Published: March 1, 2016
If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of two types of people.
1. You’re someone who knows everything there is to know about your customer or customers, without a shadow of a doubt. You think you know what your customers really want.
2. You’re someone who places a great value on your customers and serving them well but recognize that in this constantly evolving digital landscape, you can never possibly know everything there is to know. You’re open to change and willing to learn, even if it happens over time.
These two very different schools of thought lend themselves to vastly different results. The first is often coupled with an ‘inside out’ perspective, the kind that is skewed by rose colored corporate glasses. The ones that, despite what you think, lend to missing out on really truly knowing, communicating with, and understanding your customer on an ongoing basis.
The second is much better poised for success. This type of person knows that building a truly valuable relationship with customers, understanding their (oftentimes) changing needs, and building digital strategies that support them while lending to business growth…happens over time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint – mainly because to truly understand your customer it’s more than just demographics. It’s much deeper.
This person echoes and acts on what Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Such is the challenge to today’s marketers, particularly in a time where messages bombard customers by the boatload and most fall on deaf ears. Customer engagement is no longer a series of one-off experiences—it’s an ongoing dialogue. Companies need to be good listeners in the digital age, and that requires a new set of skills.
How Do You Do It?
If you best relate with the second type of person, you have before you a unique opportunity to really differentiate your brand in the eyes of your customer. But be warned, it’s a long road – not a hard one, but it takes commitment.
- Create Personas. In an effort to get to know their customer better, many leading business have turned to creating buyer personas. A persona is a composite sketch of a segment of your target market designed to help brands align with buyer’s needs and priorities to build engagement that results in a profitable relationship.
- And Use Them! The most common question we hear after a persona development process is: Now what? How do I use these? After creating your personas, you’ll have a better understanding of where your personas spend their time. Reallocate your ad spend to where they are, speak in their language, use their lingo, find and target prospects because you know what they need. The opportunities are endless and it turns mass communications into a laser-targeted approach.
- But Never Stop Evolving. The personas are written up, printed out, and if you’re lucky, posted on the wall in the campaign “war room”. Once completed, the task is checked off the list and it’s onto the next job in the queue. Wrong! This is the key difference between our two types of people. One thinks the job is done. The other knows good personas will constantly evolve.
You’ve got to know your customer. EVERYTHING – content, marketing, sales, business – will fail without first decoding your audience personas, understanding how to reach them, mapping their customer journey, and evolving with them every step of the way.