Oh, how the times have changed. There once was a time where marketing consisted of making a good product, convincing people how great it was, and naturally dominating the market. Nowadays, as marketers, we have to do more. Much. More.

The good thing about modern marketing is that we’ve stopped trying to sell to our customers and have instead used customer insights to create a natural alignment between our brand and the market segment most likely to convert to customers.

This has, of course, created the need to know our customers far better than we’ve ever had to before.

Why It’s Not Enough to Know “Who They Are”

As marketing has evolved over the years, so, too, has the need to know more about them. At one point, knowing that your target audience was 25-40-year-old females in the United States was enough to remain competitive. But as the market became more diverse, societal norms changed, and new social trends emerged, having just those key bits of information became the bare minimum.

In order to remain even mildly competitive in today’s market, you have to know so much more than who your customer is. You have to know what they like, dislike, their morals, their common interests, their thoughts, their perceptions…pretty much, you have to be an expert on your customer as if they were your family.

What’s a “Customer Expert”?

A “customer expert” is someone who knows so much about the target consumer that their insight is critical in major decision making. Not just in marketing or consumer-facing aspects of an organization, but to the entire organization as a whole.

Being a customer expert extends beyond just having a general feel for the demographics and psychographics of your target audience. It becomes knowing your customer so well, their psyche, and their lifestyle, that you can actively predict their choices and foreseeable purchasing actions.

Why It’s More Important Than Ever

A company pretty much revolves around the customer. If employees are the backbone, then customers are the entire circulation system, keeping it alive and healthy. Being a customer expert means being able to increase the financial health and wellness of your organization. Which, of course, is your bottom line.

Not only is knowing your customer’s most basic choice important in driving your bottom line, but it’s dier in staying competitive in your respective market. As the supply in every niche consumer market begins to become more crowded, it becomes a game of “who knows the most about our audience” just to stay competitive.

How to Fully Understand Your Customer

There are two major components in fully understanding your customer so you can drive your bottom line and carve out your market share.

The first is being able to close your eyes and visualize your customer. Zoom out a bit and try and get an accurate read on this person. Most likely, you can associate them with someone you already know or have encountered. What did they like? What are they wearing? What do they eat? You’ve had your social bearing for a while, enough to know who this person might be.

The second is having all the necessary data relevant to your customer. This data and analytics can’t just be the traditional pie charts and graphs. Data has to give real, critical, predictive insight into your customer so that you can do adequate forecasting and decision-making. It also has to be available, functional, and modern. You can’t just google some statistics or reference survey answers from a few months ago. Data has to be in real-time, easy to interpret, and give answers to critical questions in order to optimize high-level campaigns.

Having these two key elements can help you know your customer far better than your competition, enough to steal their heart, and steer your company to higher levels.