In the marketing world, it’s pretty noisy. We’re awash in promotional clutter online, offline, roadline, tvline, and every other line where there’s a blank space.

Overwhelming advertising can turn off consumers. I recall a 2012 report on digital advertising released by Upstream and YouGov that showed 20% of American Consumers would stop using a product or service “if they were subjected too much advertising.”

While the survey focused on digital promotions, I believe that the same could be said to all advertising in general.

However, the report did show that 69% of U.S. consumers would “respond positively” to promotions that are:

  • Tailored to their personal interest
  • Relevant to what they are doing
  • Specific to their location

That’s great news for local businesses. Especially those that fully understand its target market.

Know Your Audience: Create Customer Personas

Creating customer personas can be very helpful in creating a marketing strategy that resonates with your target market. One of the best ways to create customer personas is to speak with the experts about your business—your best customers.

These are the people who can give you great insights on your business, your industry and how they like to hear about your products and services.

First Step to Making Music Your Customer Want to Hear: Listening

The ultimate goal of the interview is to develop an understanding of your typical customers. The right questions will also give you insights into your business’ strengths and weaknesses and approaches to marketing likely to be most effective to reaching prospects who are just like your best customers.

Consider conducting 5 to 10 customer interviews. This would help give you well-rounded insights into your business.

The first step is to identify customers who will provide meaningful information about your business. Look through your book of business and select people who you consider would be good candidates for a brief interview – loyal, well spoken, and well-informed.

Next, determine the best setting for your interview – in-person or on the phone. For the most part, a phone call will suffice.

Now, arrange for the interview. Yes, everyone is pretty busy these days; however, you’d be surprised how your good customers would be willing to take a half hour out of their day for a personal interview.

If you’re in a charitable mood, offer a restaurant gift certificate. That would certainly motivate participation plus generate a happy customer.

Questions to Ask During the Interview

Before the interview, gather the following data from your customer:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Education

Then ask the following questions:

  1. How would you describe our business?
  2. How has our product or service helped you?
  3. How did you first find out about us?
  4. Why did you decide to do business with us?
  5. When you made your purchase decision, was there anything that helped you decide to buy from us (brochure, ad, website, or referral)?
  6. What companies do you consider to be our competitors?
  7. How did you become aware of these competitors?
  8. What one thing do we do better than others that you do business with?
  9. What one thing we could do to create a better experience for you?
  10. What source of information do you consider credible in helping you make purchase decisions?

Sometimes, each of these questions can lead to additional questions. After all, you’re really just having a conversation with a customer.

Once you’ve conducted several of these interviews, then you’ll probably start seeing valuable trends for your business. You can apply the information you gather to create an effective marketing strategy. You’ll understand better who your customers are, and how to meaningfully promote to them in ways to cut through the marketing noise.

With a marketing strategy in place that’s based on information gathered by your customers, you’ll be able to tailor messages and promotions that will be music to their ears and, ultimately, better profits for you.