Understanding who your customers are and what motivates them to buy means better marketing and more sales. It may seem silly, but actually outlining a sketch of who your ideal customer is can be beneficial in this situation. To learn more of what a buyer persona is check out this Wikipedia definition.
Here are some suggestions for creating buyer personas.
Buyer Personas: Start With What You Know
You likely have ample information about your customers in your own database. Simply looking at your CRM system may tell you:
- Gender of your customer
- Where she lives
- What she typically buys
- How she finds your site (social media, ad, blog, etc)
If you’re more involved in customer relations, you may know your customer base pretty well. You may know what keeps them up at night and what solutions they’re seeking. This is all great information in building your buyer personas.
Segment and Separate
You may not have just one type of customer. You may have one type of customer who employs your services one time, and another type who regularly comes back to you with more projects. It’s necessary to separate out these different buyer personas, as you will build different types of relationships with each and market to them differently.
Keep in mind: trying to be all things to all types of customers rarely works. You’ll have a better success rate if you focus on connecting to each segment individually.
Once you’ve identified what you already know about your customers, do more research. Your best resource for market research is your own client base, to develop your buyer personas reach out to clients. You can use focus groups, online surveys, and phone interviews. My personal preference is to pick up the phone and have a conversation with clients. They are a deep and proven source of information.
You can also use Internet research to gather more data and don’t forget to check out your competition to see who they are targeting and how they are positioned. I usually like to choose some of the top competitors and some that I know are failing and take a look at what both are doing and the type of buyer personas they are focusing on.
If you have an active presence on social media sites like Twitter or LinkedIn, these can also be great market research tools. Pose questions you want answers to that will help you better understand the motivations of your customers, like:
- Where do you go to get information about [your type of service or product]?
- What influences you more: advertising or a blog post?
- How much money do you spend on [your type of service or product]?
- Why did they choose you?
- What other products and services do they need that you could offer?
Ask the questions you can’t otherwise find answers to. If you’re having difficulty getting your social media followers or online survey participants to reply, consider offering an incentive, such as a discount or free service in exchange for taking a short survey.
Building the Persona
Once you have all the information you can glean about who your customers are, what their buying patterns are, and what motivates them to make purchases, draft a narrative describing your buyer persona.
Be as detailed as possible. You can even give your persona a name:
“Lawyer Lynne” is 43, married, and has two teenage children. She runs her own law practice and has a small staff. When she’s looking for help with her IT needs, she asks colleagues and reads the local business magazine for advice. For problems that she or her staff can’t fix themselves, she hires an IT consultant, who she pays on a per-project basis.
This may not describe an actual customer of yours, but you can piece together information to create an amalgam of a customer.
Why Personas Matter
When you’re marketing your professional services, you need to understand exactly who your customer is and how she best processes information when looking for services like yours. If she reads blogs, you can target your content to help her solve problems or convince her of the value of your services. The more targeted your content, the better you are able to move her into your lead list.
Understand, too, that potential customers will all be at different stages of the buying process (more about that in a future post). Ideally, you can reach them before they’re ready to buy, so that you can work on building trust with that potential customer. Then, when she’s ready to buy the services you offer, you’ll be at the top of her list.