographics and psychographics. What do they mean exactly? Merriam-Webster defines demographics as the statistical characteristics of human populations (as age or income) used especially to identify markets and as a market or segment of the population identified by demographics. Merriam- Webster defines psychographics as market research or statistics, classifying population groups according to psychological variables (as attitudes, values, or fears). For our purposes, demographics include, geography, age, gender, marital status, interests, and income. Psychographics include things like homeowner, building owner, general contractor, etc.

Use the demographics of your existing customer base to make assumptions that people with similar characteristics would also be potential customers. You can use your psychographics to subdivide customers into customer groups that have similar demographic characteristics. By doing this you can examine segments of your business, determine the most profitable segment and then market to those segments that are the most profitable, and those that have the greatest growth potential.

If you don’t currently keep detailed records on your customers, now is a great time to start recording this information in a database. Send questionnaires to your existing customers or call them on the phone to gather this marketing data. Once you reach critical mass (and this will vary for each company), you can begin to analyze the data. The larger the sample size (the number of customers on which you have data), the more accurate your assumptions will be. With this information in hand, you can purchase mailing lists that match your desired characteristics. Targeting customers with similar characteristics to your customers will yield better results than taking the shotgun or mass marketing approach. In the end, it will cost less and you will get a higher return on investment (ROI).

By using these tactics your capacity to reach potential customers, provide products and services they need, over time will differentiate your company as a leader in your industry segment. Defining and maintaining a portfolio of customer profiles for each of your market segments will help you understand where to focus your company’s marketing and sales efforts and react to changes in the market place. The days of shooting from the hip marketing are over as companies demand to see an ROI for each marketing program implemented. Marketing still requires creativity, but you also must integrate data measurement, in order to gauge the effectiveness of the marketing/advertising campaign. Do this, and your company can maintain a competitive advantage.

My website contains links to all the articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you want your marketing efforts pay big dividends, contact a marketing professional. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with lead generation, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and startup companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by showing them how to do more with less($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the website