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  #1  
Old 12-19-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Web Design: Who is the 'Ideal' TI Customer?

As part of our site update I've been told I must answer this question, both by our likely internet marketing consultant, and by Suzanne.

The ideal customer is the person most likely to find value in TI products or services. The ideal customer is no doubt strongly represented among Forum regulars -- but there's not complete overlap. As Suzanne reminded me, some avid Forum-goers are not even customers -- if that is defined as having made a purchase of any kind.

The importance of accurately defining that person (and 2nd and 3rd tier customers) is that you then focus your most visible web messages on them. The 2nd and 3rd tier customers will follow their curiosity to 'inside' pages that address their concerns and goals.

Being pushed to think about this has been a valuable exercise which showed me how diffuse our messages have been. Because I'm interested in 'all things swimming' my writing and TI itself has tended, at times, to be a bit diffuse. E.G. The Combat Swimmer DVD.

Suzanne told me I need to create an Ideal Customer 'avatar' - a highly detailed portrait prior to embarking on redesign. Here's what I came up with:

Age: Baby Boomer - between mid-40s and early 60s.

Gender: Somewhat more likely to be male than female - in part because a lot of our early 'customer acquisition' occurred when triathlon was over 70% male.

Household Income: upper-middle, between $70k and $125k

Well-educated, intellectually curious and open-minded,

Swimming Experience: 75% less than 3 years; 95% 'adult-onset' swimmers

Support?: Self-coached.

Goals: Modest. Swim with comfort, ease and enjoyment. Understand enough to make sound choices and use time well. Be able to swim a mile or more continuously and feel good - ready to swim another - upon finishing.

Values or Priorities 80% or more are Healthseekers - including the majority of new triathletes; 10-20% are Achievement seekers. More likely to describe self as 'active' than athletic.

Aspirations? Fill in the blank.

What do you think?

How closely does this profile fit you?
In what ways does it differ - and why?
What key elements of your makeup have I overlooked?

We plan to do an email survey of the 80,000 folks on our email data base very shortly. I'm working this week on drafting the questions. Your input will be most helpful.

If any of you have experience with market research, I would welcome your help with creating the survey.
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Terry Laughlin
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 12-19-2011 at 03:08 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-19-2011
dshen dshen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
As part of our site update I've been told I must answer this question, both by our likely internet marketing consultant, and by Suzanne.

The ideal customer is the person most likely to find value in TI products or services. The ideal customer is no doubt strongly represented among Forum regulars -- but there's not complete overlap. As Suzanne reminded me, some avid Forum-goers are not even customers -- if that is defined as having made a purchase of any kind.

The importance of accurately defining that person (and 2nd and 3rd tier customers) is that you then focus your most visible web messages on them. The 2nd and 3rd tier customers will follow their curiosity to 'inside' pages that address their concerns and goals.

Being pushed to think about this has been a valuable exercise which showed me how diffuse our messages have been. Because I'm interested in 'all things swimming' my writing and TI itself has tended, at times, to be a bit diffuse. E.G. The Combat Swimmer DVD.

Suzanne told me I need to create an Ideal Customer 'avatar' - a highly detailed portrait prior to embarking on redesign. Here's what I came up with:

Age: Baby Boomer - between mid-40s and early 60s.

Gender: Somewhat more likely to be male than female - in part because a lot of our early 'customer acquisition' occurred when triathlon was over 70% male.

Household Income: upper-middle, between $70k and $125k

Well-educated, intellectually curious and open-minded,

Swimming Experience: 75% less than 3 years; 95% 'adult-onset' swimmers

Support?: Self-coached.

Goals: Modest. Swim with comfort, ease and enjoyment. Understand enough to make sound choices and use time well. Be able to swim a mile or more continuously and feel good - ready to swim another - upon finishing.

Values or Priorities 80% or more are Healthseekers - including the majority of new triathletes; 10-20% are Achievement seekers. More likely to describe self as 'active' than athletic.

Aspirations? Fill in the blank.

What do you think?

How closely does this profile fit you?
In what ways does it differ - and why?
What key elements of your makeup have I overlooked?
HA! well that target customer fits me perfectly!

However, before I comment further it would be helpful for me as a new member of the TI coach community to more fully understand what the future vision for Total Immersion as a company, as a movement, as a training method, as a method for life, etc. is.

Once I know what that is, then I can tell you if your target customer is good/bad/too narrow/too broad.

thanks!
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Old 12-19-2011
terry terry is offline
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David
We've been advised to define the target customer in a highly detailed manner.

That definition will most likely come from an email survey we'll send to our data base of some 80,000 email contacts.

What's our goal? To understand the most common and compelling needs, desires, problems and conundrums of adult swimmers and provide answers, encouragement and support that informs, inspires and - most of all- works better than any alternative.

Heretofore our decisions and initiatives have been a bit too likely to be influenced by my subjective impressions, anecdotal experiences - and even what has most closely occupied my attention in my own swimming at a given moment.

I want TI to be much more Customer Focused going forward. Unlike Steve Jobs, I think it's a good idea to ask the customer what they want. And perhaps (likely with good reason) I trust my instincts less than he did his.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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  #4  
Old 12-19-2011
dshen dshen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
David
We've been advised to define the target customer in a highly detailed manner.

That definition will most likely come from an email survey we'll send to our data base of some 80,000 email contacts.

What's our goal? To understand the most common and compelling needs, desires, problems and conundrums of adult swimmers and provide answers, encouragement and support that informs, inspires and - most of all- works better than any alternative.

Heretofore our decisions and initiatives have been a bit too likely to be influenced by my subjective impressions, anecdotal experiences - and even what has most closely occupied my attention in my own swimming at a given moment.

I want TI to be much more Customer Focused going forward. Unlike Steve Jobs, I think it's a good idea to ask the customer what they want. And perhaps (likely with good reason) I trust my instincts less than he did his.
I am very familiar with this process.

But there is one issue with this process and that is it only services what is known. It does little to address where you want move towards, which can be relatively new territory.

The famous example was when a major car manufacturer was designing a new car. So they went out and asked a whole bunch of people whether they would buy it. Many said yes and the car manufacturer went ahead and made the car. However, when the produced the car, it did not sell at all! Thus was realized that surveys had a major danger inherent in that process for information discovery and creating strategy around it. People often didn't actually do what they said they would especially when it came with parting with their money.

Although that example does not quite accurately depict the situation you're in, it does illustrate this fact - by surveying your known universe of users, it only means that you will service those customers more effectively. so for that it is great. but if you want TI to grow and be huge, you may need to figure out how to make TI relevant to other types of target customers.

This is why i asked for your vision of TI. if your vision is to infuse TI swimming principles into every swimmer across the US, then I think your target customer definition process will yield too narrow results. if your vision is to continue to further service that target demographic, then yes this information and process is good.

for the record, i am not saying TI should be one way or the other. I only didn't want you to limit TI if that wasn't your vision.

re: customer focused process

yes i applaud this. involving the customer is very important in many phases of building the company and business. we should continue to do this as much as possible. happy to talk more about this - there are many movements in the startup world using this method and model right now.
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Old 12-19-2011
dshen dshen is offline
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Oh I should say that there is also nothing wrong with talking to customers who are not your current customers. These can also generate target customers segments like the one you asked for comments on; they just aren't your customers now but those in the future.

This is also part of my comment about vision. If your vision is to reach broader, then I think your target segment is too limiting. If your vision is not so broad, then I think your target is fine.
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Old 12-19-2011
Scotty Scotty is offline
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Your intuitive effort to develop a profile of the typical TI customer fits me like a glove. I also think that your current audience is technologially savvy and would prefer alternatives in how your product is distributed and a broader array of information.

As you think about strategies for expanding TI's reach, include questions in your survey that help focus and define how technology factors into your future vision for the website, product delivery, and TI's future profitability. My guess is that your sales potential is enormous if TI products are tailored to specific user needs. Technology allows you to cost-effectively reach customer niche markets.

I also think that TI could leverage its considerable appeal and brand by developing highly selective alliances with certain vendors. You don't have to try to do everything by yourself.

In the past five years, TI has made a contribution to my physical health, provided me a supportive and entertaining swimming community, and bolstered my confidence. I can't wait to experience what the next five years brings.

Scotty
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  #7  
Old 12-19-2011
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dshen View Post
By surveying your known universe of users, it only means that you will service those customers more effectively. so for that it is great. but if you want TI to grow and be huge, you may need to figure out how to make TI relevant to other types of target customers.
David
Thanks for your comments. Your questions will help me clarify what I'm seeking at this moment. I can best answer this way:
1) I strongly believe TI's broadest principles -- pursue harmony with the water and pay attention to what you're doing -- can improve any form, use or objective of swimming. Thus my dream is to see TI influence and imbue all aquatic teaching and practice, for all objectives. However . . .
2) Our short-term goal is to grow as a company to acquire the resources to achieve broader influence. We can best do that by providing better service to the people we already know are most likely to respond positively to our message. And make sure more people like them know we exist.

What I especially love about the adult-onset swimmer I described at the top of this thread is that they come with no preconceptions and generally don't have coaches. They appreciate the common sense aspect of the TI Method and value the holistic approach. If I spent the rest of my life serving such people, it would be a very good life indeed.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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Old 12-20-2011
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Terry,

I feel that I too fit your profile very closely as well. And I look forward to your survey.

The only key element not addressed on your list, in my case, would be a lack of confidence. In any activity where a new skill is required, the mental state contains great control of that skill through a level of confidence .

So if deemed worthy of consideration some aspect of sports psychology as related to swimming may be of value on the new site - even if only references or links as to where information might be found. I'm certainly an open minded person and willing to accept challenges but that doesn't mean there is a lot of confidence to go along with that acceptance of the challenge.

My next short term goal is to gain enough ability and confidence to take on the diving board.

My personal aspirations? A, To gain enough ability so that a level of solid confidence is developed - such that at some point I may even find myself in the position to seek becoming a certified TI instructor.

And B, to live long enough for A to happen!

Mike
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Old 12-20-2011
rbs24h rbs24h is offline
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"to grow as a company and acquire the resources..."

Hi Terry,

I take this to mean simply, Top Line and Bottom Line Revenue growth. That being said, from my own experience, the adult onset "triathlete" or experienced but not necessarily "elite" triathlete, seems to me to be AN ideal customer(s). All of the characteristics you mention plus a "Captured Target Audience/Market" at any Triathlon event, especially a Sprint Tri anywhere, likely with an urgent desire to improve. I don't know how aggressively you have marketed to this group already, but I just cannot believe that there are not many new or current triathletes (and I believe it is a rapidly growing sport) that would love to have the experience I have had with TI, if they knew of TI. My experience:
March 2011- First Triathlon
Reverse Sprint 150m Swim in Pool 5 minutes, had to rest after each 50
May 2011
First Open Water Sprint Tri, 300m, panic attack, 9 minutes
July 2011
Started TI (found it on the web somehow)
September 2011 First Race Since Starting TI
Olympic Distance Tri, 1500m Ocean Swim. Up and down coast swim, Time 30:31 Top 1/3 Finish
Yesterday December 18, 2011
Long Beach, CA Sprint Tri 500m (Ocean Harbor) 7th out of water of 62.
Time is skewed because course was mis-measured. That or I set a world record :) with 6 others...

Today, back in pool, swam a mile. Because I love it.

I am 48 years old and have had no swimming coaching or experience prior to this year.
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Old 12-20-2011
dshen dshen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
2) Our short-term goal is to grow as a company to acquire the resources to achieve broader influence. We can best do that by providing better service to the people we already know are most likely to respond positively to our message. And make sure more people like them know we exist.

What I especially love about the adult-onset swimmer I described at the top of this thread is that they come with no preconceptions and generally don't have coaches. They appreciate the common sense aspect of the TI Method and value the holistic approach. If I spent the rest of my life serving such people, it would be a very good life indeed.
taking the second comment first, yes then your described demographic is perfect for this.

however, i would suggest adding another target demographic: the triathlete. while a lot of triathletes are older, there are many who are younger as well and it's still a very strong trend that's spreading throughout the US and world. most of these people are swimming either for the first time in their lives or returning to swimming and all are competitive and willing to figure out how to swim faster in the most efficient way possible and pay for it. as Shinji and Dave Cameron have noted, many of their students are triathletes, especially those that come to the workshops.


Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
1) I strongly believe TI's broadest principles -- pursue harmony with the water and pay attention to what you're doing -- can improve any form, use or objective of swimming. Thus my dream is to see TI influence and imbue all aquatic teaching and practice, for all objectives. However . . .
for this broader goal (which I love by the way and glad you said it), might i suggest adding two more:

1. under-21, or still in school (ie. kindergarten to college including grad school which probably means under 21 slides to early-mid 20s)

these are characterized by swimming mostly for competition or because their parents put them on swim team. i think you be hard pressed to find young swimmers who just swim for the love of it; i think that most are swimming on teams. they most likely have little or no money themselves and parents pay for most of what they do - slightly less true in the latter half of this age group but still money is tight. they require specialized training techniques, and also require mktg to high school and college coaches to train them in TI techniques for youths and teens.

2. after graduation, until about the bottom of your original target demographic around 40 yrs old.

now people are busy. they are working. but they have more disposable income and are starting to workout for health and fitness, even as some find time to compete (so crossover to triathletes, and the competitive race in masters meets). some want to take up swimming, some have been swimming since their younger years. they are starting to develop the mental and emotional awareness that doing things for internal growth is good, although external growth is still dominant.

now having not sat in on your web design discussions - it is my belief that you can create 1) a message that can encompass all 4 target groups, and 2) design/experience of the website and your other materials that support that message, and 3) thus aim TI towards your loftier goal beyond your short term goal.

my fear is that if you focus on that one demographic, that what you create will pigeonhole TI into only a swim method for old guys who have never swam before or similar which we all know is not true, but coaches all like to bash on one each other and that bashing can get out to the general public which will affect who seeks out TI.

our message and branding is something we want our swimmers to align with and hopefully feel great about themselves that they are aligned with TI. we don't want them to feel any negativity from brand alignment, and the right message you craft, as well as the services you provide to support that message and mission, will drive customers to you because they seek the positive alignment.
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