Yes, understanding your business (think: value proposition, mission statement) is important. But I’d argue that truly understanding your customers is even more crucial. If you don’t know your target customers, how can you successfully market and sell your products and services?
Creating buyer personas, a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, is one of the best ways to generate leads and ultimately close sales. There are dozens of questions you could ask yourself, your team and your customers to help develop buyer personas. To keep from getting bogged down in too many details, here are five of my favorite strategies for creating buyer personas.
Don’t focus on yourself.
It may be tempting to ask questions like: What’s so great about our organization? Why are our products and services the best? But try not to focus on yourself. Take a step back and put yourself in the mindset of your customers. What does a typical day look like? What brought them to you and why? For example, was it a referral, price or convenience? This will help you determine what is most important in their buying process.
Focus on goals, challenges and pain points.
What were your customers trying to achieve by working with you or purchasing your product or service? Equally as important, is there something they were trying to avoid? For example, a direct mail company: Do most clients come to you because they don’t have time to coordinate advertising efforts while running their business? Or were they seeking your expertise to avoid past failed attempts at marketing? Use those things to craft messaging and promotions that will resonate.
Look for trends.
Take a look at your customer base (preferably your most profitable customers in particular), and see if you can find any trends. Are they mostly women or men? Do they fall into a particular age group or profession? What does a typical day look like? Finding common denominators will help you home in on who you should be talking to.
Think ideal, not “any.”
When asked who you’re targeting, it’s easy to fall into the trap of: “anyone who will buy my services.” But that’s not the best approach. Focus on your ideal, which sometimes means most profitable, customer and what makes them ideal. It could be that they are repeat customers, refer business to you or they’re just easy to work with.
Whenever possible, ask.
Make a point to ask your customers why they chose to work with you. It’s great to pull a team together at your organization to come up with buyer personas, but the very best thing you can do to truly understand your customers is to ask them directly. If you have a great relationship with multiple customers, reach out to them. Let them know they’re wonderful to work with and that you’d appreciate their help finding more customers just like them. They may even be excited to help!
One of the great things about buyer personas is that they’re fluid, meaning they’re easily updated or changed as your business changes. Don’t be afraid to tweak your personas if you find something isn’t accurate or things change in the marketplace.
Creating buyer personas can be a time-consuming exercise, but remember that in the end it will help ensure you’re saying the right thing to the right person at the right time.