Especially when you are not in direct physical contact with your customers, as in an online business, you need a good way of keeping their needs upfront. The more you know your customer, and are able to clearly demonstrate this knowledge, the easier you will find it to persuade customers that you are the one to best meet their needs.
There is a whole range of things that you can discover about your customers, and about where to prospect for further business, and a similar range of effort and costs associated with that discovery process.
Basic personas help you know your customer
As a minimum, you will want to know demographics of gender, location, marital status, family, occupation, interests and what your customer or customer’s business is trying to achieve. You might look at education and income levels, about how they spend their money and what they do in their free time. For business to business, you will also want to know where they sit in the decision-making process, how long their sales cycle tends to be, and who influences their choices.
Often companies draw up basic personas, give them names and photos and characteristics, at the start of a new project or launch of a new product and service, then the personas get filed and the customer floats to the back of minds as you get on with providing content and information that you think your customers might need – as opposed to checking new developments back against those original, carefully drawn-up personas.
This customer knowledge should be the prompt for all that you do, and keeping your customer at the forefront of all your company activity is the way to ensure that you keep on track to deliver the things your customer really needs, as opposed to what you think they need.
With good use of metrics you can calculate a customer’s lifetime value, you can see how many times they have logged in to your site, on what platform or device and how much they spend with you each time. But you need to get further, you need to discover what makes them feel good about buying, and what triggers them emotionally to do business with you and to continue doing business with you.
The basic persona information can be a good framework to start your relationship with your customers, but it is really only a starting point for you to discover their story – and if you can connect with them in some way as part of their story, then you have a chance to build credibility and trust with them and become the valued person that they turn to for more, and who they would recommend to their friends and colleagues.
To do this well you will need to truly understand them, understand their business and their industry alongside their challenges and personal values, so that you can add the most value to their journey, at the point where they need it most.
By starting with good research, you will find the something in common that you can talk about, then develop a real relationship with them from there. Establishing good communication with existing customers and understanding their position will enable you to develop strategies for communication with prospects and allow you to expand and extend your offerings accordingly.
Developing your relationship through emotional contact and storytelling means that you can get to the heart of what the customer needs and be in a good position to supply it. Clever content marketing really lends itself in support of this approach, and when you know where your prospects and customers hang out online, what social spaces they spend time in, you have a high number of small opportunities to establish and continue contact, developing that relationship of trust and shared knowledge that will allow you to secure new business.
Sharing these personas in your company will add value to all of your interactions, and will enable improved targeting of product, services and content. This will allow you to move with greater focus and to make progress faster as you develop your relationship with your prospects and customers.
If you are unsure where to start with personas and customer knowledge, please get in touch; I would love to show you how marketingondemand ltd can help you develop these ideas, embed them into your company processes, and allow you to know your customer better.