How to Market to Buyer Personas

It stands to reason that the better you know your customer the better you can market to them, but what does that really mean?

In a world where shouting louder doesn’t work anymore, marketing must be personal, authentic, and consistent.

I’ll share the approach I use and with which I’ve had success understanding who my clients’ ideal customers are, what keeps them awake at night, what would substantially help them, and how to convey the help you can provide. It’s a 360 approach that puts the customer firmly in the spotlight.

This approach works in B2B and B2C situations. I hope others will share their processes also. These are the 7 questions I ask to better understand my target audience:

  1. Who needs my product?
Photo courtesy of Marc Brubaker (CC)

Photo courtesy of Marc Brubaker (CC)

Let’s use my business as an example. This is a sketch rather than a finished portrait. Broadly, any company needing marketing strategy has the potential to be interested in my skillset. However, I’ve developed a niche working with companies in their early stages and Imarket specifically to them.

I’ve found they fall into four categories, or buyer personas:

  • Entrepreneurs and early startups
  • Small businesses that have run out of launch money
  • Small businesses that have a financial safety net
  • Evolved startups needing periodic support
  1. What is the goal of each buyer persona?
  • Entrepreneurs and early startups – to attract investment dollars, be acquired and make some money.
  • Small businesses that have run out of launch money – to survive, pay their household bills, and grow beyond survival mode.
  • Small businesses that have a financial safety net – to supplement their current income with the intention of ultimately replacing it.
  • Evolved startups needing periodic support – successfully launch marketing campaigns without hiring anyone extra.
  1. What do they look like?
  • Entrepreneurs and early startups – they tend to run very lean and move pretty fast.
  • Small businesses that have run out of launch money – they have no safety net and need to get their business to market now.
  • Small businesses that have a financial safety net – they tend to move more methodically and may disappear for periods of time.
  • Evolved startups needing periodic support – they need high performing and reliable resources that doesn’t want to be a full-time employees.
  1. What are their pains?
  • Entrepreneurs and early startups – they have no money and are often trying to meet all the demands of running a business by themselves or with a lean crew. They have to compete for investment dollars.
  • Small businesses that have run out of launch money – they have no money and are running out of time to validate that their business can be successful.
  • Small businesses that have a financial safety net – they are not able to dedicate all their time to launching their business and making it successful.
  • Evolved startups needing periodic support – they are looking for a seat at the big table but don’t have the budget for dedicated resources to get them there.
  1. What benefits can you offer that solve their pains?
  • Entrepreneurs and early startups – speed, knowledge, experience, and a reasonable fee.
  • Small businesses that have run out of launch money – education. There are some standard marketing tasks that I can teach small business owners to do for themselves. Rather than paying someone to do the tasks, they can spend a total of 4-5 hours with me and then do it themselves for as long as they need to.
  • Small businesses that have a financial safety net – flexibility. I can work around their availability, budget, and needs.
  • Evolved startups needing periodic support – flexibility, speed, knowledge, experience, and professionalism. I can jump in and out as needed and they don’t need to be scared about putting me in front of investors, clients, bosses, etc.
  1. What challenges will you have in selling to them?
  • Entrepreneurs and early startups – getting on their radar screen. They are so overwhelmed they don’t know where to look for help. They also tend to have preconceived notions about marketing strategy.
  • Small businesses that have run out of launch money – getting them to spend money on marketing and helping them become viable before the other shoe drops.
  • Small businesses that have a financial safety net – getting them to commit to developing a marketing strategy.
  • Evolved startups needing periodic support – getting them to venture outside their own team.
  1. What marketing message is about them?
  • Entrepreneurs and startups – You need to get your business to market. You’re wearing too many hats. Let a proven marketing strategist get you the results you’re looking for.
  • Small businesses that have run out of launch money – You need to get your business to market. Let a proven marketing strategist teach you how to get the results you’re looking for.
  • Small businesses that have a financial safety net – When you’re ready to launch your business to market, let a proven marketing strategist get there. One step at a time.
  • Evolved startups needing periodic support – You need marketing help now but you don’t need it forever. Let a proven marketing strategist get you the results you need.

When I go through this process with clients, we don’t fine tune the message until later. The nuggets are often in the nuances that customers share. Overburdening their words with our meaning puts the focus back on the product and away from the target audience.

Not only does understanding what matters to customers make your marketing more effective, it also forces the business and the products themselves to be better. And when your product is better, you sell more!

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