Demographics: What’s it mean?

Not a yawner. You actually need Demographics!

Demographics are as simple as the story in the children’s book, Are You My Mother?

A lost baby bird searches for his mother, asking a kitten, hen, dog, cow, car, boat, plane and even a steam shovel if they were its mother. Because the poor bird apparently has no idea what its mother looks like, practically anything looks like his mother.

Junk Leads Anyone?

B2B marketers make the same mistake. In the vacuum of a clearly articulated customer profile, any sales lead looks like a potential customer. When leads like these arrive in the sales department—no surprise—they’re instantly labeled as “Junk Leads.”


Demographics are identifiable, measurable characteristics of your best customers and form the basis of your customer profile. Demographics act like a filter. They are your first line of defense. Only the leads matching your criteria get through.

Demographics include information/data fields like (think magazine qualification forms):

  • Name
  • Zip code
  • Gender
  • Company size
  • Job function/Title
  • Sales volume
  • Number of employees
  • SIC code

You can go out and buy/rent a list based on the above database selections.

Build On Them

Your customer profile (or as I like to call it, your customer qualification matrix) builds upon your customer demographics. Where demographics is largely data-driven, your customer profile includes additional, detailed information, most of which is not generally available in a purchased or rented list and requires some level of human research.

By way of example, here’s my own customer profile/qualification matrix:


How it’s done, son

This is how you arm your marketing team and sales reps (and everyone else in your company…hey, even your suppliers can refer business to you with a profile like this).

Otherwise, you and your company will be just like the little bird:

“He did not know what his mother looked like. He went right by her. He did not see her.”

PS, next week I’ll explore the meaning of “Qualification Process” and share with you a simple acronym to help you remember the steps.

  • Brenda Taylor

    Once again, John, a terrific post. You boiled it down for me. Thanks!

    On a related note, I wonder if you saw this week’s Marketing Sherpa newsletter. There’s a nice graphic on the Marketing-to-Sales Processes.

    It says that only 44% of companies “have a system for rating qualified and warm leads.” I’m not sure if the “system” they’re referring to includes a customer qualification matrix, but I suspect that it does.

    And if that’s the case, the majority of B2B marketers are looking for their ‘mothers’ in all the wrong places (to loosely quote Waylon Jennings…).

  • John Fox

    @Brenda Taylor: Yes I saw the Marketing Sherpa article. I think it’s fair to say that a customer qualification matrix (or customer profile) is one important piece in the system they’re referring to, but not the entire system.

    And thanks for the Waylon Jennings lyric.

  • John Savage

    It’s fair to say that our marketing has delivered leads that look like kittens, hens, dogs, cows, cars, boats, planes and a steam shovel. But most are dogs.

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