Customers today are empowered by the awareness that while change is inevitable, success in business is purely the customers’ choice. If you want your business to succeed, you need to stay current and relevant in the market. The only way to do this is to get to know your customers and cater to their emergent needs and expectations.
The catalysts for change in the market today are technology and new media. It’s vital that businesses are aware of how they impact customers and purchase decisions.
- Strength in numbers. It’s not just the way we communicate and transact that has changed, customer perceptions and buying behavior has changed too. For one thing, social media has given a new meaning to the word ‘crowd’. Once a faceless multitude, today the crowd is a countable force, willing to leverage their numbers when necessary. Customers have begun to reap the rewards of being unified despite their diversity.
- Data-driven comparisons. Every post on social media has the potential to boost or put down someone or something. Depending on the number of likes, shares and comments it motivates, or not. Either way this is hard data. The flip side to this rampant sharing of information and experiences, is that customers always have something to compare their experiences with. These comparisons have the propensity to shift the benchmark for good customer experiences at every stage from marketing and selling, to service and support.
There’s an exigent need for businesses to understand the diverse profiles of their target market. To do this business must step back for a larger perspective.
- Business in the bigger picture is more inclusive of the market landscape. This expansive canvas presents more options for growth and development. Not restricting the term customer to active buyers alone, but including past buyers and future customers as well, increases the scope for positive customer experiences, now and in the future. What needs to be done is to collect, collate and correlate your customers’ profiles to build viable customer personas to represent them.
To create viable customer personas, you need to: (a) listen every time your customers speak, (b) acknowledge what they say, and (c) be aware of their true nature.
- The best fiction is based on facts. Customer personas are make-believe characters built entirely out of the facts provided to you by your customers at every interaction. Each persona is crafted out of the generic similarities between your customers—past, present and future. The similarities and differences between your customers add substance and dimension to each customer persona.
- Humanize your customer personas to understand your customers and better relate to their needs. Get to know their pain points, expectations, what finds their favor, or what might move them.
- Name each persona to establish their identities with everyone involved in the business process. Actual names lend tangible form to personas, making it easier to relate to them as people with real lives and needs.
- Customer personas are dynamic and businesses need to be committed to keeping pace with their customers changing needs, expectations and aspirations.
Your business benefits from viable customer personas. Get to know them well and they will lend valuable direction and impetus to all your marketing efforts.
- Create customized content that finds favor with your target audience because it resonates with them. We all know it’s easier to choose a greeting card for someone we know well, rather than a complete stranger. So it pays to know your customer personas really well.
- Aim or tailor marketing efforts for varying segments of your audience. When you create emails to address specific expectations or issues of some or all of your customer personas, your lead nurturing process can live up to its name. Mass forwards of generic emails to your entire database is a sign of your disinterest in your customers. A sign they pick up on and react to with alacrity.
The exception to the rule is the non-customer, who is part of your market but not a part of your customer diaspora. Though they may never find mention on your customer database—past, present or future, there is great sense in creating non-customer or negative personas.
- Knowing what will never be can save you time. Creating negative personas is a positive push to marketing strategy. It’s good to know the type of customer your business does not need, either now or ever. This could be a list of experts needing more advanced services, fresh hands looking to learn, or customers too expensive to acquire or more likely to cause churn.
- The value of negation is felt when budgets are optimized. When you know which leads to avoid, you can apportion marketing resources for the leads worth nurturing. The upshot of this is an economical cost-per-lead ratio at marketing and a lower cost-per-customer for higher sales productivity.
Viable personas are grounded in facts garnered from market research surveys and interviews, insights from customer interactions and feedback. You can have as many customer personas as needed to reflect your customers’ personalities, expectations and purchase patterns. Whether it’s two or twenty, the number of customer personas you’ll need depends on the age and size of your business, its marketing reach and the range of products and services offered. Start small and build more personas as you grow.
If you’d like to know more about customer personas and how they can benefit your business, click here.