Menu

Back to the blog

THE ONE THING YOU REALLY CAN’T SELL WITHOUT

Posted: Monday December 6, 2021 by effinlazy

Hint: diggers and Hand-tools

In all my years of selling stuff – for both start-ups and the biggest brands in the world – there’s one thing I have learned to never attempt a sale without.

One simple yet fundamental part of the sales process that – if overlooked – is almost guaranteed to see your business fail. 

Or cause you to spend precious amounts of time and money on products and messaging that flop – like Colgate’s beef lasagne*.

But what is it?

It’s actually quite simple. Though ignoring it has catastrophic effects that even the biggest brands in the world have struggled to come back from…

The one thing you absolutely need before ANYTHING else in business… is a deep understanding of your customer.

Seriously.

It might sound simple (and it is, really). But having a deep understanding of your customer, documented in the form of s customer persona is an essential part of your business set-up, sales and marketing process.

A part that millions of business owners overlook every year because:

1. They think it’s too much work for too little a reward.

2. They think they know their customers enough already.

Unfortunately for them, both of these things are costly misunderstandings.

Which is why I’m bringing it to your attention now, before you make the same mistake.

. . . .

WHAT IS A CUSTOMER PERSONA, REALLY?

In a nutshell, a customer persona (sometimes referred to as a ‘buyer persona’) is a detailed description of the person you want to sell to. Or, in the case of ‘anti-personas’, the kind of people you don’t want knocking on your shop window.

Most brands experiment with customer personas at some point in their journey, and they can be documented in any number of ways. But what really makes a persona great and useful is the amount and type of information it includes.

. . . .

WHY BOTHER WITH PERSONAS?

Customers are the beating heart of every successful brand. And when it comes to convincing someone to do something (buy, share, sign-up, boycott, protest, march, etc.), everyone in your business – from employees to external agencies – needs to understand who your ideal customers are, so they can focus all their efforts on attracting those people.

Not only that, but having a clear idea of your customers, and documenting them in the form of personas also allows you to…

Segment Your Market

Tell me, when you sit down to write your sales and marketing material, do you imagine speaking to all of your potential customers, or just one?

If your answer is the former, you’re wasting your time.

The biggest mistake you can make when writing any sort of sales or marketing material is trying to appeal to every single customer type in your prospective customer pool at once.

Why?

Because instead of grabbing your readers attention, and convincing them that they absolutely need what you have, your message ends up being vague and insignificant to everyone who casts their eyes upon it. Easily ignored.

For example, let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer who’s been running her business for the last 18 months. Your potential customer-pool may include:

  • A brand-new boutique beauty start-up owner who wants a logo to put on her social media (and maybe a website)
  • The Marketing Director of a large, established corporate events company who need a whole new visual identity to represent a new direction in their business
  • A medium-sized urban clothing brand who wants someone to help create designs for their popular t-shirt lines.

Now if you tried to create a campaign which speaks to all three of these customers at once, it won’t land with any of them. Because they all want different things from your business, and they’re from completely different worlds. These three people have different needs, budgets, values, and ways of working… 

Thus, the benefit of using customer personas here is that you can segment your market and develop products, services, and messaging which appeals to each of them specifically…

That’s the key to creating a persuasive offer – relevancy to your reader.

Gain Clarity and Focus

Not only that, but creating a detailed description of one person from each of your market segments gives you extraordinary clarity when it comes to content-creation and value offerings.

Complete, in-depth customer personas make your branding, sales and marketing process much easier, because they reduce the number of ‘what if’s you need to consider when brainstorming ideas.

Speaking to individual personas will reduce the temptation to account for hundreds of potential scenarios (which is the inevitable result of trying to consider everyone’s needs at once). Personas allow you to focus – on one specific person with very specific needs.

In a nutshell: Detailed customer personas allow you to craft messages that strike your customers right in the heart; whilst also saving you a ton of time, money and stress that you would otherwise waste on trying to resonate with your whole potential market in one shot.

. . . .

OK, SID. I NEED SOME PERSONAS. BUT WHERE THE HELL DO I START?

So, you want to write messages which put your ideal prospects on their knees, begging to buy what you’re selling, and you now know, in order to do that, you’ve got to have a pretty decent persona to help you focus your attention.

But how do you create one of these magical avatars?

Lucky for you, I’ve been helping business owners for the last 3 years get to know their favourite people better than those customers know themselves…

You see, when working on their customer personas, few small businesses dig deep enough to divulge the most lucrative details. (The exception being market-leaders – they succeed because they know exactly who they’re talking to. And they do it by treating their persona-development like an archaeological excavation…)

Demographics

Every business starts their customer research by unearthing broad, general chunks of data on their target market’s:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Job title & salary
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Marital status

And this ‘demographic data’ is a great place to start understanding your audience. It shows you broadly where to look for customers – in terms of industry, geographical location or social media platforms.

But after uncovering these demographics, most middle-of-the-road brands will stop digging. 

Our market leaders however, know the gold lies somewhere deeper.

Psychographics

Brands who dominate their markets zone-in on specific segments of their audience (customers of a certain age, occupation, or location…) and they employ their trusty hand tools to uncover more intricate details about them, like:

  • What causes these customers pain – in life and work?
  • What are their biggest challenges right now?
  • What do they currently do to try and solve those challenges?
  • Where do they spend most of their time online?
  • What kind of content do they engage with the most?
  • What are their values? What do they believe in?
  • What do they like and dislike?

This second dataset is the secret to crafting a compelling brand, and a consistent stream of marketing messages that attract and convert your true fans, because it reveals what makes your customers tick.

And when you know what your customers want out of life, what keeps them up at night and what they value the most, you can develop products, services and messages that draw them in like bees to a giant pot of sicky-sweet, golden honey.

. . . .

HOW TO GET UNDER YOUR PERFECT CUSTOMERS’ HOOD

If you’ve been serving customers for a while, you’ll likely have plenty of information to use to build your first persona(s). However, if you don’t feel like you have enough details to confidently create some personas, here are more ways to get under the hood of the people you want to attract:

  • 1-1 interviews (or casual conversations)
  • Focus groups & surveys (many brands incentivise these by offering free or discounted products as a reward for taking part)
  • Online reviews & testimonials (from your customers or on competitor websites)
  • Online conversations & forums (Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups)

Not only will the above methods give you a priceless insight into the minds of your customers, it’ll also make communicating with them much easier for you.

In observing the way your target market communicates – in person and online – you’ll pick up the small nuances in their language, thus allowing your own brand to speak to them in a tone that’s familiar.

You’ll be equipped to position yourself as trustworthy. “Finally, a brand that gets who I am and where I’m coming from.” – Susie, your no.1 customer who champions your brand and spends all her hard-earn pennies on your stuff.

. . . .

SUMMARY

It can feel a little daunting, trying to figure out your buyer personas with little experience. And most SME’s skim over this part of setting up because it seems like a lot of work for little reward.

But, as we’ve already established, the rewards for truly knowing the people you want to engage are priceless and long-lasting.

Knowing your audience – and being able to share those details with everyone involved in your business – is the key to truly standing out in crowded markets. It’s the only way to get your favourite people to buy from you, rave about you, and keep coming back for more. And it’ll save you precious time and money that would otherwise be wasted on taking random stabs in the dark.

We’ve all heard the phrase “knowledge is power” and I can’t think of a more appropriate example of that truth than customer personas.

If you would like some help understanding what makes your perfect customer tick, and if you want to know how to make your products and services irresistible to your target market, send us an email. I know a thing or two about doing that.

*Just one example of a brand who didn’t understand their customers’ needs enough… In 1982, the world’s leading toothpaste brand – Colgate – tried their luck at frozen entrees. The product line failed miserably – in terms of sales and brand reputation.