What is a customer persona? And, why does your business need one?
It’s important to challenge a view held by some business owners that everyone out there is–or, should be–a potential customer. It’s understandable. You strongly believe your product or service offers great value and benefits. So, why shouldn’t it be marketed to every possible target audience?
The simple answer is, this isn’t an effective way to do business. The people you want to serve are bombarded every day by marketing messages in every conceivable form. There’s a lot of “noise” out there. If your brand message doesn’t address a particular market with particular needs, it won’t be heard. There’s no such thing as “everyone.” Consumers have a very wide range of likes, dislikes, buying patterns, pain points, and so on.
By identifying and reaching out to a more targeted group of customers, you can save a vast amount of time and resources. Plus, your chances of connecting with these individuals or businesses are much better. This means that could not just close a sale, but you could make customers for life.
Crafting a profile of your ideal buyer
A customer persona (also called a “buyer persona”) is a fictional characterization of what your ideal customer looks like. This persona will give you “a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s),” notes Hubspot–an approach that’s critical “to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.”
Elements that make up a comprehensive customer persona include:
- Behavior and preferences
- Attitudes and values
- Challenges and pain points
- How your product or service meets their needs
- Channels and platforms used for media consumption and buying patterns
Going deeper, look at these factors with your team when assembling a customer profile:
- Age and marital status
- Level of education and professional background
- Where customers go for news and product research
- The factors influencing their decision to purchase a product or service
- The challenges they want to overcome
- Their personal and professional goals
This information helps you put together a strong working model of what your ideal buyer looks like. As a result, notes Business.com, your marketing message targets a specific audience, “ensuring that it speaks to their needs, their goals and their preferred channels for content consumption.”
How to gather the right data
Surprisingly, gathering and analyzing this information isn’t difficult. Thanks to the digital resources at your disposal, the information is already out there.
First, consider starting the process through one of these steps:
- Talk to customers. Go over a list of your most loyal customers and approach them about having an in-depth conversation about their needs, desires, and buying preferences.
- Ask your sales team. It’s likely members of your sales team already possess a strong working knowledge of your customers, from which certain persona-building data can be assembled.
- Survey by email. Put together a handful of key questions and do an email survey with customers. (Note: Offering an incentive like a discount on their next purchase can help boost response rates.)
Second, as noted, look to online sources for key data. Google Analytics is a no-fee service provided by Google. It offers rich insights into how people locate your business online. In addition, it shows you what they do after the fact.
Facebook and LinkedIn have a wealth of data on the individuals and businesses that follow your posts and related content. Look closely at who these people and businesses are (by checking out their social media profiles). You’ll have access to their professional backgrounds, affiliations, job functions, etc. All of this data can be mined to help build your ideal buyer profile.
The customer persona on the page
Now , it’s time to create your “ideal” persona. Generally speaking, the most effective approach involves giving a name to the fictional customer. Ideally, this is followed by a description of their age, gender, personal and professional backgrounds, and so on.
The objective is to humanize the customer. Pick them from a mountain of statistics. Give them an identity you and your employees can relate to.
Regardless of your business and industry, certain types of customers are the best audience for your product or service. Attempting to sell to “everyone out there” won’t help a business survive and grow.
Know who your customers are. Know what they like. And definitely know don’t like. Know what they hope to gain from purchasing your offering. Your knowledge of your customer base makes all the difference for 2020 and beyond.