Where to Start With Your Marketing

By on February 3, 2015 in Marketing with 0 Comments

Starting LineThere are so many marketing options accessible to small businesses these days that it can be extremely difficult to know where to start. The tools are there to help you compete on the same level (or even at a higher level) than the big guys, but unfortunately most small businesses rush into getting a website and all their social media profiles together before really thinking about where to start – the customer.

Gaining a thorough understanding of your customer (or target customer if you’re just starting out) and documenting that information is an important step in the process. The best way to do this is to create a marketing persona, a fictional or composite character that describes the average of your best customer(s).

Having this information documented and in front of you will help you make decisions about the way you design your website, the way you describe your company and products, the channels that you use to reach them and how you use them and more. I would go as far to name your persona and find a picture to represent them, that way whenever you’re making a decision, you can look at that picture and think about how that person will react to your choices.

What Should You Include in a Marketing Persona?

You should include everything and anything that is consistent across your customer base and a little more. To do this, a lot of the time you need to make some assumptions, include some ranges (e.g age range 35-65 years, customer base skews toward female demographic, etc.), and make some generalisations. Ensure that you realise that by defining your target audience, you’re not excluding the rest of your audience, you’re just focussing on the people that are going to bring you the 80% of your business.

In some cases it will be necessary to have more than one persona, however, start with the primary customer in mind and decide later whether you need to build it out further. Some of the things you may include in your persona are:

  • Age, gender, where they live
  • Household income range, what they do for a living
  • What their family situation is, what their day generally looks like
  • What problems they face each day
  • What their primary life goals are, any other secondary goals
  • Common personality traits
  • Triggers that make them require your product/services
  • Where they’re likely to look for your product/services
  • What social media channels they likely use
  • What device they are likely to access the internet from
  • Where they will be when they access the internet
  • Common objections to your product/services
  • Real feedback that you’ve received about your product/services

What Does a Marketing Persona Look Like?

Using some of the above criteria, lets build this out into a practical example. To prove this is for all businesses, I’m going to use the example of an electrical wholesale business servicing electricians in a suburban area.

Age, gender, where they live 25-50, skews male, within 25km of shop – suburban area
Household income range, what they do for a living $70k-120k, self-employed tradesman
What their family situation is, what their day generally looks like Married, 1-2 children, up at 5:30am, back at 4:00pm to spend time with family and do admin work for business
What problems they face each day Short on time to manage their business and have quality family time
What their primary life goals are, any other secondary goals Provide for family, achieve work/life balance, run a profitable business
Common personality traits Casual approach to things, very familiar with their trade, strong work ethic
Triggers that make them require your product/services Required for a specific job, need parts fast rather than cheap but still price conscious
Where they’re likely to look for your product/services Familiar with electrical wholesalers, just needs to know whether its in stock before using work time to make a trip
What social media and other online channels they likely use Facebook – usually during a break or traffic, Google to find things as required
What device they are likely to access the internet from Mobile phone almost exclusively, not very computer literate
Where they will be when they access the internet From the car or job site
Common objections to your product/services Usually geared towards suitability to the job, not so much price as the bill can be passed onto their client
Real feedback that you’ve received about your product/services Items don’t lend themselves well to feedback, however, fast, knowledgable and quality customer service is always noted and commented on

As you can see, this information obviously wont apply to all of your customers, but its a good snapshot of your average customer.

How to Use a Marketing Persona

Now that you have this persona documented, refer to it whenever you’re making decisions. Here are some examples:

  • Mobile optimised website as most customers will access from mobile
  • Most customers are likely to look for a wholesaler and call so optimise to be found for ‘electrical wholesale’ and ensure there is a click to call button available
  • Have good enough internal staff systems to be able to determine stock levels quickly over the phone
  • Have a clear address on your site in text so that it can be clicked on and transported to GPS on their phone
  • Have product ranges described well on the website so that they appear in search results

Without a marketing persona, its likely that a business engaging a website designer could see the mobile site as a secondary communication tool or an optional add-on, but when you consider how the site will be used it should actually be the primary focus of the project.

Action Point

Now that you know how to create an effective marketing persona, document your own using the criteria in the table above. Consider how the decisions you’re currently making in your business align with the needs of that persona, make some adjustments and measure the effect. Remember that marketing is a series of experiments and that you must measure the effects of an experiment to determine whether or not it was a success.

If you would like advice or any help with your marketing persona please feel free to contact me.

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Luke Hodges is a digital marketing specialist that has experience spanning across large corporates, government, not-for-profits and SME's. He has a passion for applying the digital marketing techniques used in large organisations to small businesses to help them succeed and grow and has consulted for over 200 Australian small businesses. Luke comes from a strong technical background and has developed digital marketing strategies for a number of organisations, giving him a complete understanding of topics such as lead generation, conversion optimisation, web development, email, search and social. .

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