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Britney Spears, General Hospital, and Ben Matlock: Understanding Psychographic Marketing

Aug 17, 2007
From start-up to exit strategy, companies follow a predictable development path.

They don't call "General Hospital" and "Days of Our Lives" soap operas for nothing. Back in the day they were watched by housewives while they did the laundry.

Remember the 2006 Super Bowl commercial for Pizza Hut, with a dumbstruck teenager, who could hardly believe his luck, when Britney Spears showed up.

And those Matlock reruns with their endless commercials for motorized wheelchairs and Medicare supplemental insurance, etc.

All successful marketers understand that you've got to get your message where the people for whom it was intended are most likely to already be. The excellent marketers are masters of the art and science of psychographic marketing.

Psychographic segmentation divides the market into groups based on social class, life style, and personality characteristics.

Research demonstrates that the types of reactions (behavior, purchases, etc.) of an individual will reflect that person's characteristics and patterns of living.

For example, and established business (10+ years old) faces a range of predictable internal challenges.

Figure out how to connect with one person around one of these predictable events and you will have an endless string of prospects, other businesses just like them - with problems like the one you have become known for being able to solve.

While all business owners believe that "our business is different" in fact they are more alike than they can guess. If you can fix just one of these common problems there are millions more waiting for your expertise.

Regardless of the size of the organization, its culture, or legal ownership from shoe repair shop to labor union, a family structure defines how it operates.

No matter whether it is a non-profit or governmental organization, a century old family business or a publicly traded enterprise, it is likely to be organized based on a recognized family system basis.

Older people make the rules - young people are supposed to obey them. Insiders are treated better (more equal) than outsiders, qualifications and credentials not withstanding. Young people make waves (new ways of doing things), older people like the status quo, and on and on.

A family system exists in every organization structure. The structure and makeup of these businesses show up as typical responses to these predictable events.

The question is, how can you mold your services to help them deal with the predictable issues and challenges that occur in every family (aka business)?

Currently over eighty percent of all companies are defined as privately held and/or family owned with seventy-five percent of them having fewer than 100 employees.

That's seven million companies across North America. And virtually 100% of the business growth in our lifetimes will be companies of five hundred or fewer employees and will be privately held businesses. That's millions more opportunities for you.

Psychographically, what do all these companies and their owners, managers, and employees have in common?

Problems associated with getting along and working together as a team is one. Unresolved workplace conflict was responsible for sixty-five percent of all voluntary terminations in 2005. Imagine your value to a client if you can help them cut that figure in half.

Productivity is another, so is sales training - the list is endless. Often a very small percentage improvement will be worth a lot of money to the business owner and more than justify your fees.

When the company is profitable the owner/operator, not a bunch of faceless stockholders, puts the money in their bank accounts. If your services offer real "bankable" benefits, the people who hire you will be the direct beneficiaries of your efforts. That's how to get referrals and a continuous stream of clients.

And if a family business loses money, it's their money that's being lost. Every nickel your services saves them adds directly to their bottom line. Helping people feel better about themselves while becoming a more evolved individual will get you a pat on the back. Helping them uncover issues that result in saving them a bunch of money will result in more business for you.

Whatever your special area of expertise - opportunities to market it, sell it, and deliver it are more abundant in the universe of family businesses, because there are so many of them and the people are tied together by a lot more than an employment contract.

By definition the people are related by blood, marriage, or life long relationships. You can't easily choose, when things get rough, to stop being someone's brother, cousin, husband, father, daughter, etc.

People often must work side by side in an interdependent, long term relationship with people they wouldn't necessarily have chosen to work with, and they can't (or won't) easily leave.

They need to be able to get along with their family members at work, because they need to get along with them outside of work.

In addition to the normal business pressures, people in a family business have to juggle family and personal dynamics right along with other on-the-job stresses. For example, a family member feels that their mom/dad loves their brother/sister more and gives them preferential treatment at work.

If you can help people work this out you will have more clients than you can handle.

Or a brother-in-law with an advanced business degree gets passed over for president in favor of the son who can barely add a column of figures. Mixed messages coming from the senior generation often fuel feelings of entitlement, expectations, and envy.

A coach who helps members of a family business work together to establish and maintain an environment of shared goals can become a millionaire, in addition to the lives they touch and the good they do in the communities where their clients live.

Emotional issues regularly trump logic in the family business environment. Yours can be the voice of reason.

All of the business issues - leadership, management, human resources, marketing, succession planning, etc. - are exacerbated by the emotionally charged climate.

And these companies are everywhere. No matter the setting, when I tell people that I work with family businesses - if they are one, there is an immediate recognition. Since they are one, they are always interested in someone who understands people like them.

Family business owners are everywhere. They are at the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and in your church. They are the fabric of society, every society, and when they feel that your services add value to the lives and companies of people like them, they will beat a path to your door.
About the Author
Wayne Messick is the author of dozens of articles for mainstream businesses, emerging professionals and association executives. If you are a small business advisor and want to maximize your Internet marketing potential like we have, here is a step by step outline of how we are using the web to generate seventy-five percent of our new business .
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