Reverse Engineering The Ultimate Buyer Persona

business_background_eps10If you’re like many small business owners you have a pretty clear picture of what your ideal customer looks like. As least you know them when you work with them.

Even if you run a tiny freelancing firm, you can develop a “buyer persona” so you can easily attract more of those ideal customers you like working with.

By being able to describe in words what your ideal client looks like, you’ll save yourself miscommunication and headaches in the long run, too!

Do you take on any and all new clients only to discover after awhile that some are not the kind of customer you serve best? Either your personalities don’t match, or they require some “not-quite-right” alteration to your best work. If you’re a freelancer that could mean edits and modifications. If you’re a coach that could mean a communication disconnect and failure to achieve results. If you’re in sales, it could mean unnecessary  (but not altogether unexpected) chargebacks and returns. 

Maybe you are at a point where you must not only clearly identity your best customers, but also relay a description to a virtual assistant who helps you…a social media aid, or copywriter, or someone who makes graphics or uploads your blog posts into WordPress.  

Wouldn’t you love to be able to easily paint a picture of the persona who is ideally reading your messages and resonating with them?

Once you know this person — and are able to describe him or her to someone else, your marketing message will be easier to make and release to the right market.

Maybe it’s time to create one or two buyer personas for your marketing strategy. It’s easier than you think — and don’t let anyone tell you it’s too complicated to try doing on your own! It’s part of my process for creating Your “Unlimited Invitation” to the right clients.

As I talked about in this post, a buyer persona is like an archetype of the customer your business serves best. Buyer personas are more than demographics or a general “types.” They paint a picture, based on an analysis of many characteristics, of the ideal person who receives and connects with your marketing materials — and ultimately becomes your customer.

How to reverse engineer a buyer persona for your business

You can do a thorough investigation into your markets, your customers, people who already know you, who have never heard of you and who have chosen NOT to do business with you. You can do surveys and questionnaires, exit surveys and interviews. You can construct a buyer persona from the pool of interested or somewhat interested people you meet.

reverse engineering your buyer personaOr…

If you want to create a buyer persona for your small business on a shoestring, look to the real, flesh-and-blood person you’ve already helped. Your ideal customer…so far.

Based on the experiences you’ve already had with your customers, you can create a buyer persona by simply reverse engineering your (very real) ideal customer.

First, start with a very specific image of that person whom you’ve already served and who loves your work. They’re probably one of your star clients or happiest customers. The one who’s come farthest and is most delighted with your product or service. They’ve taken what you’ve given, implemented it into their life and had success. They find your products useful and your style suits their own personal preferences.

You know who that person is. (Just close your eyes for a second and think about it.) Now start with that one.

Identify their specific goals and values, witness their behaviors, job title, family situation, mannerisms, and lifestyle. What was the situation that person was dealing with the day you first met?

Now de-focus just a bit. Pay attention now…as you pull back you may find some similarities with other clients you serve…or whom you would like to serve.

Chances are good that other identifying characteristics start to emerge. Income, education, occupation urban/rural situation, health, gender and even points of view all come into play. Within businesses, as laid out in this article, you may also note commonalities in geography, seniority, function, industry and company size. You’ll begin to see an archetype of your ideal client. Not the exact person you were thinking of in the first step, but someone similar.

The small entrepreneur or solopreneur can then create buyer personas for their own marketing strategy. You don’t need a committee of smart question-askers and survey-givers to find out who needs your services.

Just pinpoint who it was in the past and who it is right now.

I hope you can see the efficiency in this process. It’s the opposite of taking a very generalized approach and narrowing your focus. Larger marketing departments leave no stone unturned by starting with a buyer profile — a skeletal frame upon which they build a persona by laying in details and adding color.

But what I’m proposing begins with your actual customer and works backwards. As Lisa Sasevich says, “Don’t change your act. Change your audience.” You probably already know your act. Sure, you’re willing to be flexible and work with many different types of people (and let’s be clear every customer is different), but in terms of marketing start with what you know now.

LoveWhat you’re really great at and who benefits most from your work:  I’ll bet that’s already written on your heart.

A personal example: my customer is the small business person who needs marketing strategy and writing to reach their ideal clients online. That’s what I do, I write email and web content and I help figure out the sequence and channels to get the message in front of the right people. I consult small biz people and entrepreneurs — and would be happy to talk with you about your marketing stuff, too!

I also serve the writer and small business person who wants to write their own copy and do their own marketing. I show people what I know. Some people learn from me, some people hire me to do it for them. Those are the people I serve.

You know who you serve best, buyer persona or not. Small business people need to take an efficient and economical approach to their marketing. It’s about forging real connections quickly and keeping people interested. Not entertaining hazy ideas of customer types who might want to work with you.

Your ultimate buyer persona is probably right underneath your nose!

Too simplistic or just right? What do you think of this “deconstruction” technique? Do you think it leaves some questions unanswered or can the small business person get a good start with this? Chat with me on Facebook about this!