Who Buys What You Sell: Personas for the Small Business Owner in Four Easy Steps
Written By: Michelle Nunez-Mendoza, MBA
Do you know who buys your products? I mean really know? For brick and mortar businesses the answer may seem simple because you see them every day. For online businesses the answer is much more complex.
So why does it matter who buys as long as they buy right? Wrong – it matters. A lot. Companies spend countless hours, even years dissecting this very question. The answer may even change over time. Companies that truly understand this are best equipped to offer the products and services that will create lasting impact and preserve customer loyalty.
One way to accomplish this is to create personas. A persona is a fictional representation of your target customer. It goes beyond demographics and examines their emotions and motivations, which ultimately drives their buying behavior. If you think this is just marketing fluff, walk into an American Girl store on a Saturday. They’ve got it down pat. And they recently hit a home run with their latest campaign.
So how can small business owners create their own personas? Here are four steps you can take to get started:
Step 1: Talk to Your Customers
Don’t be scared – they already buy from you so they already like you. Create a simple survey asking them the following questions: 1) How often do you buy from us? 2) What products appeal the most to you? (Be specific here. Actually list your products and have them rank them). 3) If we sold X, would you be interested in buying it? This will give you an indication of what your customers look like and what their buying preferences are.
Step 2: Pinpoint Their Emotions
Humans are emotional creatures. We make impulse buying decisions every day. You’ve probably done it yourself. Think about some of the items you’ve purchased recently. I guarantee at least a handful were impulse purchases. So how can you entice your customers to purchase your products based on this very principle? You can tap into their emotions. For example, if you know that your customers are passionate about buying products that are good for the environment, then you need to position your product or service as environmentally conscious. Let them know that you support sustainable business practices.
Step 3: Identify Trends
Once you understand a little bit about who you your customers are (age, income, life cycle stage), you can look for buying trends that match your customers. For example, we know that Gen X Moms are highly influential. They make a lot of household buying decisions. If your customers fall into this category, then you can tailor your promotions and marketing messages to this group.
Step 4: Customize Your Message
Now that you’ve gotten a good picture of your customer persona, it’s time to tailor your message just for them. Remember, this is more than demographics, you’re looking to speak to their needs and desires, and how your product or service fits into their lives. Going back to our environmentally conscious customers as an example, you can create an email campaign where you tell your customers all about your sustainable practices. If you have a physical storefront, you can set up a recycling station and offer a coupon for customers who bring in their ink cartridges to recycle. This may seem like a minor gesture, but for a customer base who is passionate about this topic, it will go a long towards building consumer credibility.
Michelle is a Miami Femfessionals and seasoned marketing communications professional with over 12 years of experience in marketing and copywriting. She began her career at General Mills LASA, the Latin American division of General Mills, and at Costa Farms, one of the largest distributors of foliage and bedding plants in the U.S.