Selling is the engine of your business, and the ability to make sales depends on the value you offer your customer. But who is your customer? And what does value actually mean?
First, there is no such thing as a generic “customer”.
There’s Michelle, the CFO with three children, who enjoys attending industry seminars and networking events. There is Greg, the executive director, who is obsessed with golf and dreams of one day playing in the Masters tournament. There is Natalie, the CTO, who comes from a rich startup environment and lives and breathes technology in both her personal and professional life.
All of these customers have different backgrounds, personalities and interests. The combination of the attributes of each and every one of them determines how effectively a particular marketing message reaches them and when their personal buying drivers are activated.
When you think of customers through a unified prism, you run the risk of diluting the nuances that can – and not – make the difference between buyers.
More than ever, traditional assumptions you may have made about your customers may be out of date. After COVID, there are new realities that everyone has to deal with, and these are especially true for your customers. Your customers may have new vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. You may have new value drivers to consider. You can act on new behaviors and preferences that need to be recognized.
Understanding your customers better is the logical starting point for addressing the challenges of the pandemic. (And that’s exactly what I did at my company, Ringcommend, when trying to overcome these challenges.)
The best way to achieve this broader understanding is to create buyer personalities: avatars of your target customers that help conceptualize them as real people with unique needs and wants.
Buyers flip their approach – from working backwards to tailor your company’s offering to customer needs, to working forward from customer needs to develop tailored offers.
Buyer personalities help you to better understand your customers – their weak points, wants and needs. They enable you to make better decisions that cover all of the functions of your business.
How can you build buyer personalities to better understand current and potential customers whose behavior and attitudes have changed due to COVID?
Understand the attributes you want to capture
Your goal in developing buyer personalities is to take a composite, 360-degree snapshot of each of your target customer profiles. Such illustrative avatars should feel as “real” as possible. What is each person’s professional background? What motivates his purchasing decisions? Where does each person sit in the corporate hierarchy?
Use your personas to shed light on key demographic, psychographic, and behavioral traits like these:
- Work ethic
Create multiple personas for different customer profiles
Since you are unlikely to have only one type of buyer, it makes sense to divide your customers into different customer profiles. Without going overboard, your personas should be individualized to capture unique attributes that identify each segment’s personal buying drivers.
To ensure that your buyer personalities remain relevant and useful, limit development to the smallest number of personas that capture the diversity of your customer profiles.
Conduct customer interviews
The easiest way to develop buyer personalities that mirror your real customers is to speak to your real customers!
Request the opportunity to interview people who you believe will be your fundamental target customers. In the absence of face-to-face interviews, you should collect information through online surveys or questionnaires.
Get your team involved
Aside from the customers themselves, few customers understand better than your team members. They treat customers one way or another across all business functions – some with high frequency and multiple touchpoints.
When creating personas, involve team members, especially those in marketing, sales, and product who can provide customer information.
Do independent research
Macro changes resulting from COVID can also be revealed through new investigations and investigations. This includes good old market research:
- Check market reports
- Reading reviews from websites
- Analyze your web analytics data
Gather your research and interviews
Once you’ve gathered all of the previous input, you’ll be sitting on a ton of customer insights. This information needs to be consolidated and broken down into a meaningful structure so that you can create your personas as easily as possible.
Group and summarize information in relevant categories to make it easy to translate insights directly into personas.
Create a solid template
There is no “right way” to create a template for a buyer personality. The attributes that you include in the template should simply be those necessary to achieve the overall goal of getting a snapshot that is representative of your real-world target customers.
Your persona templates should highlight attributes that paint a clear picture of your target customer. You should feel able to describe the customer as if they were a real person you know in real life.
A solid template should allow you to create personas for reference when making marketing and sales decisions based on your various customer profiles.
Humanize the abstract
By including humanizing elements in your template, you can translate abstract research into a lifelike avatar. Conceptualizing your customers with such humanized attributes will come in handy when using your personas to make real marketing and sales decisions.
Your personas inevitably don’t represent every customer relevant to your company. There will be natural differences from customer to customer. However, when you work with people comparable to real people, the decisions you make will become more authentic and reliable.
Make sure your personas know exactly who the target customer is. For example, if Michelle is looking to buy low cost solutions, her challenge shouldn’t be just getting value for money. Add more details, such as B. “Procurement of primary products with a sufficient return on investment of 5-10%”.
Embed personas in your company
Once developed, the personas should be shared across the team and embedded in all business functions. They should serve as the north star for every business decision your customers are involved in, especially sales and marketing.
This article is an adapted excerpt from the book Coming Back From COVID: The Definitive Guide for Small Business Owners to Recovering from Coronavirus Quickly.