B2B marketers face challenges in creating their customer profiles because, unlike B2C customers, the demographics and psychographics vary widely and play lightly into most purchase decisions. Firmographics is the method of identifying customers and developing customer profiles based on qualities that apply to businesses, not individuals. Which firmographics are most useful to you? What are your options?
A great rule of thumb is to collect data on as many different firmographics as possible and run data analysis to determine which are most effective at creating customer profiles. In some situations, you can segment your customers even further, and develop multiple marketing strategies to address your varied and heterogeneous customer base.
Firmographics that Matter
1. Industry: Unless you market a niche product designed only for a particular industry, it can be immensely helpful to know which industries leverage your products the most. Scan the data deeply for hidden markets where you could deliver more ads and build an entirely new customer base for your products.
Marketing strategies that work for the finance industry might not be nearly as effective when marketing to manufacturing or logistics companies. Know your customers' preferences, how they speak, and how they prefer being spoken to.
2. Number of Employees: Are your products most popular with small startups? Growing mid-size companies? Sprawling enterprises? Knowing what size business your product is most attractive to tells you where to go to find more likeminded buyers.
3. Annual Revenue: Is your product more affordable than your competitors? It might be popular with the little guys. Is it more expensive, but packed with hearty features and functionality? It might be most attractive to the Fortune 1000 guys. But check the data! Do not assume that your customers are who you think they are, because the data often tells a completely different story. Sometimes the big guys are in a market that is experiencing an economic lag, and your inexpensive product is attracting more than its share of bargain-shopping enterprises. Never assume you understand the market until you run the analysis.
4. Location (Geographic): Are your customers concentrated in New England or spread across the vast Southwest? Should you run more marketing campaigns in the Pacific Northwest or the Deep South? Find out where your customers are -- but look deep enough into the data to determine if these businesses also have branches or franchises in other regions or nations.
5. Executive Title: Who usually makes the purchase decision to buy your products? The CFO? CEO? A middle manager? Know which job titles represent your most dependable buyers.
6. Sales Cycle: If you don't understand the sales cycle, you can easily waste lots of time and effort marketing to businesses or individuals who never actually intend to buy. Know the length of time a buyer usually takes to conduct diligent research and make an informed purchase decision versus how long a shopper with no intent to buy might waste your time.
7. Additional Firmographics to Consider: What time of year is the busiest season for your customers? What is their climate like? When do they need to stock up on your products or take advantage of your services? Knowing them is the ticket to marketing to them successfully.
That's Not All...
Depending on your products, there are other firmographics that can be helpful, too:
- How technical your customers are
- Who their customers are
- Where they are located (as well as their branches, franchises, and other interests)
- What products or services they specialize in
- What their position within their industry is (startup versus small fish or industry mover and shaker)
- How old your customers' businesses are
- The structure of your customers' businesses (corporation, partnership, publicly traded, etc.)
- Their hours of operation
- How viable your customers are
- What methods of payment they accept
How can these firmographics help? Suppose you market security equipment. Knowing your customers' hours of operation helps you market your products and develop new products that meet their needs. Similarly, knowing their location lets you know what weather conditions the security equipment must endure. The firmographics you need to collect and analyze depend on what products or services you are marketing.
It All Begins with Data
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