Most small business owners understand the importance of targeting prospective customers, but few take the time to create buyer personas. If you’re serious about getting new business – whether it’s 10 or 10,000 buyers – take time to invest in this marketing activity.
What is a buyer persona? It’s an archetype, a fictitious character of the real people who might want your product or service. You may think you know your target customer, but creating a persona will help you create content that is far more effective.
When you’ve defined your buyer personas, you’ll find you can stop trying to hard-sell, and focus instead on your customer’s needs and wants. There’s a big difference. Your prospect will feel he’s been talked to rather than talked at. “Think in terms of spreading ideas rather than generating leads,” says David Meerman Scott, author of a slew of PR books, including World Wide Rave, which is available as a free download.
If you’re ready to delve deeper and get inside the hearts and minds of your prospects, here’s how to get started.
Interview your customers. Understanding what drives your buyers requires more than a three-minute chat at your place of business. You need a 20- to 30-minute conversation to find out what clinched the deal. The goal is to end up with a better understanding of potential customers. If you don’t have a marketing budget and want to do this yourself, check out HubSpot, which has a buyer persona worksheet, as well as information on how to most effectively use your buyer personas.
Interview those who didn’t buy from you. A short conversation into their lifestyle, goals, behaviors and decision-making process will give you insights that online research can’t match. Scott believes their input is even more vital than that of your current customers.
Don’t confine your interviews to one or two people. Interview a dozen. Use a prepared list of questions but ask follow-up questions to get relevant information. In addition to learning about their needs, desires, and decision-making processes, you also need to know where they get their information (newspapers, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, TV/radio, etc.).
After the interviews, get something down on paper. This can be a one-pager. Some people even give their buyer personas names. However you do it, review it regularly and be prepared to change the description of your personas from time to time. Markets do change and so do your prospects.
Use all the information you gathered to transform how you communicate. Instead of boring, tired clichés on your website, how about posing a question, then list a few bullet points to show you understand some of the problems your customers and prospects face?
Chris Ruys is passionate about helping organizations increase their visibility and build their credibility to reach their business goals and objectives. The firm, Chris Ruys Communications, does this through the development and implementation of communications strategies that include traditional and social media marketing channels. We operate in collaboration with a network of graphic designers, media & speaker training professionals, professional photographers, videographers and other specialists, as needed.