Are we speaking your language? That’s no accident. We choose our industries with intent—because no competitive advantage rivals experience.
You know who your ideal customer is, right? Most businesses we work with have in mind a customer persona—not a real person, but a general type of person they can readily identify and describe. This is information that you may already have absorbed subconsciously while working with your client base. Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably already been working with one in your mind for quite some time.
So, if you sorta kinda already have this, why do you need to formalize it? For several reasons:
In short, consumer profiles can go a long way toward helping your message reach the right people. But if you don’t already have one, where do you start?
In order to build a consumer profile, focus on key areas of information you need to effectively target that person. For instance:
This list is not exhaustive, but you get the idea: you want to build up a complete picture of your ideal customer’s behaviors, mindset, preferences, lifestyle, etc. You want to be specific, but only where the information is relevant. If you notice that 90% of clients who match a certain profile show up to meetings with a Mac and drink La Croix, that’s a trend you can pay attention to. Where no such trend exists, don’t make one up just to add detail.
Usually, you will have more than one customer “type” or persona whom you do business with. For instance, you may have a key piece of recruiting software that helps companies match with ideal employees. Your ideal contact is probably either the head of HR at a mid-to-large company, or potentially someone higher up like the CEO or the CFO. However, you will want to send a different message to whoever you’re talking to.
Let’s start with the head of HR. This person knows recruiting, and will be best qualified to judge the merits of your product. You can get into the technical nitty gritty, demonstrate that you speak their language, and hopefully win them over as a key internal advocate for your product. The HR director will be most affected by your product, but may not have the ability to sign off on it. For that, you may need the approval of the CEO or the CFO. But with this person on your side, that bid is likely to go much smoother.
On the other hand, if you find yourself directly in touch with the CEO of the company, you have completely different benefits to push. With this person, you’d expect to emphasize efficiency, the competitive edge it will bring the company, and the costs it will save in finding and retaining new talent. They won’t necessarily want to see how your software functions on a day-to-day basis, because that’s not what affects them. They need to know how it will impact the company on a large scale.
As you build your consumer profiles, look at how your customers move through the buying process. Do they make impulse purchases? Or do they only buy your product after a lot of research and a series of sales pitches? Are they the kind of customer who wants to interact with a demo on their own time? Or do they need a guided walkthrough from one of your sales associates?
Tying your personas and their buying behavior to your sales pipeline is where you will start to see real success and profitability with your consumer profiles approach. By matching a persona’s needs, pain points, and hesitations to a stage in the buyer’s journey, you can target each in turn, speeding them along the way and bringing them to a sale that much faster.
Occasionally, we meet someone who is convinced their product is for everyone. They’re so convinced of the virtues of their product, they can’t focus their messaging on any specific group. As important as their product may be, their persona is still limited by several obvious factors: not everyone may want their product. Not everyone can afford their product. Or perhaps, their product doesn’t fit in with a certain lifestyle. You’ll never sell your latest technological advancement to a luddite, or someone about to leave the country to live somewhere without electricity.
Coca Cola can’t sell their product to people who don’t like the taste, or who have health concerns about drinking sugary beverages. And even Mark Zuckerberg can’t get the entire world on Facebook if some people refuse to opt in.
So like it or not, you need to choose your customers. And in the long run, you’ll find you have far more success when you do, because people like to feel chosen. They want to know you made your product for them. Exclusivity sells.