Knowing your customers

We all think we know our customers but how often have you actually analysed the exact type of customer you have, and does that match the type of customer you really want?

But isn’t any customer a good customer, so, therefore, we should appeal to everyone. The unfortunate consequence of defining your offering to as many people as possible is that it starts to appeal to everyone and no one at the same time. To reach such a broad audience means that the messages have to be general, vague to the point of almost becoming wallpaper or background noise. Think how much more your sales proposition would resonate with the potential customer if it spoke directly to them and addressed their specific needs.

To do this we use a technique called ‘buyer personas’, or you may have heard it called something similar to customer profiling, it is basically the same thing only a buyer persona is very specifically aimed at determining how you can help someone solve a problem or their immediate need. So, let’s have a look at how buyer personas work.

To begin with, what is a buyer persona. Well, a buyer persona is a detailed profile that describes your ideal customer and it works because it’s based on defining the challenges they face and how they make decisions. Decisions that include how and where to holiday.
Many businesses have multiple buyer personas - it may be members of a family or a friendship group, a special interest group or individuals seeking a specific experience.

The best way to explain their importance is that buyer personas help ensure that all the activities you undertake to gather new customers are specifically tailored to your target customer’s needs.

Sounds obvious? Well, it’s not always that simple.

More often than not you will see a company, across all of its platforms, talking about what they do – not what the customer is looking for. And this puts them at odds with the way people make decisions. People buy from those they trust and to gain customers, you need to gain their trust and that means a subtle, but important, shift in the way in which you present yourself.

Firstly, show your potential customers that you understand them by addressing the need they are trying to satisfy. Once you have built that first bit of rapport you will have their attention. From there you can wrap them up and bring them in as a customer.

The process of creating a buyer persona, keeping it updated and fresh will guide your business and keep it focused on what your customers need.

Sound interesting? Then let’s look at creating buyer personas.
This begins with a little introspection - who is your ideal customer, what do they look like, where do they work, what do they enjoy, what things will they find appealing and how your business can present itself in a way that helps them to fulfil their needs.

But buyer personas are not only for large businesses with marketing teams, they also work for solopreneurs and very small businesses because it always helps to clearly define what customers you are going after.

So how do you create a buyer persona that works?
They can be complex - built around a combination of internal and external research, some businesses will need multiple personas to represent different types of customers. However, it may be helpful to start small, identify just three personas and work through building them out, let them evolve over time. The simplest method is to take one target customer, one that represents a group that you would like more of, and then build a persona based on what you already know, enhance it with a little more research - satisfaction surveys, secondary sources etc.

We have an in-depth buyer persona creation guide, but that may be running before you can walk, drop us an email and we will send you a copy, or you may like to start small and feel your way forward.

A one-page buyer persona is a nice and easy place to begin - work up a set of key questions you would want to know to better understand your prospective customers. When it’s complete you can build it out by talking with existing customers, asking them to complete simple surveys.

Buyer personas are living documents but they should be easy to create and maintain, evolving as you discover more about your ideal customers.

Once you have created buyer personas that address the needs of your desired customers, you can start to apply that to how you market your business.

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