It’s human nature to be cautious of the unknown. We associate not knowing what to expect with danger or failure. As a result, we arm ourselves with planners, reminders and meetings to prepare for what is to come. With all of the ways in which we insist on being informed, we sometimes miss the mark. Though you might think you have your customers figured out, do you really know who they are?
Going in blind
Consider the memorable reality T.V. show, Blind Date, where strangers agreed to go on a first date for the world to see. Poor production and cheesy “thought bubbles” aside, the episodes almost always resulted in the two very mismatched people going their separate ways. And as more dates failed, the show finally did, too, after an entertaining seven year run in 2006. Unless you know who your customers are from the start, building a strong connection with them is a shot in the dark. Don’t take your customers on a blind date. Do a little digging to build a relationship longer than one episode. Follow these steps to better learn who your audience members are and what they need from your business.
Start with figuring out who your customer is not. Often, people use demographics to identify their customers. Keep in mind that your customers are actual people, not demographics. Demographics only describe attributes of a population like age, gender or race. Of course, you will have certain groups of customers, but overall you should think of your customers as individuals.
Look to personas to understand your customers. A buyer persona is an example of the real person you inspire to reach, crafted from specialized interviews you conduct with actual buyers. Personas help guide product and service development, provide alignment across your organization, and help you better relate to customers. Personas should include:
- Common behavior patterns
- Shared pain points (personal, professional)
- Universal goals, wishes, dreams
- General demographics
Develop personas that will guide your marketing. To create an effective buyer persona, it’s important to interview actual buyers for factual information. Whether you set up a one on one meeting, phone interview, focus group or send a survey, the interview process is key to developing your buyer persona. After you ask personal background questions and have an idea of demographics, here are some questions to ask during your interview:
- What is a typical day like for you?
- What are your goals?
- What are the skills required to do your job?
- What does it means for you to be successful?
- What are some of your biggest pain points or challenges?
This is where your business comes in. Knowing a buyer’s challenges benefits your clients by helping you better tailor products services to their needs. With the information you gain from your interview, you can develop fictional personas to represent your different customers. Make the persona as detailed as possible, including a picture to show what this person might look like.
Let your knowledge be your guide
Now, with several complete buyer personas to reference, creating content is easier and more accurate. Because your persona represents customers based on actual buyer information, your marketing efforts can be more precise.