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Ten Questions for Effective Business Communications, Part 1

Ten Questions for Effective Business Communications, Part 1

This is part one of a two part series to help business owners communicate more effectively with customers and market members. Part one answers questions one through five. The questions use factual information to determine personality and social characteristics. Part two answers questions about using these characteristics to improve business communications.

Business owners can communicate more effectively with present and potential customers, by answering questions about their target markets’ characteristics. In the process, business owners will acquire a broader and deeper understanding of their customers and markets:

1. What is their age?

2. How do they earn their income?

3. What is their education level?

4. What is their gender ratio?

5. What are their national origins and cultural distinctions?

1. What is their age?

Knowing their age provides generation and life stage information that reveals attitudes, values, media and communication preferences and other characteristics that differ by generation and life stages.

Generations differ considerably from one another. If business owners develop messages based on personal preferences, their messages will be most appropriate to each business owner’s generation. But if the market is a different generation, the message will be ineffective.

The following descriptors illustrate some of the many differences by generations:

• World War II – simple, frugal, gender biased, patriotic and conservative.

• Vietnam Baby Boomers – highly individualistic, inner directed, spiritually adventurous, and workaholics.

• Me Baby Boomers – abnormally high expectations, prolonged adolescence, well-educated, and spiritually conservative.

• Generation X – ambitious, pragmatic and self-sufficient.

• Generation Y – risk adverse, pragmatic, value oriented.

2. How do they earn their income?

Occupation, rather than income, is the most important predictor of social class. Thus, knowing how people earn their income reveals their social class and in turn their concerns, values, attitudes, consumer habits and information needs.

Just like with generations, business owners generally relate best to members of their own social class. They communicate with them like they do their friends. If they communicate in the same way with customers and market members in a different social class, marketing messages will likely be ineffective.

The following occupation information illustrates some of the differences by social class:

• Upper elite class – generally don’t work, but live off their investments. Some manage large corporations.

• Middle class -work with their minds in professions that serve the upper class. They educate the children, provide medical care, and manage investments for the upper- and other middle-class people. These professionals exercise considerable control and creativity in their jobs.

• Lower class – work with their hands in routine, uncreative jobs over which they have little control.

3. What is their education level?

Education is the second most important predictor of social class. Level and type of education affects the products that people buy, the way they spend their leisure time, and provides additional information associated with social class.

People with higher and better educations have better communication and conflict resolution skills. They work better in teams and are more punctual and responsible. They vote, read and travel more, while watching television less. They save more of their money, while spending more on products that indicate status.

Thus, knowing the education level of publics reveal differences related to media choices, communication styles and effective appeals.

4. What is their gender ratio?

In addition to born physiological differences that determine behavior, men and women are socialized differently and have different life experiences based on that socialization and gender role expectations.

These differences result in men and women responding to marketing messages differently:

• the type of advice they seek and from whom,

• their exercise and recreation activities,

• the way they manage and feel about money, and

• the appeals that influence them.

Thus, targeting a gender with marketing messages can make those messages more relevant and more appealing to market members.

5. What are their national origins and cultural distinctions?

Not only do non-Caucasians differ from Caucasians, they also differ significantly between people of other national origins and cultural backgrounds. Not only do they differ between groups, they also differ within groups.

For instance, assuming that all Hispanic Americans can be reached effectively with the same message is a myth. Overcoming this and other myths in mandatory for effective communications. In reality, cultures, attitudes, and communication preferences for Hispanics from Mexico, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico differ considerabley.

Business owners can improve their marketing and other messages by segmenting by age, education level, occupation, education, gender, national origins and cultural distinctions.

These characteristics and more are discussed in a free report, on Morton’s Matrix Market Segmentation process. It explains the process, moves step-by-step through it, and demonstrates it with Internet users.

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