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posted: 1/17/2018 1:00 AM

Create buyer personas to help in your small business marketing tactics

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Uncovering and understanding demographic information about your customers will only provide you with limited knowledge about the most effective direction and tactics in reaching and connecting with your targeted customers. It is equally important to understand your customer's needs and expectations, what you communicate to them, and best methods to insure you effectively connect with your customers.

Creating a "buyer persona" for each group of customers to whom you are marketing and selling your products and services will provide you with greater insights. Buyer personas help you discover the specifics behind what motivates individual customers to seek out and purchase your product or service. It identifies the buyer's behavior, their shopping habits, and the most effective medium to connect with more of your prospects and existing customers.

Some of the more powerful benefits of creating buyer personas include:

• Improves your marketing focus, and determines the customers that are worth your time and marketing dollars.

• Provides insight to help you more effectively craft your sales pitch, marketing content, and overcome competition.

• Helps you determine the best marketing channels and advertising venues to reach your ideal customers.

• Enables you to deliver your buyers a more personalized shopping and buying experience throughout the sales process.

• Increases sales revenues by focusing your product & service efforts on satisfying the needs of your ideal customers.

How do you create buyer personas for your small business? Here are some helpful tips to guide you.

1. Give objective thought and consideration to what you presently know about your existing customer base.

• Determine the characteristics and needs that your customers have in common.

• Map the customer shopping and buying journey -- how and when do you fulfill meeting their needs.

• Uncover their demographics including age, gender, income, marital status and educational level.

• What's the best way to reach my customers -- face to face, social media, networking, email campaigns?

• Identify the moments of truth at each touch point in meeting their needs to capture and maintain their business.

2. Have short precise feedback conversations with your current, prior, and prospective targeted customers.

• What challenges do they have in common?

• What needs are most important for you to solve for them?

• How did they find your product or service?

• What made them want to use your products or services?

• What do they like about doing business with you?

• Did you meet their expectations at each touch point as they do business with you?

• Why have they continued to do business with you rather than with your competition?

• If you lost them as a customer, why did they leave and go to the competition?

3. Be extremely careful how you ask customer questions and evaluate their feedback. Common misconceptions or traps you may fall into as shared by Alexander Osterwalder of Strategyzer include:

• You're certain you already know what your customer's want and fail to test your ideas.

• You rely more on your opinion which may lead to hallucinating about what you think customers want

• Questions should be worded to probe for hard facts vs. soliciting opinions

• Dig deep and uncover hidden gems from customer feedback

There may be other overlying factors that need to be considered including your industry, type of business, competition, seasonal demands and overall demographics that will affect the number of buyer personas you may have to develop.

Fox Valley SCORE provides free confidential mentoring to clients in 17 locations throughout DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties. If you need help with existing business challenges, or are thinking about starting a new business, visit our website and click on the blue bar "Book a Mentoring Session." Click on "Take a Workshop" gray bar to register for one of the many free workshops during the year.