Can you imagine how simple your marketing would be if you figured out a way to lead the perfect match down your sales funnel each time you wanted more business?
If you are a solo-preneur or someone re-branding yourself as the expert in your field, your content is always quietly working to attract and conversely, to repel certain types of people.
Some with click with you. Others will literally click away.
That’s why it’s so important to spend some time developing a few “buyer personas” to easily attract more of those ideal customers you like working with, and who enjoy your style, too.
You want the ones who click with you!
When you get your buyer personas right, not only are you able to describe in words and pictures your ideal client, but your communication with that person will feel more natural. A huge fringe benefit of developing accurate buyer personas is lower frustration spending time working with the wrong clients.
See, it goes both ways. Knowing who your ideal customer is and defining him or her within a buyer persona framework also prevents the wrong people from squandering their resources and peace of mind, too.
A mismatch is bad for everyone, yet almost everyone I know has made this mistake at some point.
It’s understandable, especially if you’re just starting a new business, working on branding yourself and your business, or striking out alone after years working in another job.
In addition to the challenge of getting it “just right,” a lot of new business owners are happy to do business with just about anyone with a pulse and a credit card. Because you need the business, you take on any and all new clients, only to discover after awhile that there are just some people you don’t serve well.
Working with the wrong customers sucks the life out of your business.
Maybe your values clash, or they ask you to change the way you do something to suite them, even though you know it means you won’t be able to deliver your best work within the efficient system you’ve created. Maybe they constantly find fault with your products or services, or they fail to communicate with you before they post their complaints on all their social media sites. Maybe the wrong customers are costing you a small fortune in chargebacks and returns.
The fallout is real; the wrong customer slows you down, prevents your best work, and usually sucks resources away from the very people who form the soul of your business… the right customers.
The process of finding these people – the right customers – is equal parts choice and discovery.
As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you get to paint the picture of the person who is most likely to respond positively to your marketing efforts and become the exact match to the person you’re in business to serve.
It’s time to create or re-evaluate one or two buyer personas.
As I discussed previously in this post, think of a buyer persona as an archetype of the customer that your business serves best. Buyer personas are more than demographics or a general “types.” A comprehensive and detailed portrait of your buyer persona includes many characteristics: personal, professional, social, physical, even spiritual dimensions of your happiest, most successful customer. You need to consider the whole person.
Traditional Buyer Persona Creation
There are many ways to go about creating a buyer persona description.
- You can gather your team together and brainstorm all the possible qualities of your ideal customer.
- You can do a thorough investigation into your markets, your customers, people who have heard of you and your brand.
- You can study leads that have chosen NOT to do business with you.
- You can conduct surveys from possible buyers.
- You can put out questionnaires.
- You can request exit interviews from past customers and clients.
- You can even construct a buyer persona from a pool of interested leads who “intend” to purchase at some point in the future.
Or you can take a simpler approach that’s almost always accurate… Look to the real, flesh-and-blood person you’ve already helped. Look to your ideal customer…so far.
Then just step back to get a better view.
How to Reverse Engineer the Buyer Persona Identification Process
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 you’ve already served and who loves your work. How do you know who that is? Any one of the following descriptions indicates a possible ideal customer. (Let’s say, for ease of discussion, that person is a woman.)
- Your ideal client is probably one of your star clients or most satisfied customers.
- This person could be the one who’s come furthest, thanks to you, and refers you to everyone she meets.
- She’s taken what you’ve given, implemented it, and found success.
- Her “receiving” style and your “giving” style match perfectly.
- If it was a client relationship or a B2B contact, working together was smooth sailing from day one.
- If she was a consumer of a product, this person is the one who buys everything you produce, shares it, and tells all her friends.
- She’s an advocate and a champion, and probably active on social media.
You know who that person is. Just close your eyes for a second and think about it.
For this next part, you may know the answers or you may have to make your best guess. That should be easy, since you already know her.
Identify her specific goals and values, witness her behaviors, job title, family situation, mannerisms, and lifestyle. What was the situation that person was dealing with the day you first met? Where did you meet or how did this customer find you? What social sites does she use? What part of town does this person live in? What type of vacations does she take? What is her education level? Do you know her favorite expressions, biggest career concerns, political leanings? List everything you can reasonably know about this person in detail.
Once you have a complete picture you can start to create your first buyer persona.
Let’s keep going.
Next, pan out.
Where you initially focused your attention, now it’s time to pan out to get a higher view. Pay attention now…as you pull back, you may find some similarities with other clients you serve, or whom you would like the opportunity to serve.
At this point, other identifying characteristics may emerge that you could determine to be more important or relevant, while other details don’t seem to matter so much. Income, occupation, health, gender and even points of view all come into play.
As you pull pack to get a more general view of your ideal customer, you may begin to notice and eliminate unnecessary distinctions that have no bearing on your ability or desire to serve this qualified group.
Where will you discern these generalities?
Within businesses, for example if you’re a B2B business, you may note commonalities between geography, seniority, function, industry, or company size. Among consumers you may notice the important factors affecting a successful sale hinge on geography, age, profession, income, or family size.
The Buyer Persona Comes Into Focus
It’s exciting to begin to see an archetype of your ideal client come into focus!
She may not be the exact person you were thinking of in the first step, but someone similar who shares general important traits.
The similarities are important because this is the area where you’ll be able to create the best content for the most people. Individual details fall away and larger trends take precedence.
As this article shows you can even start to accommodate fluctuations and areas of urgency based on changing shifts in industries, geographical concerns or newsworthy trends.
You buyer personas may change according to the season, current events, or other fluctuating factors. No matter what market your business serves, it’s important to stay flexible. You don’t want to carve a buyer persona in stone and then forget about it.
Fluid, lively content is content that meets your customer where she is – and in some cases, her circumstances can change a lot over a short period of time!
If you are a new business owner, don’t start creating content until you’ve identified at least one or two buyer personas. After that, you can begin to walk through their decision-making processes and points where they will be most open to your message.
You don’t need a committee of smart interviewers and surveys to find out who needs your services. You really can paint a picture of your best customer on your own.
Start with this process and see where it takes you. Note that it’s the opposite of what a lot of entrepreneurs do, starting with a theoretical buyer profile, based on assumptions — a skeletal frame upon which they build a persona by laying in details and adding color.
I’m proposing doing the opposite.
Begin with a picture of your actual customer. Forget all about those disaster clients and unhappy customers. Just let them go.) Then work backwards.
You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of your best customer, which allows you to see similarities with others who share characteristics with those in your target niche.
Just pinpoint the one whose world you rocked in the past and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the one you must connect with today. Your content will speak directly to her.
As tempting as it is to stay flexible and work with lots of different types of people, you’re better off identifying one ideal buyer persona, crafting content to answer her questions and calm her concerns, then pleasing that customer with your best work.
While you may not want to refuse anyone at first as you are building your business, at least you will attract fewer of the wrong customers when you use a marketing strategy based on clear buyer personas. That’s a win-win for you and your ideal clients.
You know whom you serve best. Small business people need to take an efficient and economical approach to their marketing. When content marketing blogs advise a complicated method for creating buyer personas that will engage with your content and eventually convert, most small businesses immediately think they need to hang on to their wallets. so reverse engineering that ideal client will result in your first (and probably best) buyer persona.
The ultimate buyer persona is right in front of you.