How to identify your tribe. This exceptional marketing hack will revolutionise your business

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As a small business owner your time is precious. You know you need to direct your marketing to your tribe, who will benefit most from what you do. The challenge is knowing exactly how to identify your tribe. I’m about to demystify that for you. 

Why should you identify your tribe?

Knowing exactly who will benefit most from your business will revolutionise how you operate. You’ll become more efficient and more profitable. In my last blog I covered this in detail. It’s so important, that if you only ever complete one aspect of your marketing plan, make it this one. Identifying your tribe is truly transformational.

If you’ve ever read anything about marketing for small businesses you’ll recognise that you’re always told to ‘identify your target audience’. The problem is, they they never tell you exactly how to do it.  Whenever I read statements like this I want to scream ‘HOW??? HOW DO I IDENTIFY THESE PEOPLE???” 

If you’ve ever felt the same, read on my friend, because today you’ll finally get the answer.

Identifying your tribe is a simple 3 step process:

  1. Single out your best customers
  2. Determine what problem your business has solved for them
  3. Classify the characteristics they have in common
Step 1: Single out your best customers

The first step in knowing how to identify your tribe is to analyse your current customers. As I’m sure you’re very aware, not all your customers are equal – some are amazing, some are arseholes. 

Therefore, your goal with this step is to single out the amazing ones. Be careful here. There are amazing customers who spend lots, come back frequently and bring their friends. However, there are also amazing people who you love chatting to, but don’t actually spend that much with you. Unsurprisingly, it’s the amazing spenders who count here.

That said, there are other attributes which also define an amazing customer. Specifically, how they act and interact with your business. In essence, your best customers absolutely love what you do. The others can take or leave you. 

Consequently, it’s important to define which attributes amazing customers have. Chiefly, they are the ones who who have bought from you quickly, bought a variety of your products, made referrals or written testimonials for you.

For that reason, I’ve created this table to help you figure out who your BEST customers are. As stated earlier, your best customers are usually the ones who have spent the most with you over the years. So a good place to start is searching your accounting or CRM databases for them.

Once you have a list of your most lucrative customers you’re going to build on it by adding customers  who meet these criteria. Using the table below, go through your databases and drop all your customers into 2 buckets the ‘best’ and the ‘rest’.

The ‘best’ and the ‘rest’
Table comparing the best customers with the rest

You’ll probably notice that many of your biggest spending customers are also the ones who have referred you to their friends, family and business associates.

Having completed these lists, you should find that your ‘best’ bucket is much smaller than your ‘rest’ bucket. This is good news. You’ll see there’s a clear difference between the best and the rest. 

For maximum profitability you want more of your best customers, and less of the rest. Therefore, the next step is to analyse what your best customers have in common so you can target people with similar characteristics in the future. You’re going to do that in 2 stages; firstly to determine what problem your business has solved for them and secondly to classify the characteristics they have in common

Step 2: Determine what problem your business has solved for them

By now you should have a list of your best customers, so the second step to identify your tribe is to look at what this group has in common.

Since your ultimate goal is to target customers who fit your best customer profile, you are going to ignore those who fit in the ‘rest’ bucket. 

You may only have 10 people in your best customer bucket. That’s fine. If you have more, also fine.

For the most part, your best customers will be linked because your business solved the same problems for them. In other words the reason they purchased your product or service will be similar. Your goal with this step is to find out what that problem was. 

If you are lucky enough to know your customers personally, you might look at your ‘best’ bucket and instantly identify the common problem that your business solved. If not, you’re going to have to work a little harder to figure that out.

Generally the best way to do this is to ask them directly.

Ask

Given that most people absolutely love talking about themselves this shouldn’t be too hard. In truth   many of your lovely customers will be more than happy to tell you how your business made their lives better. You just have to ask.

To that end the most effective way to do this is to design a survey and email it to your best customers. It’s always a good idea to tell them what you’re doing because most people love being singled out as special. Explain that you value their custom, you’re looking to improve your business and you welcome their feedback.

With this in mind, you’ll want to include some of the following questions: 

  • When you first started using (product/service), what problem were you trying to solve?
  • If you hadn’t bought (product/service) what would you have done instead?
  • What benefits has (product/service) bought to your life?
  • If you were recommending (product/service) to a friend, what would you say?
  • What is the most useful aspect of (product/service)?
  • What is the least useful aspect of (product/service)?

The above questions are designed to identify your tribe by uncovering the thinking behind the customers’ purchase, that is the reason they bought. What your customers are seeking is solutions to their problems. Once you know what those are, you can use them to tailor your marketing activities and find other people with the same needs.

Seeing that many CRM platforms offer surveys within them creating a short questionnaire shouldn’t be too hard. If your CRM doesn’t offer this, you can  try a free survey generator here here.

Step 3: Classify the characteristics they have in common

With Step 3, your intention is to get under the skin of your best customers so you really understand them. Once you know what links them, you can target people who are like them. This will help you to  identify your tribe and grow your ‘best’ bucket

The top half shows a small 'best' bucket and a larger 'rest bucket. After you identify your tribe the 'best' bucket should grow over time so it becomes bigger than your 'rest' bucket which is shown in the lower half
Start with demographics

At this point we’re going to pause for a moment to review the ways in which we categorise groups The most common is by identifying their demographics. Demographics are physical characteristics, for example gender, age, income bracket, ethnicity, marital status, etc. If your business sells to other businesses demographics might also include sector, size, location, turnover etc.

So, take a look at your list and see if any demographics link them. Are they all from a certain income bracket or age? If you can see a pattern emerge, great! If nothing seems to link them that’s fine, we’re not done yet, because demographics are only part in how to identify your tribe.

Indeed, demographics can only take your understanding of your customer so far. Here’s why: Not all customers in a demographic are equal. Some are amazing and some are a pain in the arse. By and large, grouping people by their demographics alone will not paint a complete picture of your best customers. Because demographics are the dry facts they might tell you who they are, but won’t tell you why they buy.

For instance, let’s say you have 2 customers, both 35 year old women. One of them loves your stuff, buys everything you do and recommends you to her friends; she would go into your ‘best’ bucket. The other constantly requests discounts and calls once a month to complain; she’s firmly in the ‘rest’ bucket.

If you categorise by demographics alone these 2 customers will be lumped together as your ‘target audience’. But in reality, they have very little in common. 

Given these points you’ll need to try and identify why they bought by looking at their lifestyle and behaviours.

In effect, your best customers will be connected by their psychographics.

Build with psychographics

Psychographics may sound like a big, scary word, but don’t worry, it’s just another way of grouping people. But this time you focus on their psychological attributes, such as their lifestyle, personality, interests, values, attitudes, opinions, and beliefs.

Psychographics help you to really understand who your best customers are, and what makes them tick. As a result, they help you understand why they buy.

With this purpose in mind, analysing their behaviour and interaction with your business will help you to figure out what’s important to them.

For example, let’s say you have a cafe. You serve a variety of homemade food, but when you analyse your sales you notice it’s always your organic, vegan food which sells first. This information gives you some clues about the psychographics of your best customers. That is to say they value animal rights and care about the soil in which their food is grown. It’s therefore likely that they are interested in environmental issues and eco friendly products. All this information helps you build a picture of your best customers.

Analyse

In light of this, it’s a good idea to study your social media and website analytics and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What has moved your best customers to click on links and buy in the past? 
  • Which products did they buy? 
  • What process did they go through before buying? 
  • Which special offers or discounts worked best for them?

Answering the questions above will provide you with invaluable information on what kind of people your best customers really are.  

To conclude: By following the process outlined in this article, you will have a fantastic system to identify your tribe. 

Firstly you’ve identified your best customers. Secondly you’ve figured out what common problem your business solves for them. Thirdly you’ve classified them by their demographics and psychographics. As a result you can make some assumptions about the kinds of people they are, what they value and what’s important to them.Finally, armed with this information, you can tailor your marketing to appeal to other people with the same values.

This system is an exceptional way to identify your tribe. Putting it into practice will truly revolutionise your business. Like magic. Ta-dah!

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