Kelly McDonald: Know Your Customers – Really, Really Well

America is no longer a melting pot–it’s a salad bowl.

That’s the point of view presented by Kelly McDonald of McDonald Marketing at A

Kelly McDonald

Kelly McDonald

uto Glass Week October 7 in San Antonio, Texas.

McDonald covered a wide range of topics in her presentation, “Crafting a Customer Experience for People Not Like You,” and broke down the vast customer market into a set of strategies designed to improve marketing for local business owners.

Pointing to demographic trends that indicate 7 percent of the American population, or 22 million people, is now defined as “multiracial,” she said America is less the melting pot of

old, in which races and ethnicities blend into a single “American” identity. Instead, the country is like a salad bowl–a combination of discrete ingredients, each with its unique identity, all sharing the same space.

This perspective, McDonald said, requires a marketing approach that is savvy, focused and customized.

“This is not a fad,” she said to the room of about 40 attendees Friday morning. “It’s a trend. Pay no attention to fads, but do pay attention to trends.”

Diversity, she explained, means more than demographics. It means understanding people who “are not like you” – in several different ways, such as age/generation, physical abilities, rural/metro, among others.

“Understanding someone different from you means understanding their life,” McDonald said, pointing out that a person’s priorities, values and experiences are what defines that person’s perspective.

Successful marketing, she said, realizes these factors and is built around a set of strategies designed to touch all possible customers, regardless of their “differences.”

Those strategies, which she laid out in the hour-long presentation are:

  1. Figure out your “FAB” – features, attributes, benefits – and market your benefits, not your features.
  2. Tap into values: “People spend money on what they care about,” McDonald said. Different groups have different values, and must be appealed to accordingly.
  3. Foster a culture of empathy. Part of doing this, she said, is to “hire the right person, not the resume. Many jobs are teachable, so don’t be afraid to recruit from ‘new ponds.’”
  4. Recognize different needs. Even the largest companies tweak their inventory, McDonald said, noting that available products in these companies differ by region, so know your market.
  5. Use consumer insight. Know the difference between marketing for men and marketing for women, she said.
  6. Relieve pain. McDonald point to Amazon’s “one click” purchasing capability as an example. Consumers want a “painless” shopping experience. For example, she noted, women prefer security and great personal service.
  7. Pay attention to trends. Mass is out, customization is in, McDonald said, particularly with younger consumers such as millennials. Also, trends ignite business.
  8. Use contemporary images. In other words, she said, “show people as they really are.” The “appeal of real” is strong.
  9. Keep it short. McDonald pointed to the growing use of “listicles” – lists presented as articles, especially online, that are easy, short reads yet convey a wealth of information.
  10. Helping beats selling. Advice is more important to today’s consumer than information, McDonald said. “If you help me, you don’t have to sell me.”

Finally, McDonald said, a customer’s “perspective is never wrong. It can’t be. It’s how they see the world.”

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