Motivating Your Customer To Buy

DECK: Once you understand who your “20 percent” is, you can begin to
unearth their motivation for buying.
Motivating Your Customer To Buy
Nancy Michaels
Word Count: 698
During wartime, medics have to prioritize their casualties based on whose
wounds are most life-threatening. These lessons from the battlefield apply to
the world of marketing in the practice of marketing triage. One of the
biggest mistakes that we’ve seen small-business owners make is that they
tend to treat all customers as if they’re equal. We realize that to do
otherwise may seem undemocratic, not to mention unfair, but in business,
the simple fact is that not all customers are equal. Some are better than
There’s a marketing maxim that says 80 percent of your business comes
from 20 percent of your customers. Sometimes it’s even fewer than that. In
a recent story about the airline industry, USA Today reported that 6 percent
of United Airlines’ customers account for 24 percent of all flights. And that
same 6 percent produces 37 percent of United’s total revenues. So then,
doesn’t it make sense to treat those passengers differently from the average
Too many of us as small-business owners feel like we need to market to
everyone. What the most successful companies around the world have found
is just the opposite -- that you need to define specifically who your ideal
target customer is, and then design your entire marketing plan to appeal to
them. Everything from the look and feel of your logo and business
environment to the way you present your product or service should be
geared toward these ideal customers. The person who shops Tiffanys is not
the same person who shops at Kmart. The marketing strategy for one won’t
attract the other customer.
To get a handle on where the majority of your business is coming from,
invest a few hours dividing your total revenue for last year by each of your
customers. Once you understand who your “20 percent” is, you can begin to
unearth their motivation for buying.
A research study by Stanford Research Institute called the “Values and
Lifestyle Survey (VALS)” categorizes people according to income and values.
These are:
This group makes up 38 percent of the population. Sixty percent are
blue-collar workers, 70 percent live in the midwest and south and they
earn on average $17,000 to $25,000 per year. Their primary value is to
belong and they are most likely members of a service organization, such
as The Lions Club or The Knights of Columbus. The car that typifies a
Belonger is a Ford Taurus.
These are 20 percent of the U.S. population. They’re 17-38 years old,
earn $16,000 to $40,000 per year and their No. 1 value is to be
successful in material terms. They’re most likely to drive a Geo Storm.
This is 18 percent of the population. They earn $50,000 to $2 million each
year and their main value is to be unique and the best at what they do.
You’ll likely find an Achiever in a Mercedes.
Societally Conscious
This is 22 percent of the population. They value intelligence and base
their buying decisions on their social and political views. Their favored car
is a Volvo.
Need Driven
They just want to make it through another day.
This, at 2 percent, is the cream of the crop. People in this category have
nothing to prove. They may earn a lot, but you won’t find them in a
Mercedes. More likely, they’ll be driving a Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
Each of these people makes purchasing decisions for different reasons.
Understanding which categories your target market falls into will help you
tailor your marketing message accordingly.
In this series of columns, we covered a variety of ways to first, understand
what motivates your customers to buy, and second, to adapt your marketing
strategy to capture their interest. Yogi Berra put it best, “90 percent of the
game is half mental.”
Nancy Michaels, of Impression Impact, works with companies that want to
reach the small business community and with small business owners who
want to sell more products and services. Copyright© 2005, Nancy Michaels.
All rights reserved. For information, contact Frog Pond at
800.704.FROG(3764) or email;