Customer Scenarios — Why We Like Them

Here at Radar Media we do a lot of work with Microsoft and its partners. While you can easily argue about what it does wrong in marketing (remember Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld? Ouch.) one thing we’ve learned from Microsoft — and incorporated into our own practice — is the regular use of customer scenarios.

A customer scenario is really nothing more than how a particular type of customer is most inclined to use your product or service. If you build high end mountain bikes, for example, a likely customer scenario would be a male between the ages of 35 and 45 who values good design and quality components (as found on your pricey machines) and has the money to pay for them. Based on your sales results or other market inputs, like pay per click ad results, you will likely identify other customer scenarios that are similar or even quite different.

Once your key customer scenarios are known, it’s time to put them to work on your website and other marketing materials. We’ve found it helps to write down characteristics that apply to each customer type (a simple bullet list works fine) and then to refer to this as you think through the content and design of the project.

In the case of the mountain bike manufacturer, your message can really be well targeted once you know that your high end mountain bike is a luxury purchase most likely to be made by a successful male who is married, drives a luxury automobile, and appreciates fine craftsmanship like quality welds. And because even well-off individuals must still justify their purchases, targeting an email marketing campaign during those times when cash frees up, like when tax refunds are in the mail, makes sense.

Customer scenarios are especially important when you have two or more different target markets. One web redesign project from a couple of years ago was like this. Our client offered an online loan service to help its customers cover the cost of tuition for children enrolled in private middle and high schools. Two quite different versions of the service were offered. One targeted the parents sending their children to private schools. The other package was targeted to the schools themselves, particularly the principals and administrators at these schools, who would then resell the service to parents.

Because our client did not segregate these different customer scenarios well on its old site, people found the site confusing. Messages that were not appropriate for parents were being read by the schools, and vice versa.

For the new site, the first thing we did was to model these two customer scenarios. Next, we decided to create a new homepage with two distinct doorways — one for parents, the other for school administrators. Once visitors went through these doorways, they entered “mini sites” that were targeted 100% for them. Needless to say, the new site was much easier to understand and navigate.

Until next time….