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If you speak to thousands of people every day, the success of your endeavors depends on how much you connect with that audience with these potential clients, whether you are a blogger, a marketing professional, a Youtuber or a salesperson. If your message reaches people, you sell more, you generate more shares, and the demand for your services grows. On the other hand, if you create a message that no one cares about, you have failed. This summary introduces the concept of buyer personas, a tool to create a profile of your target audience and a complete story about your consumer.
Not knowing the desires and needs of your consumer is the right recipe for disaster. When entering a new market, it is critical to conduct surveys to understand your buyer. If you do not do your homework, your products will gather dust instead of generating profit. Surprisingly, this was precisely what happened to Apple when they launched the third-generation iPhone in Japan. Last year, the Japanese bought 5 million smartphones. The following year, when Apple introduced the iPhone, unlike the other markets where Apple acted and was a success, it managed to penetrate only 4% of the Japanese market (10x less than in the American market) and sold almost exclusively to users already accustomed with Apple products. The reason is quite simple, the Japanese were accustomed to shooting videos and watching TV shows on their cell phones, and the iPhone of that generation did not even have a camera with video-recording capability. So, to understand your customer's needs, you should get to know them. Unlike Apple, Turkish home appliance company Beko conducted interviews with potential customers before launching a clothes dryer in China. From the interview results, Beko's marketing team learned that most Chinese believe that "there is a spiritual component when clothes are exposed to the sun." So Beko produced a dryer for the Chinese market, making it possible to stop the cycle in the middle of the process, allowing customers to dry their clothes in the sun. That attitude was rewarded, and Beko's dryers were a hit.
To help you find out why customers make purchasing decisions and their preferences, you need to create Buyer Personas. They are detailed, semi-fictional descriptions of different types of potential customers. Buyer personas catalog clients' problems and needs, identify thought patterns and pinpoint the types of solutions in which these groups may be interested. Knowing the profile of each customer will tell you things such as their drinking habits, aspects you would never know otherwise. The following case study exemplifies: Regis Mckenna (a marketer) was asked to create Personas by a company that sold pocket calculators. He then observed how consumers selected their client's calculators from among the various options on the market. He found that when consumers were comparing models of different weights, they chose the heavier ones. Why? They associated weight with product quality. Mckenna took his discovery to his client and told them to go against common sense that smaller calculators were better. On the contrary, they should make calculators heavier than those of rivals. The client released new and heavier calculators, and his sales take off. Curious, isn't it?
In the beginning, it is common to find resistance from directors, managers, and other employees when implementing new proposals in the marketing department and it is very likely that this happens when you propose to align your marketing message and your products with your people. Some managers and team members may believe that the project is a waste of time and that the resources invested in identifying the profiles will never return to the cash registers. Another common excuse is to hear from traditionalists that they already know their customers. To convince them, set up a meeting with team members who do not believe in the new tool. During this meeting, ask them to pretend to be consumers of your products while you ask them some questions. Some good examples of questions would be: "When did you find out that you needed the kind of solution we offer?" "How do you evaluate the solutions of our competitors?" and "Why did you choose our solution, rather than the competition?" Note that most of the time team members think from the perspective of the company rather than the consumer. You will hear answers saying that "our company's products are better" or "they have the best cost-benefit." When this happens, it is enough to point out that the team is facing the customer as if he knows the internal workings and adopting the company's perspective, when in fact the consumer has limited knowledge about the company's business priorities and personal motivations to choose products and services. Obviously, if it were true that all consumers knew that our product offers the best cost-benefit, we would be market leaders, wouldn't we? How are we losing to the competition then? These are useful statements to prove to the participants that it is necessary to delve into the client's universe and adopt buyer personas as a tool to realign the communication and company products according to potential and existing customers.
Once your team has been working with personas, the next step is obvious. You will need to create the Persona. The work begins by scheduling interviews with potential buyers and clients. How are you going to contact them? First, you need to find your consumers, and for that, you will need help from the sales team. Although interviews and analysis are conducted by the marketing department, salespeople are the ones who know best their potential customers. They have a database of all who bought products or at least requested some information about your company (even if they chose the competitor). Within this database, you will find many people who are ideal candidates for interviews. But in addition to the help coming from the sales department's database, you may find interviewees outside the database from external sources. Do not necessarily believe that the sales team database will be perfect for you. For example, it may contain incorrect email addresses, old phone numbers, and so on. Also, external sources such as qualitative research agencies can help you reach not only the right people for the search but also people who have never had contact with your brand. Having feedback from these potential consumers can help increase your reach.
In an interview for buyer personas, the only question you need to think about and prepare in advance is the first question. In the end, the first question will be about the first time the interviewee realized that there was a problem to be solved. You can say, for example, "Tell me about the morning that you found out that you needed a new email marketing solution? What happened?" The response will probably not be a story with a beginning, middle, and end. He/she might give you a direct, closed answer that doesn't help you that much. Therefore, the ideal is to use open-ended questions, focused on understanding the situation better. To make these questions a bit more elaborate, you should listen carefully to the way he/she answers the questions. Let's consider the response to our hypothetical question. He/she may answer that the motivation to find a new solution for email marketing was the need to make more effective campaigns and measure the return on investments in strategic marketing. Here, the interviewee talked about the benefit of the solution adopted but did not answer the question. You want to know what caused the search for solutions, so you find out what the consumer wants. To find these causes, use the interviewee's own words when asking the next questions. You can say, for example, "Let's go back for a moment. You told me that you need to measure the return on your marketing investment and its effectiveness." What made these issues a priority for your business? This line of questioning can direct you to more direct and substantial answers as to why the consumer started looking for solutions at the outset.
To understand buyer behavior, you need to talk to them to reveal the Five Circles of Understanding the Purchase. By doing this, you will learn everything you need to know about your buyers' decisions. The first is Priority Initiative. You want to find out why some buyers decide to look for solutions and why others remain satisfied with the status quo. You can find priorities initiatives through the questions highlighted in the previous points. The second is Success Factors. These are the results that your buyer profile expects to obtain from the purchase of your product. Is she looking for greater efficiency? Cost reduction? Or something else? The next one is Identified Barriers. Here, you want to identify any reasons for a buyer perceiving your solution as inadequate as well as other existing hesitations. For example, your potential buyer may be concerned about the purchase privacy or perceive the company as unreliable. Then there is the Buyer's Journey. You want to learn about who and what influences your buyer and how he evaluates the options in the selection process. For example, if you are a company that sells to other companies, you may realize that the marketing director of the client company interferes with all buying decisions. This information can help you prioritize your marketing investments to ensure that you can work with the marketing director as well and engage him in the buying process as soon as possible. Lastly, the Decision Criteria is what designates the critical aspects of the optimal solutions for the potential customer as well as his/her expectations. You want to know things like whether he/she seeks a simple and user-friendly solution or if you need a more comprehensive package. Once you have identified the answers to these questions, you have finally completed the buyer's persona.
After putting the data together, what's next? Now begins careful analysis. Remember: you are not just looking for information to confirm what you already believe. Rather, you should aim to be as objective as possible to indeed discover what the customer needs. Where to start? Gather all the interview information in a single story for each circle. If you have interviewed 20 buyers, you do not want to have 20 different results. Instead, you want to aggregate the information into a single discovery. Obviously, this does not mean gathering all the information without context. You should still group your data for each of the 5 Circles of Understanding the Purchase. Separate the data for each circle on a sheet of paper. On each page, find a memorable phrase, identify who said it, and add a clear title that draws your attention to what was said. For example, when writing about the Decision Criteria circle, you may have identified the following phrase from a potential buyer: "I do not want to spend my money to create a solution specifically for us. Instead, I want something that already exists, but which may also serve the purposes of the enterprise. " In the next column, write the source of the quote: "Tony, Director of Marketing." And in the other column write the title that easily identifies what he meant. When you have completed this exercise for each of the five circles, you have arranged the answers to all interview questions. With these answers, you will discover the essence of your buyer's story in a concise manner.
With the interview results, you are equipped to address this issue: the unique and primary concerns of your buyers. In interviews with your potential audience, you will identify your problems, challenges, passions, and motivations as you relate to the plethora of products available on the market. With the persona created, you will have the complete history of your buyer, containing the whole process of understanding about your consumption and buying habits. Now that you know what (s)he needs and understands their desires, the challenge is to connect what they want to hear with what you have to say. A good start is to catalog all your solution's features and value propositions in a "benchmark of your product." Review the list of buyer needs, problems, and motivations to come up with a list called "Buyer Expectations." Put both lists side by side and look for points of intercession, that is when your arguments meet customer expectations. Another interesting tip is: if you have encountered a recurring customer problem that your product does not solve, then maybe there is a great opportunity for innovation. For example, if durability is a defining characteristic of your product and the customer is looking for long durability, then you can connect these points. Write a sentence about each of these combinations - things like "We are flexible and able to adapt our solution to your unique needs." That way your creative / marketing and sales teams will know what kind of message to convey.
Now you can finally get your Buyer Personas and apply them to your company, ensuring that your product is advertised to the right audience, has the advantages and characteristics, that it cares about and its service is personalized.
If you do not know who you sell for, you fail to capture value, you can sell it to the wrong person, or you can waste it by investing in resources that your client does not value. Buyer personas are a fantastic tool to realign not only marketing but your entire company around the actual buyer of your products and services.
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