I recently wrote a story for a local newspaper about three area businesses that are celebrating milestone anniversaries — 50, 75 and 95 years in operation. They are three very different business enterprises, offering three very different types of products and services. Yet, as different as they may be their secret to success is very much the same – know your customers and give them what they want and need.
If a Ten Commandments of Marketing existed, “Know thy Customer” would certainly top the list. To most business owners this probably seems pretty basic. After all, we all know our customers, right? Not so fast.
How well do we actually know the people who buy and use our products and services? Are we sure we’re giving them exactly what they need to succeed? Have we asked them lately? As business owners and service providers we need to know what makes our customers tick – and how to keep them ticking.
A great way to tackle this task is to create a “persona” for individual customers or customer types. A well-done persona takes some time and effort to create, but is well worth it. Here is some of what a persona will help you identify:
Customer Demographics – Demographics like sex, age and ethnicity can have a big impact on a person’s purchasing decisions. Cultural differences are particularly important, as different cultures do business in different ways. You can easily offend or lose a customer if you don’t understand their views and basic values.
What keeps them up at night – Do you have “work” dreams? You know the ones when you arrive at a meeting unprepared, or forgot where the meeting was and couldn’t get to a phone to call in. If so, you’re not alone. We all have things that keep us up at night – staffing, making payroll, the need for new product ideas, meeting deadlines, and more. A customer persona can help identify the things that worry and frustrate our customers the most – and give us the opportunity to put those troubles to bed for good.
Preferences — This is a biggie. Do you know how your customers prefer to communicate? How about where they turn for help or to catch up on business and industry news? Twenty-five years ago the answers were simple as technology wasn’t what it is today. We now have e-mail, web sites, social media platforms, text messaging, mobile phones, a 24/7 newsfeed, YouTube and Google to name just a few. What’s more, we can connect instantly with anyone in the world. As exciting as these new options may be, it’s more important than ever to know which ones your customers are using — so that you can be there in a big way when they come looking.
Personal and Business Goals and Objectives – When it’s all said and done, we ultimately want to help our customers succeed. To do that, we must know how they define success – and what we can do to help make it happen.
So where do you start? If you don’t already have one, find a persona template online. HubSpot offers a free one that you may want to check out. It comes along with a step by step process of how to use it most effectively. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be writing about your business next!
Do you use customer personas to help guide your marketing efforts? If so, what type of information do you look for?