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Meet the Imaginary People Who Hold the Key to Attracting Qualified Leads

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If you don’t know who your customers are, how will you find others like them?

You can have 10 customers, thousands of customers, or even millions. How much do you know about them? Are you as familiar with what makes them tick as you are with the features and benefits of your own product or service?

You should. You must. They hold the key to finding and attracting qualified leads. The main difference between a customer and a qualified prospect is that a customer has already made a purchase from you. It’s why successful businesses distill customers into a single representation called a persona.

Your best friend…who doesn’t really exist

A customer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. He or she is based on actual customer data and market research. These insights come from historical purchase data, as well as surveys and social media.

In real life, shallow people don’t tell you much. The fictional representation of your real customer will act the same way unless you build your customer personae with enough depth to perceive them as somebody who might walk up and say hello to you. When you know their problems and preferences, and what made them become customers, you know how to find more just like them.

Problems, problems

Your customer personae must have a problem. When you know what it is and how you’ll solve it, you can search out and target prospects who’ve indicated they have the same problem.

Spend a little time with me

Sing that to the tune of “Hey, big spender” if you like. Just make sure you build into your customer personae the knowledge of where they went to get the information that helped them decide to purchase your product or service. You need to be there to find the prospects just like them.

Building your personae

Sure, they’re fictitious. But don’t tell them that. As a matter of fact, you should let them do all the talking.

“Our ideal customer is a style-conscious female between the ages of 40 to 55.” A statement like this is often what you’ll hear from marketers describing a target customer. If you want deeper and more actionable insight, you’ve got to move out of third-person descriptions. Let the customer persona talk.

“I may be a Baby Boomer, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to know and wear the latest fashions.”

Which of these makes you feel like you know your customer?

Listen to me

Specificity. It’s a tongue twister of a word, but it’s dead-on in terms of the approach you must take to make your customer personae rich in detail. Don’t give them vague objectives. If you do that, you’ll create content and marketing messages with vague messages.

Prospects won’t respond. They want to be made to feel as if you’re speaking directly to them. This means you’re honing in precisely on their problems and what motivates them.

“Our ideal customer is frustrated by the lack of delivery options,” a marketing report might conclude. Research backs it up, but does it elicit an empathetic response that compels you to create content that’ll attract prospects with this same problem?

“Why is there only one way to get this?”

Which of these helps you better understand how to position your product or service to prospects?

Only one way

If you want to get to a level of understanding deep enough to generate these kinds of first-person statements, you have to get granular with details that thoroughly create customer personae. Use these questions and tips to help you get there.

  • Who are you? “My name is Stan and I’m 37 years old. I’m starting to lose my hair, but I work out and I’m in good shape. I graduated from college and I prefer the urban lifestyle, which is why I rent an apartment.”
  • What do you do for a living? I’m salesperson. And yeah, I’m real good at it, which is why I make $80,000 a year. I treat myself regularly for working hard. Okay, I know I should be saving more. But I’m not dumb with my money and I don’t carry high credit card balances.”
  • What interests you? “If it’s sports and involves watching it on TV, I’m a fan. But I do know it’s important to spend time on the weekends doing constructive things, too. So I volunteer at the local pet shelter. That really gives me a feeling of making a difference.”
  • What pushes your buttons? “There’s no way I could ever be a Republican, but I’m not all that interested in politics. I get a lot more hot and bothered about filling out forms. I hate that. Why can’t I just pick up the phone and talk to somebody? I worry a lot about big companies losing touch with average people like me.”
  • Who’s your hero? “I love hearing stories about people who come up through the ranks to become leaders.”
  • What kind of media do you consume? “My guilty pleasure is Instagram. It’s visual and it’s quick. That’s how I learn about trends. And, yes, I will go online and check with my Facebook network before I try a new restaurant. I know a lot of people with better taste than me when it comes to food.”

Do you know this person?

None of this is supposition if your business collects information about your customers. It’s a story you can create with the data. It constructs a persona. You can relate to them. You can speak to them. You know them. This persona represents who you need to find and bring to your website.

They may be imaginary, but you’ll know them inside and out. You’ll find it’s effortless to communicate with them because of your level of familiarity. If you ever did meet them, you’d know exactly what to say to them.

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