People Watching 101—An important Marketing Tool

Have you ever sat down on a park bench or table in your mall food court (really anywhere in a populated area) and just people watched?

To People Watch (v.): to observe, in silence, the surrounding population’s individualism to obtain their personality traits or overall view of the world.

Truthfully, this is a habit I have been doing since I was little. My mom and I would go to the park, lie out at the beach, or even drink our milkshakes on the sidewalk in front of our house, and just watch people. In some ways, it was humorous; in others, it slowed down the world in such a way that from watching what people did (without judgment) allowed us to understand the world better.  You got to see a different side of people, and you also paid attention to people that, because many of our lives are so busy, we would just skip over. It gives a different outlook on things. And thus why I use it, or a version of it, as a marketing person today.

Isn’t people watching just a waste of time? Don’t you have better things and more productive things to do? NO! People watching is essential for any marketing personnel and sales representative. It’s the way in which we learn from who our target audience is and how we can better market, sell, and attract them to us. Take this for an example: Many companies have a tracker on the backend of their website. When a person with a registered IP address visits their site, they can see what company you are from, what pages you have viewed, how long you were on there, where you went to next, etc. Those are all classified as habits or behaviors in which marketers gain knowledge from.

These “behaviors” are associated with personality traits. When we people watch, we are examining their unique psychological characteristics that creates their overall behavior—and in this case, their buying behavior. Just as in results from a personality test, a person’s buying behavior can be classified as aggressive, defensive, or adaptable. From these, and of course other characteristics, you start building a customer profile. Add in ethnicity, geographical location, language, gender, and other general physiognomies with more specific interests to your company—such as types of software they are currently using, pages they most frequent, at what time of day or day of the week do they often visit your site (best to use in order to know when to contact them), how many employees does their company have, what are their departments, who do they cater to?

All of these little behaviors that you can collect just by sitting down and watching, not bombarding them with questions, can ultimately produce critical data. Yes, this is just for one customer but imagine doing this for all of them. How much valuable information would a marketer obtain? Loads.

Last example, promise. At KTL, we host an annual User Conference. Current clients and prospects attend from all over the east coast, and sometimes even as far out as California. At this time each year, we start deciding which Microsoft location we will be using to host our event at. In order to do this, we start gathering our data; the behaviors of past attendees, who we hope will be new attendees, and some other various variables. Using technology such as BI 360 that many of our consultants are familiar with, we place our data in and analyze it. We combine the behaviors including travel time, location from which their offices are, etc. and come up with a convenient environment in which we should host our event at. From this data and it’s other existing variables, we even can choose what types of sessions would be most appreciated by our attendees, or tracks that should be followed, etc.

Now of course for this specific event, I as a marketing coordinator, have to keep up with this real time data. If our attendee’s behavior starts changing, I have to adapt to it. If more GP customers come than CRM, I have to change around our schedule and sessions to accommodate.

Overall, for any event, campaign, or marketing technique, people watching is imperative. It allows marketers and sales representatives (as well as at times, higher ranks on the totem poles) insight into who their audience is and how they can better adjust their overall message to be more effective.  I find it most humorous that many marketing and sales personnel are often categorized as the aggressors of their organizations; but in order to be the most successful at getting the message across, you must first sit back and watch quietly as you might miss something pertinent to your overall approach. You must, in a sense, people watch.


ELIZABETH MORIS | Marketing Coordinator

Elizabeth is responsible for the development and management of KTL’s marketing department while designing and overseeing marketing operations and campaign planning. With her creativity and design background, Elizabeth maintains KTL’s branding efforts, marketing plans, social media marketing, and performance improvement strategies. She also manages the consistency and fluidity of different collateral mediums making sure KTL’s main image and goal are continuous. Her specialties include graphic design, content editing, event planning, tracking analytical data, public relations, integrated marketing, social media marketing, and print and web design. Elizabeth is proficient in Adobe Suite and Microsoft Office. She attained a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications and Commercial Design from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA and a Master of Arts in Publication Design from the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Md.

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