Very often when I talk to new business owners and, more worryingly, established businesses owners about what the target market is for their products the answer is everyone. It’s nice if everyone buys what you are selling, but it is not a good idea to sell to everyone, one because that is a crowded market with lots of people trying to sell into it and two, believe me on this, not everyone wants your shiny new product or service.
If you are a crisp seller with this attitude it may be tempting to advertise in ‘Health & Fitness Nut Weekly’* due to its cheap rates and rocketing circulation figures, but sales will be disappointing. A high fat, high salt snack will not be appealing to goji berry munching fitness fanatics. If you are still convinced your product will be bought by everyone fine, I will not try to persuade you otherwise; however, I am absolutely convinced that you do not want to market to everyone. Marketing involves time and money so you will want to get the best return possible. Some people will buy more than others and some people will be sold to less by your competitors, so these are the people to target, and this is where segmentation, personas and less comes in. Think in terms of planting seeds in drills, or even singly in holes, rather than scattering them all over the place. Less seeds, but more harvestable plants.
Personas are a representation of the goals and behaviours of a hypothesized group of customers. They are not a single customer. Getting enough detail, but not too much is key. Georgina having two children, Imogen and Tarquin, driving a blue Volvo and owning a Bichon Frise, called Fluffy, might be starting to be too specific; however, differentiating between a lapdog or a larger breed might be useful and is that Volvo an estate or a sporty model and how old is it?
It is not about dreaming up a fictitious character, it is a personalised composite sketch of the information you know about segments of your target market. Creating one needs data and research. Start with some quantitative analysis of your customer database, this will at least give you some basic demographic information, buying frequency, order value and may indicate seasonal trends.
Next you need to fill in the gaps with some qualitative research and analysis. The best way to do that is to talk to customers and prospective customers. Radical and scary I know, but it will give you a wealth of useful information. You are then ready to build the persona or personas. When you have done that perform a reality check; do your products or services match what the personas would want or need.
Now comes the fun part – using the persona. You would be amazed how many people generate a persona, including a nice stock image, stick it on the wall then forget about it. Use it every time you generate anything aimed at a customer and make sure anyone (internal or external) who is writing copy, managing social media, etc. has a copy of each persona and understands them.
If you perform an internet search you will find plenty of information about creating personas and templates you can use. Some of it is good, some is not so good, just remember the principles above and that less is more until you have reach the optimum point then less is less. Oh and one last thing not everyone will be your customer.
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* ‘Health & Fitness Nut Weekly’ – this is a fictitious publication