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UNDERSTANDING CUSTOMERS

While customers are often reluctant to admit that they buy products based on a brand or label, establishing a trustworthy brand can be a powerful way to add value to a product or message. Brands do not simply say something to people, they also say something about them.


The first step in building a successful brand is providing a quality product that customers can trust. First impressions are particularly important. If the product does not perform its fundamental function reliably the first time, customers are unlikely to form positive associations with the brand in the future.

Branding is about augmenting the actual value of a product by creating emotional connections. There are a few questions that can help guide a branding strategy:

*Should the brand be edgy, gregarious, and quirky, or straightforward, conservative, and businesslike?

*Should the brand appeal to risk takers?

*Should the brand try to convey an age or maturity that is not explicitly linked to the actual age of the brand?

The next step is learning how to segment the audience. There are two kinds of segmentation:

1. Simple segmentation focuses on the primary characteristics of the audience, including gender, age, and geography. It is important for businesses not to make limiting assumptions, or biases that can shrink their potential audiences. Just because a product might be stereotypically for men, younger people, or people in a certain geographic location does not mean it should or will always be.

2. Complex segmentation explores more complicated characteristics of the audience. It includes demographic information, such as income group, occupation, education, religion, and race, and psychographic information, such as lifestyle and personality, which can build a clearer and more complete picture of an audience.

The next step is applying this information to develop marketing and sales strategies. Strategies should identify how products or messages fit into people’s lives, what value they will add, and why people should care. Businesses can do this by using the value equation: P + P + P + P + P + P / Price = Value to the Customer. The first six P’s express the factors that make a product or message valuable:

1. Product: The artifact, or the thing that the customer receives. It should always be the highest quality possible.

2. Place: The physical location and availability of a product in relation to a customer’s location and ability to purchase it.

3. People: Face-to-face interactions with customers that add value.

4. Promotions: Sales and discounts that cost the business little but mean a lot to customers.

5. Process: The step-by-step process of buying a product or consuming a message. A business must focus on simplifying the process and making it more enjoyable.

6. Physical evidence: A product’s supporting material, such as its logo, packaging, signage, and even business uniforms, which must be consistent.

The six Ps must be divided by the price to deliver a true value proposition. A good marketer will find some way to add value to the numerator of this equation instead of lowering the price. Increasing the price can reflect positively on the quality and desirability of the product and the brand, as well as enter consumers into an exclusive club

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