Understanding why your customers do what they do is just as important as communicating your own brand ethos back to them. The intersection of those two “whys” is the key to an engaged and loyal following.

In order to better communicate and engage your brand community, you need to understand who you are speaking with and how they make decisions on their journey to purchase. In today’s social world, CMOs need to think about how to create positive, engaging conversations, not just marketing campaigns. You’ll need to look a little deeper for inspiration to find out when and why your customers do the things they do.

When you talk about “why” and seek to understand what motivates and inspires your targeted brand community, keep in mind, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” as so beautifully said by leadership expert Simon Sinek in a TED Talk on inspiring action.

Understanding Your Audience

As marketers, we need to try and understand the individuals that will be interacting with our brand in order to respect and engage with them – something too many brands don’t do. Citing a 2013 study by Yesmail Interactive, think-tank Loyalty360 wrote that “80% of consumer-facing companies don’t understand their customers beyond basic demographics and purchase history.”

“Companies need access to more robust sources of data and technology that allows them to communicate via multiple channels and send meaningful, relevant message streams,” said Michael Fisher, president of Yesmail Interactive, at the time the study’s findings were released. “If brands are not relevant at scale, their customers will find another brand that is.”

After developing that understanding, brands can then give their audience something remarkable to talk about. After all, we want to create a brand community where people feel they belong and where they can connect with something special. Inspire them with a reason to believe why we do what we do.

We want to create a brand community where people feel they belong and where they can connect with something special. Inspire them with a reason to believe why we do what we do.

Don’t forget this community begins from the inside out since every interaction with your brand, including your employees, can ultimately help drive the level of brand engagement we should all be striving for. As the well-known saying goes, “People won’t always remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

Connect Your ‘Why’ With Their ‘Why’

There are many influences over choice that require both B2B and B2C businesses to understand and take actions quickly to reflect changes in decision-maker preferences. Our purpose as engagement marketers is to understand the behaviour and influence them along their journey towards making a purchase, focusing in on the triggers for the “decision point” and ultimately the remarkable brand experience that your product or service offers.

Our purpose as engagement marketers is to understand the behaviour and influence them along their journey towards making a purchase.

Understanding the drivers of purchase for different types of customers and reacting quickly to changes in their preferences is a challenging task given the rapid rate of change, the excess influences on decision-making and a growing number of available options. How can we better recognize changing preferences in time to act upon and influence them?

Whether we are launching new products or services, developing supporting promotional themes and messaging, or even in the one-to-one sales process, knowledge of each customer type and their decision-making “hot buttons” is critical. It all starts from the inside of understanding why they do what they do and how it connects with the why we do what we do.

In an iMedia Connection list of brands that emotionally connect with their customers, Whole Foods is an excellent example of a brand that understands its desired consumers’ decision-making factors and has adapted its model to meet those needs.

By understanding the “why” of their customers’ desire to lead a healthy lifestyle, Whole Foods can cater its own “why” to meet those needs.

“Whole Foods understands that it is not just selling groceries; it is supporting a lifestyle focused on health and wellness,” writes Gordon Plutsky.

Breaking Consumer Habits

Cognitive psychology, particularly research dealing with experience-based decision-making, tells us that consumers use rule sets or past experience to cope with the vast array of information they are presented with. Once these rules are developed, they turn into “habits” or “autopilot” responses.

Research tells us consumers use rule sets or past experience that turn into “habits” or “autopilot” responses.

For customers, the reasons for the initial brand choice are often forgotten, as are the reasons for the habit. Moments of change when key rules are reviewed are very infrequent and often come a result of external factors that we, as brand engagement marketers, can help influence.

With all of this in mind, I recommend that you consider understanding your customers’ emotional character type, which focuses in on the behaviour of a specific targeted individual or decision-making unit.

Some of the biggest drivers of the marketing approach are not always whether it is B2B or B2C, but rather in the type of product or service and the size of the financial risk versus value, plus the nature of the relationship and the emotional complexity of the decision-making process. Secondary drivers can be timing for the need or want, and the way in which customers are being marketed to can also have great influence.

So dive into the mind of your targeted customers and future brand advocates. Define the “WHY” and start building your very own cult following.