Here’s some food for thought: Two people were given a pair of nets to catch some fish. One was given a large, wide net, while the other person was handed a smaller one. Which person do you think would catch the most fish?
It’s quite tempting to say that the person with the bigger net would catch more fish, and in some instances he would. In this case however, there’s absolutely nothing in the pond except for tiny sardines, making the large net virtually useless since the fish can easily slip out through the holes. In addition to that, the person with the smaller net is a veteran sardine fisherman who knows which spots in the pond the fish likes to frequent.
This is the importance of knowing who you are supposed to be targeting. Or, in the case of the fishing anecdote, knowing what type of fish are in the pond and how they behave before you cast your net (your marketing campaign). Having this knowledge on hand not only helps you maximise your resources and helps you get the results you want, but best of all, it provides results that you can replicate.
How do you get this information, you ask? By creating customer personas.
In order to fully understand what a customer persona is, you must first do away with traditional market research frameworks that classify people into standardised, pre-existing categories. It’s not enough to just know what your customers’ genders or ages are, you need to figure out what they do and why they do it. To put it simply, customer personas are fictional, generalised representations of your brand’s existing/ideal customer. Its main purpose is to help you and your sales team internalise and relate to your customers on a personal level, which then gives you the insight you need to create more effective marketing strategies.
A detailed customer persona can also help you figure out your customers’ personalities, their wants, their needs and most especially their motivations, what drove them to seek out your product or service in the first place. This not only helps you retain your existing customers, it can also assist in your efforts to break into the target markets you want to expand your business to.
Want to know how you can develop your own customer persona for your brand? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create and utilise your own:
1. Start asking questions
Marketing is a strategic endeavour. That’s why in order to get the results you want, you need a well thought out plan, and this plan has to start with your customer. Try to answer these questions about the people you’re marketing to: Who is using your product? What do they do, what are their values, how do they feel, what products are they currently using, and what will it take to sign them on as paying/repeat customers? You can use different methods to get these answers. From surveys, social media research to customer feedback forms, etc. Try experimenting with different methods until you find one that gives you the most detailed results.
Getting the answers to these questions may seem daunting, but believe me, once you’ve completed the legwork your next campaign will be that much more rewarding.
2. Don’t make any assumptions
During your research it’s important to keep an open mind and to refrain from making any assumptions. The results of your market study might surprise you and drastically change your strategy for the better.
3. Address the individual not the group
Your customer base will always be consisted of diverse individuals, that’s why you shouldn’t address them as one large group. Instead, figure out a way for your brand to connect with them on an individual level. This means you need to determine and understand who is in your audience and what brought them there.
Here’s an exercise that might help you get the idea: Let’s say Customer A is a young professional who just happens to have a passion for unique fashion accessories. She used to frequent your online boutique to buy from your limited collection, but now, she seldom visits. What can you do to re-earn her as a paying customer?
If you say retarget her using a lineup of new arrivals from your limited collection, then you’re on the right track. However, if you use something more specific then you might have a better shot at getting her back to your store. Let’s say for example, you show her a retargeting ad showcasing the latest bracelet designs from your limited collection because that is the type of accessory she most often adds to her cart, then you increase the chance of retaining her as a customer.
4. Determine your customer’s conversion journey
Now that you have an idea who your customers are, you now need to understand how their values, behavioural characteristics and personalities can translate into conversions for your brand. Try to figure out what motivated your existing customers to seek out your brand; how long did the customer journey take before it led to conversion. Once, you’ve mapped out the path your customers take before they reach sales, you can start adapting your marketing strategy to improve things that are already working, or to fix, or divert resources from ones that aren’t.
To illustrate, let’s say that you find out from your customer personas that your brand gets most of its new customers from referrals and word of mouth. How will it impact your marketing strategy or your goals? Perhaps, you and your sales team would like to opt to create referral incentives to enhance what’s already working for your company. Or maybe, you may want to deepen engagement with your existing customers knowing that many of them are willing to advocate for your brand.
5. Create customer personas
Develop personas that represent your core customers and your ideal customers. Give your personas the same diverse personality traits, behaviours and motivations. Also, try to assign names to your customer personas. This can help ensure that your brand’s messaging is geared toward a familiar individual instead of a random group of strangers.
6. Adapt your marketing strategy
Time to put all that hard work to good use. Adapt your marketing strategy by focusing on targeting your customer personas, make sure your campaigns address your persona on a personal level in order to establish a meaningful relationship with them. If you play your cards right, you’ll be able to optimise each of your campaigns, earn more conversions, and minimise customer drop-offs.
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