How many times have you had your vendors in your office, ready to do their “Dog and Pony” show for the newest and hottest new product hitting the market? They create an amazing presentation, point out all the great new features, and tell you this is going to sell as a hit. Energized, you quickly put together a mix of marketing materials to spread the word about this new product, using vendor-supplied postcards, ezines, and point-of-purchase displays. Your message is clear to your customers – this is the next must-have. If you don’t buy now, someone else will beat you. Then, after launching your marketing campaign, you call your supplier again and ask why you think no one has bought the new product from you. The problem? He was so busy crafting a strong message that would sell the benefits of the new product that he forgot to determine who would actually benefit, who cares? You forgot to evaluate and address your buyer persona.
If you look at the recent presidential election, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin worked hard to attract hockey moms to the polls. He was going after a buyer persona – a detailed description of a profile that represents the actual audience he was trying to attract. In previous years, the buyer persona “soccer mom” became “security mom” when violence and terrorism became major problems in the political arena. Understanding the buyer persona of your clients enables you to create goals, programs, and strategies around your clients’ decision-making process. Do you always expect a sale? Do some of your customers buy in bulk rather than separately? How is the economy affecting your budget? What types of marketing materials do you respond best to? Postcards E-bulletins Personal phone calls? All of this information is critical to understanding who your customer is and what motivates them. If you really understand your buyer, or in this case your customer, you can come up with a specific plan based on qualified likes and dislikes. It doesn’t matter if you have a great product. If your message is not geared towards customer needs, it will be overlooked.
Here are some ways to create a buyer persona for your current and potential clients as well:
– Listens. The British Army officer and founder of the Boy Scouts, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, once said, “If you make listening and observing your business, you will gain far more than you can speak.” Proactively reach out to your customers and ask them what matters to them in today’s economy. What do they need support? What kinds of products and services do your consumers need and want? Then listen to the responses. If you get caught up in selling your products to sell, your message will fall on deaf ears. Listening is the first step to understanding your customers.
– Data mine. If you are not already doing this, you must constantly look for “similarities” in your database. Once you’ve heard right, marry those clients with similar needs and ideas and create a personality for that group. Do you have multiple clients that are in the same geographic location? That could be another target group. Look for similarities within your customer database and you can develop different categories to specifically target.
– Request the referral. “You can’t get what you don’t ask for” certainly applies here. If you are having a great experience with a particular client, ask for a referral. Most likely, a particular customer has “friends” with a similar buyer persona. You can add them to your growing database and target them with messages tailored to your needs.
– Use ROI. As with anything else you spend time and financial resources on, building a buyer image should ultimately provide you with some form of return on investment. If you build a personality and market to them, but don’t see any results, how are you going to measure what worked and what didn’t? What steps will you take to go back and modify that person profile until it works properly for you?
Let’s be honest. If you are not creating a message for anyone in particular, you will fall short. It cannot be marketed to the masses (although some do try). Especially in today’s economy, you need to get to know your customers inside and out and take the time to get to know them better. You need to get to the heart of what customers want, and then design your messages and programs around that. Not everyone wants the same thing. Making that wrong assumption will cost you!