Whether you’re a business owner, marketing expert or sales professional, you’ll know that you only have so much time in the day to devote to lead generating activities with which to drive up sales and grow your customer base. You could spend a huge amount of time creating content, attempting to engage with people on social media, attending networking events and having face to face and online meetings without seeing the return on investment that you’d like. For that reason, identifying exactly the right type of people to target is crucial. Creating a profile or “buyer persona” will enable you to list all the important characteristics of your ideal customer. By building this profile and putting yourself “in the shoes” of these people, you’ll be able to develop a marketing strategy that will substantially improve your success rate, converting prospects into profitable, regular spending customers. In order to do this you need to look closely at the following areas.
This is particularly important when selling B2C when you’re wanting to profile customers by age, gender, education, occupation, disposable income and other socioeconomic factors. You’ll also want to take into account values and beliefs, tastes, leisure habits and lifestyles.
Where you operate B2B, you need to be clear about who has the money, authority and need to purchase your products or services and what their job title is. What is their role and responsibilities? What does a typical day look like for them? What are the key challenges, issues and pain points that they experience in the course of doing their job?
If you’re selling online to your customers, where they’re based is less important, but if you’re wanting to build lasting relationships with people and provide a service face to face, then it makes sense to concentrate on businesses that are relatively local and in doing so reducing the time and expense involved in travelling to them. One could also argue that it’s more productive to concentrate your efforts in the immediate area where awareness of your business and reputation can be built more quickly and where referrals are more likely. But you need to balance this with bigger, more lucrative opportunities that may exist further afield where the profit potential might be greater.
What types of business are going to be most receptive to your approaches? Consider the industry and market sectors they operate in. What size of business are they? Are they pre-starts, startups or established businesses and are they growing, static or declining? Are they predominantly public or private sector?
Whether you’re operating B2C or B2B, it’s really helpful to know how people are developing their knowledge and skills, whether it be consumers improving their understanding of fashion trends or business owners becoming better at managing their operations, increasing efficiency and improving regulatory compliance. What events, whether face to face or online, might they attend to develop themselves? What learning resources might they use? What websites might they regularly visit? What professional bodies or societies might they belong to where they can meet with like-minded people and learn from leading industry thought leaders?
How are people engaging with others and growing their personal and business networks? You should try to identify what the most popular social media platforms are and what online groups your target audience belong to. For example, you should have considerably more success generating leads with professional organisations via LinkedIn than you would through Instagram or Pinterest. What face to face or online networking are people doing to grow their contacts? Who are the people that they’re influenced by?
It’s helpful to understand what people are buying, how much they’re spending and the frequency with which this happens. What other products or services might they be buying at the same time? Are they fairly affluent consumers or businesses with larger budgets? Are they driven more by quality than by price? Are there any constraints on purchasing such as when companies are tied into a contract and are unable to renew for a particular time frame without substantial penalties? What is their procurement process? How does your target audience prefer to buy? Do they generally buy online or look to have face to face contact at the point of sale? People often buy based on recommendations and might approach accountants, banks and other similar organisations for advice before making a decision. Who are your potential customers most likely to go to for advice?
Doing this profiling exercise will help you immeasurably in the planning of your marketing and promotional activities and ensure that you get the best possible return on your investment in time, money and effort.
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