If you’re like most clients we work with, you’re either treading water with your small business digital marketing or you’re wondering how to get started. You know it’s something that’s practically required this day in age, but you’re not quite sure how to execute it in a way that makes a real difference for your organization.
What would it mean for your business if your website was generating consistent leads and your email list was seeing a regular influx of highly engaged subscribers?
Would it mean… higher revenue? Expanding your team? Launching a new product or service?
Whatever it means for your business, I’m hear to tell you that it’s possible. And today, I’m going to show you how.
You see, there’s one secret ingredient to your small business digital marketing strategy that will take your business or organization to the next level. We consider it the “secret sauce” of small business digital marketing.
Specifically, I’m going to show you the quickest way to deeply connect to your customers and radically transform your business’ bottom line… by developing buyer personas.
Why Develop Buyer Personas?
Take a moment to think back over the last two years of your business’ marketing.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- Are you wondering if your website is generating new leads and converting them to into customers?
- Have you been trying to decide which marketing strategy is going to give you the best ROI?
- Have you been “trying out” a blog because it seems like the thing to do, only to wonder if it’s doing any good?
- Have you wondered about tracking your analytics to measure your impact?
When we work with clients to develop buyer personas, it’s often because it’s apparent that their website, brand messaging, emails, and blog posts aren’t quite hitting the mark with their audience.
When you know exactly (a) what motivates your customer, (b) what their goals and problems are, and (c) how they go about meeting those goals or solving those problems, you’ll know exactly what to write about in your next blog post, which landing page headline to use, or what you should make your next email subject line — or even what new product or service to launch.
Take the time to develop your business’ buyer personas and your small business digital marketing strategy will have an instant leg up on 99% of your competition.
OK, So What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is simply a fictional representation of a certain segment of your audience, based on real data and insights you collect about their behavior.
Personas allow you to place your customers into buckets based on commonalities in their needs, wants, problems and how they go about fulfilling them.
Those insights can then be distilled into a guide that will inform a broad range of critical business decisions such as…
- the type of design you use for your brand identity and website
- the tone of voice you use in your messaging
- the content or resources you create for your customer
- and even the types of products/services you offer
Developing buyer personas for your business will provide you the opportunity to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.Developing buyer personas for your business will provide you the opportunity to put yourself in your customer's shoes. Click To Tweet
Walking a mile as your customer will allow you to see as they see and feel as they feel so you can focus all your efforts on meeting their needs and solving their problems, and allow your customer to deeply connect with your business.
Simply put, your goal is to tell the story of your customer.
Actually, the goal of developing buyer personas is to tell your customer’s story back to them (but more on that later).
How to Create a Buyer Persona
In a word… research.
Yes, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. But never fear… if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at this point, keep reading for some practical ways to keep this process simple.
What you’re research is looking for
So, when trying to figure out exactly what makes your customer tick, what information should you be looking for?
We’ve found this definition from CXL Institute to be very helpful when thinking about buyer persona research:
While there are plenty of templates and examples to follow online, think about modeling personas from your available qualitative and quantitative research focusing on:
- Behavioral drivers – These encompass your customers’ goals, what they want to accomplish, their journey to finding your business.
- Obstacles to purchasing – Take into consideration the hesitations and concerns your customers have. How do they view your product or service and how does that impact how much information they need to make a decision?
- Mindset – Your customers come to the buying experience with expectations and preconceived notions. Are they shoppers who want the thrill of the bargain or expect a more refined experience? Selling a weight loss program will be more emotionally charged than, say, selling routers.
Notice how they describe persona research. It’s not a simple profile of your customer and it doesn’t read like a job resume.
Instead, you should focus on your customer’s behavior. What drives them? What’s holding them back? What problem will your product/service solve for them? How do they go about making their decision?
Going back to the buyer persona definition above, ask yourself questions such as…
- What are their goals? What do they hope to achieve? What is it they are looking for from your business?
- What will happen once they reach those goals?
- What are they scared of if they don’t achieve that goal?
- What are their problems or challenges?
- Why do they think your business can help them?
- How did they find your business in the first place?
Obstacles to Purchasing
- What does their decision making process look like?
- What are their concerns about finding a solution?
- What information about your product or service do they need to make a decision?
- What motivates your customer?
- What are their expectations?
- If your business can help them achieve a goal or solve a problem, how will that make their lives better?
- What are their biases or preconceived notions about your business or your product/service?
So, now that you know what kind of information to gather from customer, let’s dive into to some practical ways to go about collecting it.
How to execute your research
It really comes to down to one simple tactic if you want to know who your customers are and why they do what they do: ASK!
You wouldn’t believe how many business have never asked their audience simple questions such as what and why.
As long as you’re genuinely interested, most of your customers will tell you exactly what they want and why. It makes people feel good knowing that someone is listening and that you genuinely care. But you have to ask!
Ideally, you want to be talking with (1) current customers, (2) prospective customers, and (3) your negative customers (those that didn’t buy).
To get you started, here’s a few of our favorite ways to gather this information…
- Interviews — Interviews are perhaps the most effective way to understand your customer. There is simply no way to replicate having an actual conversation with a real person. But remember, this type of research is not for gathering data points. Instead, your goal in an interview is to understand the psychology of your customer. Not only can you record what they say, but you can take note of how they say it.
- Surveys — Surveys aren’t as intimate as one-on-one interviews, but their reach is much more broad and they still provide valuable insight into the psychology of your customer. Additionally, surveys allow you to capture this insight within the context of the exact language your customer uses to describe their problem. So the key with surveys is to provide the customer with an opportunity to speak from their gut. Our ideal survey consists of questions the target audience finds stimulating and specific, but open-ended.
- Social Media — Most small businesses who employ social media are using it a content distribution channel. At the same time, most don’t realize there’s another way to utilize their social media channels — perhaps a most important way. Social media is a research gold mine. Just watch what people are talking about. Think of social media research as getting view survey results without having to ask any questions.
- Google Analytics — GA will help you identify simple insights such as… which pages on your site are getting the most traffic? Which blog posts are getting the most views? Where is that traffic coming from? (If you’re not using GA on your website first, bang your head on your desk, then contact us, like now, for a website audit).
- Heatmaps — I love heatmaps. A Heatmap will give you a quick visual report on what elements, subjects, or resources your site visitors are interested in. (If you’re not using heatmaps on your website first, bang your head on your desk, then contact us, like now, for a website audit).
Conclusion: Putting It All Together
Over the course of this article we took a look at what we consider to be the secret sauce that truly spices up every small business digital marketing plan — buyer personas.
We defined exactly what a buyer persona is, why your business needs them, and how to go about putting one together.
If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, our advice is to keep it simple and use your gut.
Remember, the reason you started a business in the first place was because you saw a need in the market you knew you could meet. So keep an eye on that need and never stop asking your customers exactly what they need and why.
Just be sure to “get it down on paper” and keep updating as necessary.
Questions or comments? Leave them below.