Step 3: know your (potential) customer

The route to a strong brand in six steps, it’s possible. The other steps are explained in previous blogs:

Introduction: building your brand successfully

Step 1: building a brand promise

Step 2: winning externally, starting internally


What the organisation stands for is now clear, just as your product or service is. And you also know who you’re doing it for. In short, the brand promise exists. Now is the time to get to know your customer even better. It should be self-evident that this step is crucial. You can use of customer analysis and market research. In this blog, I focus explicitly on customer analysis.

My message is: know your customer. Put yourself in their shoes and dare to choose. The more you connect with these people’s experiences, the more they’ll feel at home with your company or organisation. It sounds logical, of course, but in practice, it still appears hard to appeal to a mass audience, and to make a connection at an individual level at the same time.

“Why conduct a customer analysis? Everyone can be a customer.”
You’ll regularly hear business people saying: “Anybody can be my customer.” And that may indeed be true. But to perform focused marketing and sales, it’s good to pinpoint who fits with you. You might even discover that you don’t want everyone to be your customer. These days, customers are a large part of your brand, thanks to digitisation. Positive customer experience was always extremely important, but now it’s crucial, since people communicate with others in massive online communication about brands and their experiences. And the customer who matches with the core values of a company will be more likely to be a satisfied customer.

There are various marketing layers. A large general message for loading a brand and for reaching as many people as possible who feel attracted to the proposition. You can then take the first step deeper, namely: core messages. These are messages that you link to the core values of your organisation and to the target groups you want to reach. This allows you to zoom in on the needs of specific target groups.

I use the case of the “Jouw Marktkraam” retail format as an example – a company for which Anceaux Marketing was able to create the brand promise with the rollout to external marketing communications.

General message
Jouw Marktkraam – for all of the Netherlands

Jouw Marktkraam is a franchise chain with more than 35 stores in the Netherlands, where you can buy and sell. You can rent a stall and we’ll sell your vintage, homemade or brand-new stuff!

Core message
“Do you w
ant to give something back to your community? And do you have nice things you don’t want to throw out? If so, Jouw Marktkraam is something for you. Set up your own stall with a personal touch. The people in the store are glad to help you calling attention to your things. Make someone else happy with the things you no longer use. Help society by being social. “Jouw Marktkraam, for you and all of the Netherlands.”

This core message is linked to the core value “society” and the target group “tenant”. Tenants who can adopt this and other core messages can quickly become the desired ambassadors of the brand.

To create truly effective messages, you have to dive deeper into the experiences of the conversational partner with whom you wish to conduct a dialogue. Below is a list of various tools with which you can elaborate the customer profile.

Which tools are available to perform the customer analysis?

  • Analytics
  • Research – quantitative and qualitative
  • Customer journey
  • Building personas

I explain the various components briefly below.

This refers to all types of data (figures) that you can collect about the target group and (potential) customer. Much of this is about figures that you can observe in-house. There is already a considerable amount of data, especially at companies or organisations that have been active for some time. My recommendation would be to make very clear what you want to know, and why. What can you do with that data? You’ll often see that data gets collected simply because it can be collected. But then we don’t know what to do with it. It’s also possible to drown in numbers, and to forget the people behind them. But it’s a fact that figures can be very handy.

For example:

  • Web analysis
  • Social media data
  • Demographic data

Concrete examples of the insights that this data can provide: the scope of the target group, the size of the market, whether you’re reaching your target audience, and where additional profits can be made, for example. It’s also very helpful to formulate objectives as KPIs, allowing a more focused approach of your goal.

Research can be qualitative or quantitative. Quantitative research is objective and focuses on numbers, or numerical data. Online monitoring is one example, and it is closely linked to analytics, as described above. Other examples include experimental research, secondary analyses and survey research.

The qualitative part is focused on determining what moves your target group, and why. This type of research provides deeper information by focusing on the target group’s underlying motivation, opinions, desires and wishes. It focuses on the “why” of prevailing opinions and certain behaviours. Neuromarketing is an increasingly important part of this.

My recommendation would be to test this with a customer panel when starting a new product or company. They can provide considerable input that will be of enormous assistance in pinpointing where the needs and expectations truly lie and clarifying your message in this regard. Often, it’s all about language.

We’re currently working on a project called ‘De Polderij’, a meeting location in the middle of a natural setting, with a unique proposition that highlights an accent for each target group. We have clarified this, and we’re going to test it with a real customer panel representing all the target groups. Presumptions are all fine and well, but are they right?

Customer Journey mapping
Customer journey mapping visualises how a customer interacts with the company during the course of purchasing and being a customer. We call it mapping because we visualise the journey along all of the contact moments and all possible channels. This process ranges from the moment that the new customer signs a contract up until the moment that that person/the customer becomes an ambassador of your company, or until the moment that the customer leaves. A customer journey map provides insight into possibilities for improving the customer experience.

You can also create a clear customer journey, based on the brand promise, before you launch a brand into the market. What does your brand promise? And how are its features linked to this, for example? Or to the process? In order to have the brand promise come truly alive, it must be implemented in every fibre of the organisation. A customer journey can be extremely helpful in determining how this aligns with the customer experience.

A fine case in this regard was the interactive platform for Someone (a recruitment and selection agency for online professionals). They wanted to create an ambition platform that links the ambitions of the online professional with those of the employer. By using the brand promise as a core, and linking this to the customer journey, it quickly became clear what the platform needed to realise its brand promise.

Interaction design gemaakt door Colours

Building personas
A persona is an archetypal user, or a characterisation of a particular type of user. Personas are drawn up based on target group research, leading to the definition of a limited number of typical users. These users don’t really exist, but are indeed described as such (for purposes of the effectiveness of the use of personas). This means that a persona is described in terms of demographics, needs, biography and preferences, among other things. In some cases, the personas are linked to pictures, putting a real face on the persona. This way, when designing the user interface (a website, e.g.), the designer can take into account the most likely way a potential customer would use the website.

Personas are terrific tools for giving customers a face and making them tangible. You get closer to the customer – literally. Personally, I always like to use these for gaining insight into certain processes from the customer standpoint. To literally give the customer a face for everyone within the organisation. Because even though everyone may not have direct contact with the customer, everyone is nonetheless ultimately involved in customer service, even if indirectly.

At Jouw Marktkraam, we have built clear personas that aligned with the three target groups: the buyer, the tenant and the franchisee. This was a great help in making it clear to the internal organisation (the franchisees and their personnel) who they’re working for. To gain more empathy and to make choices based on this together with the brand promise.

Inside out
My recommendation is always to start on the inside, working towards the outside. And not to start with a customer and/or competitor analysis. Why not? Because you’ll then go looking breathlessly and rashly for that proverbial market opportunity. This is often forced, and one possible consequence is that you won’t be credible.

I’m well aware that this is just the tip of the iceberg, but it does help getting a clear picture of who your customer is, which is crucial if your goal is making your customer feel at home. And ensuring that the translation of your brand promise into external communication is in alignment. I would love to hear what you think.