Know customers’ “why” and the job to get done
You know what your customers like and what price they’ll pay, but how does your product, service, or store fit into their lives and buying decision-making? That’s what marketing personas are about.
Developing a customer persona explores not just what you sell but also customers’ emotional connections and the practicalities of buying from you. The persona process reveals what drives your customer’s motivations, gives a view of how you fit into your customer’s life and buying cycle, and exposes how you can do that better.
A noted exploration into what customers are really doing is McDonald’s curiosity about why they sold so many milk shakes before 8 a.m. during the week. Milk shakes aren’t a traditional breakfast food, but a lot were selling early in the morning.
After observing and interviewing actual customers, marketers realized it wasn’t about the milkshake at all. It was about the commute. Customers bought milk shakes because they last longer than coffee, fill in boredom gaps on long work commutes, and aren’t messy like egg sandwiches. They also quell hunger until lunch, allowing customers to hit the ground running when they get to work.
Late Harvard Business School Professor Clay Christenson in 2011 analyzed McDonald’s marketing discovery from his lens that consumers buy products and services to “get a job done.” Getting the job done was how Christensen understood how business strategy and product development must align with what the customer is trying to accomplish — not what you think they want to buy.
At the time, McDonald’s adapted sales-counter operations in key restaurants so buying a shake was quick and easy, recognizing shake buyers needed speed and efficiency more than taste or price. The marketing response included in-store signage and quick-buy options to help customers get their job done of buying a fast and functional drink for the commute. That made the local McDonald’s the favorite morning stop and boosted sales.
The lesson is that marketers can’t risk thinking what is important to them is also important to their customers.
Persona experts have outlined steps to identify key touch points to build better business strategies that increase revenue. Because you become so connected to real or potential customers, these steps make you think outside a traditional promotions mindset to understand the world your customer lives in. How you communicate with a customer who has young children in the house is totally different than how you talk with people living in college dorms or senior communities. But how do you get to this deeper understanding of what’s affecting your customer’s buying decision?
The Buyer Persona Institute developed a strategic approach to buyer personas. It involves five interconnected rings of insight that define what to include in your persona: your customer’s priority life or work initiatives, success factors, perceived barriers, the buying journey, and decision criteria. Knowing what is critically important to customers, how they define success, how they find you, and what they consider when they decide to buy gives you insider information to communicate more relevantly. You understand their life situations and life stages, why they are looking for a product or service, and why they might include you in a buying decision.
That relevancy is what content marketing is all about.
A skillfully applied buyer persona helps you stand above brash annoying pitches about best this and lowest that. Content marketing reframes the conversation so it’s not about you but what the customer wants as you help her get it. Because you know your customer’s multiple dimensions, you speak with authority, clarity, and precision directly to her personal or professional needs with information that resonates authentically with the job she’s trying to get done.
For B2C and B2B Business Categories
Independent retailers are known for their passion about what they are retailing. The likely reason they start a retail business is because they love what they are selling and want to be engaged with it full time. However, good retailers take that passion a step further. By understanding the challenges, conflicts, and contradictions that keep enthusiasts from enjoying their passion, retailers can solve customer problems proactively and build positive interactive relationships.
Business-to-business content marketing is the same process, but dynamics change. Personal and family needs transform to business needs and pressures to accomplish business goals. Of course, many personal aspects are involved in a B2B customer’s life and job, but additional issues of professional status, completing business goals and processes, and other dimensions define how they get their jobs done. The corporate environment, job responsibilities, company buying processes, timing, internal project reviews, pricing pressures, and more define their priorities, success factors, perceived barriers, the buyer journey, and decision criteria. Knowing what these dimensions are and how your customer works through them provides insight to come alongside and partner with customers, not just sell them something.
Mutual understanding builds relationships, and relationship is why customers buy from you.
Content marketing is effective to build relationships based on solid information, earned trust, and positive engagement. A content strategy positions content where people are on their journey to purchase. By providing a range of information to meet customers’ needs, you connect with them from discovery to final and repeat purchasing based on trust and information