Who are you talking to?

Customer personas and how small businesses and nonprofits can use them.

Every time I watch television with my friends, we end up talking advertisements. The ad break will be over, and they’ll still be asking me why a company made such a terrible ad.

“I wouldn’t buy that,” my friend says.

“That’s because you’re not the target,” I say. “And they’ve created this for a particular audience a certain person.”

My friend usually ignores me and concludes that advertisers don’t get him, but I can sit by and smile and secretly know that most do. He just doesn’t notice that he’s buying already from the ones who are speaking to him, because it’s that darn good.

In fact, some businesses may even have a persona leading their communications materials that fits his personality and demographics eerily close.

Big names companies and marketers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from customer personas, though. Small businesses and nonprofits should spend the time to define their customer, get to know their customer, and learn how to speak to their customer.

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So what is a persona?

Yes, we know. Every single person is individual and shouldn’t be stereotyped. Yadda yadda. But research does back the fact that certain types of people with certain demographics and traits do follow trends.

A persona allows you to create your ideal customer — the individual who doesn’t just want your product or service but needs it in his or her life to be fulfilled. This mock-up of a “Buying Bill” or a “Needs-my-Product Polly” should have key facts and insights that drive your marketing and communication (and even small business) decisions.

How much money does your typical customer make? What keeps them up at night or causes them to chew their nails? How many kids does he/she have? Did he/she go to college? Does he/she use social media?

Dig into who your customer is and what makes him or her take action. As a small business or nonprofit, you’ve likely met your target customer/s in person, so making a persona can be as easy as putting Joe, that guy who stops in every Monday, down on a piece of paper.

Now what? Am I supposed to talk to my persona and pretend it’s real?

Sort of. You spent time making (or hired an awesome marketing agency — wink, wink) the customer persona, so you of course want to use it. And you can in a number of ways.

  1. Focus on the common problems your customer faces, and make sure your small business or nonprofit answers those problems and tells/shows your audience how it does.
  2. Sometimes we can’t speak to every single one of our target customers at once. With personas, you can segment your communications and be sure that the pieces are saying the right things to the right people — for the right results.
  3. Have anyone who is helping you with  any communication learn about the persona before they start. When they begin to create, they will have a clear individual in their mind who they can speak to.
  4. No longer waste money placing a billboard when hardly any of your target market looks up from their cellphone. Use your personas to tell you where and how your customers want to be communicated with.
  5. If you’re looking to change your product or add a service, look at your personas and let them guide your business decisions.

Want a persona for your customer/s? Of course you should! Give me a call and I can help get you started — and finished –  with insights on your customer that will drive your small business or nonprofit toward their needs and your goals.

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