Why you should make your customers into imaginary friends
I didn’t have an imaginary friend, although not for want of trying. As a child, I had heard of imaginary friends and thought having one would be kind of cool. I did try. I just didn’t have the necessary imagination to keep playing with someone who really wasn’t giving me much in return.
Perhaps you had an imaginary friend, in which case this little exercise should be easy for you. Because I’m going to suggest that creating some imaginary friends for yourself right now is going to pay off in spades. Seriously. Your imaginary friends are going to turn your marketing from an expensive and time-consuming process of trial and error, to a targeted strategy that will get customers hammering your door down, wanting more of whatever it is you’ve got.
In more business-like (ahem – boring!) circles, these imaginary friends are referred to as ‘buyer personas’. So what is a buyer persona exactly?
Basically, a buyer persona is an imaginary – but representative – composite sketch of your target customer or customers. You need buyer personas to help you deliver content and marketing that will be relevant and useful to your audience. Without a buyer persona, you’re simply guessing what kind of content and product your customers will need and love.
Building buyer personas takes a little time but is well worth the effort. Once you have your buyer personas nutted out, every piece of content or marketing you produce will be carefully targeted with one of your personas in mind. And yes, you can have several buyer personas, but bear in mind that when you try to please everyone, you run the risk of being interesting to no one. That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid. So keep it to three or four max.
So how do you create your buyer personas?
- Put together everything you know about your customer demographically. This could include their income, their age, gender, their job, level of education, their marital status, where they live.
- Find out about their concerns and challenges. You could do this by simply asking existing customers what the burning problem was that they wanted you to solve (hopefully you did solve it!). Or find people that fit the demographic and ask them.
- Work out where these people gather. Not only will help you get more information about their concerns and challenges, but you’ll be able to target your content to the right channels. For example, if your product is a toolkit to help new mums balance their health and fitness with the demands of a new baby; you join online forums where new mums meet and share their concerns.
- With all this information, create a detailed outline of your target persona. Give them a name and find a photo that fits. Where do they live? Are they married? How many kids? What are their hopes, dreams, fears, challenges? How can you help? There are some great examples of buyer personas here.
- Don’t forget to use your personas. Stick them up next to your desk. Make sure that everything you do is targeting one or more of them.
That’s all there is to it. Research and develop your personas, build targeted and worthwhile marketing campaigns. Oh, and you probably should consider revisiting and tweaking them as your offer and marketplace evolves. Go forth and create your imaginary friends… just make sure none of them are Drop Dead Fred.