You may know who your customers are, but do you know why you should know this?

You may think you do, but the answer to that question may be a bit more complicated than it seems at first glance.

Your business or organization probably keeps track of basic demographics like the age, gender, and the income of your customers, members, or donors. If you’re a B2B company, you may keep track of firmographics — for example, the annual revenue of your clients or how many employees they have. If you’re not yet collecting data like this yet, you can get started by surveying your contacts.

This quantitative information is a great place to start. With it you can begin to form an outline of what your customer, member, client, or donor base looks like. But to add some color between the lines, you need qualitative information as well. It’s like any good sportscast — one commentator focuses on the facts, the other fills in the interesting details. For example, a play-by-play commentator might tell you that Tampa Bay was beating up on Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, but the color commentator will explain that his ankle injury is impeding his performance.

There’s a lot of competition out there — not just for your business, but for your customers, clients, members, and donors’ attention as well. If your newsletters, Facebook posts, or offers don’t directly speak to the needs and wants of those you come in contact with, chances are good your messages will be ignored. And to an engagement marketer, there’s nothing worse than the sound of crickets.

To make sure you’re hitting the right notes in your email and social media efforts, here are the three things you should know about your customers, clients, members, and donors:

  1. What do they want or need? What pain point does your business or organization solve for them?
  2. What do they value? In other words, why do they value your product, service, or organization above your competitors?
  3. What kind of information do they need before purchasing, donating, or recommending your organization? What content inspires them to take action?

Why is this information valuable? Because knowing your customers, clients, members, and donors’ pain points and what they value they can make the difference between a one-time sale and a long-term relationship. Knowing what your customers, clients, members, and donors value gives you a vastly different perspective than merely knowing that the average one is 42, female, and lives in Kalamazoo.

How have you gotten to know your customers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.