Know your customer.
That is a line you’ll read in a massive amount of articles about marketing.
But how many of those articles define this idea? How many have a plan to implement it? My guess is far fewer.
Identifying your audience isn’t simple. It takes time and research. You can’t just pull a set of characteristics from guesses and present them as fact. What if you’re wrong and that doesn’t represent your target audience?
That’s why you need to learn how to identify your buyer personas. It isn’t necessarily difficult, but it will take a little bit of time. To pull it off, you need to ask the following questions.
WHAT NEED DOES YOUR PRODUCT FILL?
After you create a product or inherit it, you need to think about what needs it fills. Don’t focus on what the product is or what it does, but rather look back on the needs that spurred its creation. Say you are selling a payroll software for other businesses to use. You may have created it because there was a lack of payroll software that could automatically handle employee absences.
This is the first step towards determining what makes a person buy your product. Figure out what needs of theirs your offering fills. Then it is time to move to the next step.
WHO HAS THOSE NEEDS?
This is probably the most complex part. You now know what needs your product fills, but you still need to locate the people who have these needs. Think about what your potential buyers are like before they use your offering. You want to identify them and their needs, then presenting your offering as a means to an after.
RESEARCH AND COLLECT DATA
This step of the process is critical, as it helps you prove that your audience is who you think they are.
There are many forms that you can use to learn and prove the identity of your customers:
Look at current customers — If you have ever had someone fill out a form asking for some of their work-related data, then determining your buyer personas should be a bit easier. Additionally, look into the data you’ve collected from your current customers.
Basically, if you have any information at all on your customers, you are already that much closer to being able to create an accurate picture of your customer. This includes stuff like attitudes and job responsibilities as well as demographic data. If you feel like you need a little more, that can be accomplished using the next step.
Survey your audience — You likely have a body of followers and current buyers. Create a series of questions for both, asking them for details like their industry, job title, salary, and even their budgets. They may not fill out every box, but these are the categories you use in B2B to find out whether the person you are targeting is a good fit to buy.
Better yet, interview actual customers. Talk to them about why they bought your product over others, what specific need your product filled over others. Find out what makes this customer the perfect match for your product. While this may not be as time-effective as just blasting out a survey in an email, I guarantee you will find it more useful.
Additionally, in this step, it’s critical to incentivize your surveys. Have a giveaway with the survey as the payment for the chance to win a gift card or a credit towards a subscription to your software. Or offer them a free exclusive ebook. This fair value exchange makes them much more willing to part with some of their information.
Assess your data — Now that you have gathered your data about your current and prospective buyers, you’re able to look for themes within the data you have collected.
You notice that most of your customers come from a specific job title, perhaps because that is the person that makes the final call on whether to buy your offering. Or maybe that only managers with a certain salary make up your customers, because they are the ones trusted with making product purchases over someone who just started at the company.
Note these trends in your buyers and use that information to create buyer personas. Apply that information to your current leads to see who matches up with your current customers. Then consider why this group of people hasn’t yet purchased from you yet.
WHAT MIGHT PREVENT SOMEONE FROM BUYING?
Typically, there are a few main factors that determine whether someone will buy. The classic standard for this is BANT. Budget, authority, need, and timeline (something that’s forcing them to buy within a specific timeline). This is why you see so many B2B companies asking for a department budget in their forms. Because it doesn’t matter how interested a prospective buyer is in your offering if they have no budget to buy it.
In many cases, you will be able to determine who would be highly interested in your product by matching your leads against your current customers (using the customer information from above.)
If they don’t have the budget and tell you that, then maybe wait until the end of the year, then reach out again.
There are other factors that might prevent a purchase, like a website that doesn’t make it easy for your leads to find out how much it might cost to buy your offering or how to buy it.
Basically, you must ensure that there are as few obstacles as possible between your leads and their ability to purchase. Anything in their way creates friction, which lessens the chances that they will buy.
WHO ELSE COULD YOUR CUSTOMERS BUY FROM?
This is simple. Check out your competitors, see what they offer. But don’t just focus on their product, focus on how they market it. Figure out what needs their product fills that yours may not. This leads you to the last question you should ask when creating buyer personas.
WHY SHOULD CONSUMERS BUY YOUR PRODUCT?
After surveying the competition, the answer to this question should be obvious. Figure out what makes your offering stand out over others. Or your positioning in the industry.
Sometimes, this is a particular feature of your product that makes it the best fit. Maybe you are the cheapest product, or maybe you’re the premium option. Other times it is the customer service that your offering comes with. It can even be a sense of trust that your customers feel when they hear about your company.
After you complete the steps to answer these questions, you should have a much better idea of who your customers are, who might become your customer, and why your customers buy from you over the competition.
Armed with this knowledge, you can start to market your offering in a way that caters to your potential customers’ needs.