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Think Like a Customer

By Eric Hultgren
Director of Marketing
MLive Media Group

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

Whenever you get into a conversation about the digital marketing landscape, you are going to hear people say “be authentic,” “don’t sell,” or “make a connection” and these are all correct – but how do you do all that?

One of the biggest questions I get from clients is on how to be authentic, which as a question seems silly, right? Just be yourself. However, in a larger marketing context connected to an entire campaign, that answer is pointed in the wrong direction. The key to social is not necessarily for you to be yourself (although that helps), the major key is that you act like your customer.

What does your customer want from the brand? What should their journey be through to conversion? What should the experience be after the sale? What do you want them to say to a friend? The answer to these questions stems from you understanding what your customer is like in the first place.

Say you are a lawn care business who wants to execute a campaign on Facebook because you understand that your audience is there waiting. The thing is, they aren’t waiting for you. Nobody is using Facebook for the ads, or the sponsored content, or the native advertising. They are on Facebook to connect with friends, laugh, blow off steam, or waste some time.

Knowing this you could put up a photo of a lawnmower with text that reads: “Book your lawn care appointments before spring and save 10%” and that might work.

The alternative is that you could put up a video of your team making a lawn look amazing and in that video the homeowner is on their deck drinking iced tea and reading a book, the text of that post would read: “what would you do with an extra 2 hours every Saturday this summer?” At the end of the video the book now button would appear and you would have made a connection with your customer.

MORE: Learn to put the human touch back into your marketing at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15


The person who is booking lawn care services wants to save time. They either don’t have it to begin with or they just don’t like mowing the lawn. So, if we are thinking like our customer our ads need to address what they are feeling and why they would be interested in you in the first place. What would I do with 8 extra hours a month because of your service? No idea, but you have my attention.

Which, after all, is the goal: attention. Marketers are driving clients to social because people don’t watch TV ads like they used to, they don’t listen to radio like they used to, and they don’t pay attention to billboards like they used to. Marketing continues to change but the single constant is that you need to go where the customer is and start thinking like them. Your customer is very savvy and has zero time for terrible display ads in their Facebook feed.

You want to win in the social space? There are lots of tips and tactics that can help you get there but until you understand what your customer wants and how they want to get there, you are going to spend a lot of time trying out different versions of your brand’s authentic self before you hit a home run. However, if your competition is better at listening, better at creative, and better at connecting than you are, you don’t have time to guess on what might work.

Eric Hultgren will moderate a panel discussion at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

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