Buyer Personas help – Marketing, Sales, Product, and Customer Service teams, to internalize the ideal customer you are trying to attract, convert and retain, by relating to them as real humans.
However, the perfectly crafted blog post, eye-catching infographic, the short and sweet tweet, meticulously developed eBook, a striking call-to-action button, an exhaustive FAQ section in the website mean nothing if it not generating leads.
You need to review if the content has been created without completely knowing what your buyer needs or worse you assume you know what they need and where they are looking for and start your marketing efforts.
This significant oversight can impact sales and marketing priorities: from driving content creation, to marketing channel selection, product development, sales follow up, contracting and anything along the customer journey of acquisition to retention. It would mean a waste of time, budget and perhaps losing customer credibility, something you cannot afford.
Yes, it is tough to get a grip on the up-to-date buyers’ needs from awareness to decision, in this short attention, information-overloaded, do-it-yourself, get-it-done-now environment.
“However, isn’t this an exciting challenge, you crave for as marketers – assist buyers in making a purchase decision by choosing you?”
So how can you get started? Here are five tips that will help you understand your customers need.
1. Create An Agile Buyer Persona
A buyer persona is an exhaustive description of your ideal customer that captures their needs, challenges, aspirations, beliefs, values, biases and concerns addressed by your products and services. You may give these names (e.g., CFO Alex or L&D Head Seema or Traveller Rohit) and soon it may seem real, once you have worked with them for a long time.
The challenge however you face is that each of your product/service management, marketing, sales, customer service and delivery teams have their sources and views of the buyer. There are times when you also fail to inform one other and reconcile viewpoints. What you perceive as important might not be true in the case of the buyer. So it is important to take inputs from all teams to arrive at this agile ideal buyer, to arrive at some guided assumption about your customer needs.
2. Talk to Real, Specific Buyers
To understand your buyers or customers, you need to know their pain points or what’s bothering them. It is important not to rely solely on your internal understanding of the buyer. By reaching out and interacting with customers in person, will help you fill the missing gaps in understanding their actual needs and concerns.
The good news is that by asking the right questions to people who matter, will get to know your customer better and what drives them. You could conduct interviews to get to know your buyers better.
The next question you may have is – How to find those interviewees? They could be your existing customers, prospects, and referrals. However, you have a problem if you are entering a new market or introducing a new product or service or don’t have any leads or customers yet. In this case, you may reach out to your extended network – friends, ex-colleagues, coworkers, social media contacts – and find people you would like to get introduced to and interview.
A tip is, while you have these interactions, your intent us to understand what’s bothering them, so you need to ask relevant questions and just listen. So you should not attempt to start a sale pitch or try and justify / get defensive about your product/ service. As you want their time and attention, be flexible in meeting them at a date, time and place convenient for them. The new insights you will gather from multiple conversations like these will give you clarity and better understanding of their needs and aspirations.
3. Analyze Your Metrics
Conversations and interactions with customers are significant for understanding their needs but don’t stop here. Your social media and web analytics will give an insight of the buyers’needs. Take a look at things such as:
• The blog topics that received the maximum views
• The types of emails and subject lines that received the most views and clicks
• The most downloaded eBook
• The webinar topics that got maximum viewers
• The most searched keywords leading to your website from which parts of the country and the visitor demographics
• The most visited web pages and the longest time spent on that page
• The Call To Actions (CTAs) with the most clicks and how it is worded
• The nature of content posts customers/prospects has interacted most with on social media
These metrics will provide a window into actual customer actions, which you can then cross-reference against your buyer conversations and get a sense of whether their actions and reactions are co-relating.
4. Your Competitor Assessment
By reviewing your competitors’ website content, marketing initiatives, understanding how their offerings compare to yours – gives you another perspective of how they view your target audience and forms a source for understanding your buyers. An objective review of their content as a potential customer will help you refine your content.
5. Voice of Customer Program
Conducting regular health checks of customers is crucial in the today’s competitive business environment.
Depending on your business, you may want to do customer research using a mix of online and offline surveys at regular intervals. This will get you valuable insights to understand what’s going on in your buyers mind. What is the relative importance of features and benefits associated with your product; expectations and promises that are both fulfilled and unfulfilled by your product or service.
By knowing what frustrates your customers, prevents upselling, and creates negative word of mouth, you can make necessary process improvements and relevant investments. You may also integrate the Voice of the Employee surveys to provide you an informed frontline view of your customer experiences.
“These five tips will help you in identifying what your customers need. While they may seem simplistic, in practice they will require a good deal of effort. Moreover, that effort needs to be ongoing because customer needs will not ever be stagnant. If they were, marketing would become boring.
I had like to hear what your buyer personas include. Do you think of something that wasn’t discussed here? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Article was first posted in Marketers Touchpoint Blog
Image courtesy: Nathan Hanks