Part of your job is and always will always be knowing what they want, and being able to show them. The first step is understanding your customer, so you can that far ahead in the process. While that is a matter of your personal industry and experience, there are some points you have to address if you are going to build a real customer persona.
They Probably Don't Trust You... Yet
Customer trust is at an all time low. For the last several decades, businesses have been expanding their reach, but exposing themselves in the process. The creation of an open platform of reviews and critiques has made the average consumer incredibly cynical. Considering the dirty tricks of many companies, especially large ones like Coca-Cola and Comcast, this isn't a big surprise.
Smaller businesses are unfortunately subject to the same scrutiny, if less scathing. Customer trust is not an automatic, but something you have to earn through consistent quality, customer care, and positive marketing impact.
Don't go into a situation assuming you have your customer's trust until you prove otherwise. Jump in with the full expectation of having to prove your worth. It is an investment that will pay off. Because in a world where so little consumer trust exists, it is incredibly valuable when you get it.
If You Don't Offer Them Something Unique, They Won't Be Loyal
Competition is intense for all businesses out there, especially with the market widening to include startups and small businesses that can easily expand once they carve out their corner of the market. If your customer is being offered something special from the other guy, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are going to take it.
The good news is that you have an inside look into exactly what that other guy is doing. Roadmaps with coming plans are commonplace. News is plastered all over blogs. You can even sign up yourself, and try out a service or products completely anonymously. Market research has never been easier, especially when looking at your opponents.
When you know what is out there, you can add a little something extra to entice your customers to stay (or take some from your competitors). This might be an issue as simple as price, but there are other elements to focus on.
For example, you could be an open content source, like MyBlogU. You could be an innovative content ROI optimizer, like Trendemon. You could be a combination team communications tool/community builder like Slack. Or maybe you don't have more features, but you have better customer service.
Offer more, and your customer's will be happy enough to stick with you.
Demographic Is Important, But Not Everything
Basic demographics are always going to be a part of understanding your customers. This includes their age, their gender, and some additional information like their education status and economic placement. It just isn't everything, and there is plenty of other data that can benefit you even more.
What are their buying habits? What do they do for a living, and will your product potentially help them with that? Do these people have families, and if so, what are the age ranges of other people in the house? Are there a set of related interests that could narrow down their personality? What's their lifestyle like? Do they travel a lot? Stick around home? Attend any particular community activities? How does this impact their likelihood of connecting with your brand?
Social media and marketing information are so easy to gather on the web these days, so those questions are relatively simple to answer. From there, you can start establishing patterns that give you a much more complete complete customer persona that you can use to better understand who it is you are selling to.
The days of boring demographic are over. Now, it is all about complete analytics, and total lifestyle and personality profiles. Never before have we been able to see so much about the people we are targeting. Here are some easy tools:
- Twitter demographics tools
- Oktopost: Social media analytics
- GetResponse's email analytics
- Here are more startup resources to help!
Appeal To Their Values, As It Pertains To Your Brand
This is a fine line to walk. But your customers want you to appeal to their values, to an extent. You don't want to go too far, because then you start to alienate others, or give yourself some kind of bizarre political message. No one needs that, not in the professional realm.
Instead, ascertain what your customer's value as it directly pertains to your brand. If they are very involved with family, you can tout yourself as a tool or product for people with children. Maybe they are very career driven, in which case you can show your product as being perfect for those who need a bit more organization or productivity.
Make Your Customer's Life Easier
Find out what is important to your customers, and then mold yourself to fit the image. Solve their problems: This is the best ways to turn them into believers!
If you want to help your reader solve complicated issues, come up with a very easy to understand format. For example, here's of the easiest guides to blogging I've ever seen. If you are in the industry where there are lots of questions, create a helpful q&a site and let your team share their expertise: That's what Moz did with their SEO q&a section.
Make your (ecommerce) site bookmark-worthy for your one-time customers to want to come back!
Understanding Is Key
Understanding your customer is the primary method of properly marketing to them, and growing your brand. Looking at the elements above will help you to do that, and so establish a customer persona that you can use for more narrow targeting in the future.
Have any tips? Let us know in the comments.