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6 Customer Types and How to Help Sell Them

Customers often fall into one of these categories. Here’s how to approach each of them.
December 10, 2015

Customers are like snowflakes: None of them are exactly alike, and some of them may even be flakes. Here are some quick suggestions to help you develop marketing plans for six common customer types.

1. The Cheapskates

Some people are thrifty by choice, while others shop for bargains by necessity. But if you brag about how cheap your product or service is, you could cheapen your business in the eyes of the very people you're trying to attract.

A better approach? Try mentioning how expensive your competitors' products and services are.

"Draw upon alternative references that are expensive, so consumers can compare them," suggests Madeline Johnson, CEO of New York City-based Madeline Johnson Marketing & Public Relations. "I help market a best-selling line of at-home hair color that's on the shelves of Whole Foods [Market] from coast to coast. You wouldn't think that a woman or man buying expensive, organic groceries in an upscale market even cares about price, but when it comes to personal care, they do. We just had a price increase, and the pushback was incredible."

That's exactly why, Johnson explains, "in our marketing materials and on social media, we compare the costs of our product to professional salon pricing. Our product covers your gray for $15.99, and you get to do it in the privacy of your own home." 

That last part—about coloring your hair at home—is important. By pointing out the convenience of a use-at-home color system—you don't have to leave your house, and no one will see you looking less than your best—you're offering more reasons your customers should make this purchase.

2. The Quality Hunters

On the other side of the coin are the customers who don't care about the cost—they just want a high-quality product or service. For these people, too, you'll want to stress value, Johnson says. Just because they're willing to pay a higher price doesn't mean they don't want value for their money. In the hair color example above, Johnson says her client's product includes such value-loaded phrases in the marketing as "100 percent gray coverage," "long-lasting color," "high-performance healthy hair color" and "better for your health over time."

The major difference with customers who are laser focused on quality is that you may not necessarily have to mention the price right away in your marketing efforts.

It also helps if you can showcase the return on investment, especially if you're marketing to a business owner, says Michael Juba, a content marketing strategist at EZSolution, a design and marketing agency in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "Business owners can be stubborn, and they don't want to give any part of their business away," Juba says, referring to outsourcing a service. "You have to show them the ROI it will bring in order to persuade them it's the right thing to do."

3. The Brand Loyalists

If you're looking to lure away some of your competitors' customers and your competitors have a fervent following, you'll have your work cut out for you.

Ely Delaney, co-founder of Glendale, Arizona-based Your Marketing University, a national service that coaches and teaches entrepreneurs about marketing, has a pretty simple plan for giving it a shot. "Ask yourself: What is it that makes these people so rabid for this business?" Delaney suggests. Next, he says, create marketing campaigns that aimed at those customers.

Delaney offers an example. "I've been a PC person for years, but I've also wanted a Mac for years," he says. After years of hesitating, he believes part of what brought him around was Apple's advertising.

"I looked at what they did to reach their demographic, and I fit it," Delaney says. He mentions Apple's 2006 to 2009 marketing campaign. "They used those personality types brilliantly. [Apple represented] the hipster, young, energetic kid who wanted things simple and more fun with his Mac computer." As a result of these ads, Delaney switched.

4. The Jaded Shoppers

These customers have seen it all, and aren't impressed with the your graphics or your catchy prose.

Fortunately, there are ways you can address these jaded shoppers. If you have studies that back up any product claims you make, Johnson suggests including the information in your marketing copy. But you can't just throw in words like "studies prove" without actually proving that you have a real study to back up your claims.

For instance, if you're trying to market a line of anti-aging skincare, Johnson says you may want to share who conducted the clinical study and list key ingredients to help convince your skeptical customers that your product is the real thing.

If you include photos in your marketing materials, Johnson suggests, "you should include a sentence that states that they haven't been retouched and were taken directly from the study." Honesty and transparency can go far with the jaded customer.

Business owners can be stubborn, and they don't want to give any part of their business away. You have to show them the ROI it will bring in order to persuade them it's the right thing to do.

5. The Wishy-Washy Crowds

These are the customers who aren't really sure what they want. To convince them to do business with you, they may need a little handholding. They may not be familiar with the ins and outs of your product or service. This could be a good opportunity, but it’s up to you to educate this type of potential customer on why your product or service is the best.

Try beginning by asking them a few questions, Delaney says. "Learn more about them," Delaney advises, "and they'll probably give you enough information to help you lead them down the right path. That person sees you as an expert, but if you can give them something they didn't know they wanted, they'll think of you as a magician."

6. The Shy Guys

Wishy-washy customers could be backing away from you or unable to commit to a sale because they're shy, says Beth Buelow, founder of The Introvert Entrepreneur and author of Insight: Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert.

"Introverts tend to be researchers and appreciate details about potential purchases," says Buelow, a self-described introvert. "We'll come to your site or store having done our homework, and it will take more than the basic description to close a sale. There's a strong chance we¹ll have very specific questions about your product or service. …We often prefer to have important information in writing, rather than verbally—this gives us time to process the information on our own terms.

"Don't ask us for personal information right away or try to be super chatty," she adds. "To establish rapport, simply thank us for coming in and visiting, ask if there's anything we need assistance with, then give us space.”

“If we go to the trouble to seek you out, that's a very good sign you're about to close,” she notes. “Be friendly and inviting without overdoing it. We can be turned off if we feel like we're being sold to."

Many customers will be some sort of combination of these personality types. Understanding how to best approach each type may help you attract all these personality types and hopefully close more sales.

Read more articles on sales.

This article was originally published on December 24, 2014.

Photo: Getty Images