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Entrepreneurship, Startup
Demographics, a cornerstone of marketing, is quickly being replaced by Customer Personas. Marketing theory has traditionally said that customers all fit within prescribed demographics; age, gender, socio-economic status, education, profession, hobbies and more. While the traditional way of segmenting customers might have worked in the past, the theories can only serve to act as a lesson on what not to do.
These profiles sound nice, but they’re nearly worthless and provide next to no valuable insights into a market. Empty descriptions that might describe one customer, but completely fails to recognize all the secondary and tertiary opportunities that exist. This failure to connect can leave vulnerable startups missing out on early adoption and a greater understanding of their product-market fit.
The reason so many company’s marketing fails to connect is because teams never leave this flawed approach—they think they know what their customer should be, but they really have no clue who their customer is.
Stale approaches like, “Do you want to increase your productivity?”, “How would you like to try out product X?” or, “Want to lose weight, click here!”
This 👏 Doesn’t 👏 Work 👏
Marketing Fails Because it Isn’t Speaking to The Customer
Forget the tired demographic stats.
Customers are not age ranges, job titles or salaries. They’re living, breathing, active people. And they can see through marketing BS instantly. Just like you, they have a fine-tuned sense of marketing BS and are not going to fall for a weak message.
Countless marketing and advertising executives trip all over themselves to make messages easy to understand and in the process dumb down marketing for the lowest common denominator. This completely overlooks that they’re selling a complex product to a discerning market who want to be treated like an intelligent adult.
Customers are people, speak to them in the way you would want to be spoken to and magically a conversation can start. The brands winning on social media didn’t learn this, they intuitively knew it before they even started.
To really connect with your customers, ditch the latest shiny thing, drop the marketing speak and start to focus on them, as a person. This requires more research and digging to fully understand the ‘why’ embedded in everyone’s thinking. Instead of knowing that they are 24-55 years old, urban, completed post-secondary education and make between $75k and $90k, ask yourself, why do they do things, what do they feel, what would they think about this?
Why do they do live in the city?
John works for a big bank downtown and hates the thought of losing three hours of his day commuting.
What do they feel about it?
Living in the city isn’t who he is, a small town is more his speed.
What do they think about it?
Living in the city is short-term pain for long term gain. He hopes to open a financial advisor business in a small town.
By asking questions of your customers you can start to learn what makes them tick. Drop the pretense and assumptions, they’re most likely wrong anyway. Start asking questions, listen and understand what your customers say. By understanding who your customer is, the easier it will be to build a customer persona. Then set you up in a stronger position to start the marketing conversation. Knowing their motivations is a far more successful sales approach than grandiose promises or bait techniques.
The best way to understand your customers is to build out a customer personas for each segment. A customer persona is a snapshot of who your market is—a fictional character with a name and face who embodies all the traits of your typical customer. This allows you to visualize who you’re speaking with and connect in a direct way to them.
Personas help everyone in your company; marketing, sales, product, customer success and service can all lean on a well-crafted persona to see if their work is aligning. It is someone you can lean on and relate to as a real person. Having a deep connection to your customer personas is a major part of creating the right content for them, developing the right features or services for your product, devising sales strategies and follow-ups, really anything that involves outbound communication and sales. Instead of asking, “will this work?”, you team can now ask, “what would (customer persona) John think of this?” Having the right personas can take out some guesswork of marketing, just look at these stats to show the positive shifts it produces (source):
  • Companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are over twice as likely to create personas than companies who miss these goals.
  • 71% of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas.
  • 47% of companies who exceeded sales and revenue goals consistently maintain their personas.
  • 37% of companies who simply meet revenue and lead goals have documented personas.
With a clear understanding of who your customer is as a person, and not a demographic representation, you and your team are ready to adjust your marketing messages so they can now connect directly with them. In turn, you can now expect to see your marketing picking up steam and starting to work for you.
So, who are your customers?
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