When you have a killer small business with so much to offer, it is excruciating when your customers are lagging, barely trickling and social engagement is totally meh. Often times, the root cause has nothing to do with your awesome products/services or how you uniquely offer them. More times than not, it has so much more to do with how you're approaching customer relationships and marketing communications in general. Sure, you know who you want to do business with, but that's only the first step. What you're missing is the secret sauce in attracting, acquiring and retaining these rock stars to grow your business. In order to do that, you need to have a clear picture of their interests, needs, wants, and the lengths they'll go to get them. With that knowledge power, you'll find that your messages, marketing approaches and overall understanding translates into you being able to do your job better. And that's knowing exactly how to reach, talk to and serve your customer base.
So what's this supposed secret sauce? Lets talk about how audience targeting, personas and YOUR voice are the three key ingredients to creating brand recognition that fosters and grows your small business.
AUDIENCE TARGETING & PERSONAS
You killed it at laying down your high-level target client profile in the Strategy Discovery article of this Brand Discovery series (brush up here if you missed it). Next, we’ll transform this profile into personas. You may have heard these referred to as “buyer personas” or maybe “marketing personas.” Whatever the label, these are simply just totally made up characters that represent the breadth and depth of your target customers. Each character dives deep into your audience to map out details like their specific needs, interests, goals, and preferences. While the characters are essentially made-up, the details in each persona are 100% authentic and true when it comes to your actual target audience. The purpose and value in developing these personas for our use behind the scenes is so that we may cultivate a deep understanding of our targets. In turn, we drive content, products, services and communication that directly speak to, attract and nurture ideal customers. Besides, by having a clear understanding of how our customers think, we can unlock what motivates their buying decisions.
Where do I get the real meat and potato details to build my personas?
In order to conceptually humanize your target audience, we pull from information and data we have right in front of us:
Existing business owners can dig into:
Your contacts list and customer database! Scan through your people. Find trends among those who are currently consuming your business. Of course you’re only as strong as the data you’ve been collecting here, so pull whatever you can.
Survey or form data! Have you been asking customers how they hear about you? Have you been asking for feedback on how and why they use your product/service? Data points in these areas speak directly to need fulfillment, information gathering behaviors, perception of your product and so on.
Sales experience feedback! How do you receive your current customer traffic? What themes or consistencies can you draw from the walks of people purchasing with you?
Talk and engage! Be real and talk with your customers. Ask them what they think about you. What do they love? What would they love to see? How could you service them better? Be open to receive all kinds of feedback (pssst, here’s the hanger to put up your ego, it’ll just get in the way).
Emerging business owners dig into:
Market research! What target client markers have you uncovered that justified the service and location for where you will be doing business?
Competition! Who is buying from competing businesses in your future market space?
Opportunity! What are the consistent customer characteristics and/or needs not currently being fulfilled by another business or concept? Besides, that’s why you’re creating your business, right!?
Now you’re ready. Let’s get busy! Grab this stellar Personas Template freebie. This editable Microsoft Word template is formatted for you to customize specifically for your business. Dive in, get to work and “save as” for each of your persona profiles:
In this template, I've broken out the persona categories as listed below. Not all businesses are created equal, so if you have an additional category or data point you need captured, add it!
AT-A-GLANCE: Age, Gender, Income, Occupation/Job Title, Hobbies, Location
GOALS & DREAMS: Career-related goals and broad life dreams
PAINPOINTS: Challenges they face in the roles they play, how they can overcome them and how you create a solution
INFO ACCESS: Where they get information, what social channels they are on, how they prefer to communicate
SHOPPING: How they prefer to shop (in person, online, their phone) and if/how/what they research before purchases
For sake of example, here is what a completed persona could look like:
If you’re at this point and still feeling just completely under water; deep breaths. I’ll never leave you hanging! There’s a great read called Target Groups Untangled geared specifically to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Unscramble your brain with this read as it presents simple, clear structure and language to lead you into better understanding how to approach defining your niche and targets. Be sure to revisit here and dig back in when you're ready!
With personas in hand, you’ve specifically identified your buyers, what they want, why they want it and the lengths they’ll go to get it. Next, let’s tie in how to use YOUR voice to speak directly to them so they hear you. Marketing your precious business is all about getting your messages out to the right people at the time they need it… whether or not they know they’re looking for it. Because it’s relevant to them, it resonates with them. They may follow, engage, take note, or ultimately convert. In either case, all beautiful steps play a part in building your brand recognition. This takes persistent consistency, authenticity, and engagement.
Quick story for you...
While speaking with a friend of mine about getting her new business “out there,” she expressed how hard she was trying to find her voice. This struck me. For all of us in the small business world, such a HUGE part of why people do business with us is because of… us. YOU are the strongest asset of your business. People choose your business not only because it’s awesome, but especially because of the “it” factor you bring to it. So, think about when you’re in your element. You’re totally in your jam and words flow. When you're there, you don’t have to try. THAT is authenticity. THAT is your voice and you already have it. Creating marketing messages that get our businesses “out there” is all about using your existing, authentic voice to talk to your people (aka the personas you just mapped out)!
So, the point is, don't overthink it. Speak human, be meaningful, real, honest and above all, share valuable content. You'll become sticky, you'll see followers grow, you'll watch conversions unfold and you'll be on your way.
Okay so, let me know how you made out on this one and DO TELL some of the crazy names you used to label your personas! As always, please share and get in touch if you have questions. I’m here for you!
Next up, we’ll explore how to develop a goal plan for using your voice effectively to reach your targets, across platforms. See you there and keep at it genius, you’re killing this.
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10. Exclusive Brand Showcase: Stay Tuned!