Customer PersonasLast week we talked about how to make your marketing 10 times more effective.  My point then was by refining your message to the personas that are your prospects improves your communication.  Thus, you have better results in connecting with your prospects that ultimately become customers.

This week I want to get a little more tactical and discuss how you begin creating personas and more focused messages for your audiences. (Notice audiences is plural!)

Identify Your Personas

The first step is defining your customers.  Most resources in this area will have you focus on demographics and characteristics of each customer.  You want focus on things like:

      • Social Class
      • Gender
      • Age
      • Income
      • Race
      • Occupation
      • Marital Status
      • Buying Style
      • Personality Style
      • Education
      • Family Size
      • Benefits Sought
      • How Often They Buy
      • Geographic Location
      • # of Employees
      • Years in Business
      • Annual Sales
      • Industry (SIC)
      • Price Sensitivity

This isn’t an all-inclusive list.  It’s more a memory jogger to get you started.  You want to list anything that you can think of the will characterize this group of customers.

A good place to start is with your best customers.  Why?  Because they represent the type of customer you want more of.  If you can understand them better you can speak to other people and businesses out there that have the same wants and needs.  Build a fictitious character to represent each persona.

For example, DE, Inc. serves 2 primary groups – startup and ongoing concerns.  So these are 2 primary personas that we try to speak to about our products and services.

While both groups can be categorized as small business owners, they have very different needs.  This is why we separated them into different personas.

Understand Your Personas Problems

Once you understand the personas, you can begin to look more closely at their needs.  To do this you want to look at the problems that each group faces.  Do this by surveying, interviewing, researching etc.

Anything you can to understand what is a struggle for the persona is advantageous.  You may even want to look at how they currently solve these problems to better understand your competition with each persona.

Now, why is this important?  Think about it.  If your product or service can solve more than one problem how do you address it with a single message?  You can’t, or you make it so generic that nobody understands what you do!

We’ve suffered from this recently at DE, Inc.  Our new offering to trusted advisors can be used by CPAs, insurance agents, bankers, alternative lenders, business brokers, and management consultants.  The problem is the way management consultants use the products is different than everyone else.  So, we had to separate consultants into their own persona.

We struggled to tell our story to that point.  Thank goodness we have great advisers that saw the problem and pointed it out to us!

Solve Your Personas Problems

Once you understand the pain a persona is suffering it’s easier to discuss how your product/service helps solve the problem.   Talk to them directly.  “Hey, we understand your pain.  Does this sound familiar?  Well, here is how our offering solves the problem….”

Here is an example of how we applied this story telling to our CPA persona.

“As CPA’s you see clients with problems all the time.  You can even pinpoint the exact problem via their financial reports.  But, how do you help them fix the problem?  You’re not a management consultant, you’re an accountant!  What if you could provide them access to a library of resources, tools and training to solve their problems?  Do you think they’d thank you for it?”

Once you know who you’re talking to, what their problem(s) are, and how you solve the problems, writing your message is simple.  It’s all the thinking and research necessary to get there that prevents most business owners from getting to this point.  It takes some work, but the result is well worth the effort.

Stick to the Message

Finally, when you’ve figured out the message for a persona, you need to apply it to every communication that you have with that group of prospects. This can be tough.  If you think about it, if you have 4 or 5 specific personas your marketing communication just increased by 4 or 5 times.

Here is the primary reason small businesses just go for the generic market communication. The problem is generic is way less effective than targeted messaging.  AND, it may not get you the results you need to be profitable.  This may be an explanation as to why you can never seem to get any real traction with your business.

So, how do you speak to all these different personas?  Well, you’ll have to tune in next week as that is my topic for next week.  How do you use you newly found personas to develop an effective marketing strategy that helps increase profitability and grow your business?

Until then, begin thinking about your customer personas.  How many do you have?  What are the unique problems they each face?  Are you addressing some better than others?  Why?

If you need assistance with this exercise, I would recommend our marketing related Business Accelerator Training online program titled Developing Your Brand Position.  It will walk you through the process of better understanding your personas and the best way to speak to them.  Until next week, happy marketing!