5 Steps to Get inside Your Ideal Customer’s Head

January 31, 2017

5 Steps to Get inside Your Ideal Customer’s Head

In every movie or TV show about telepathy, there’s a scene where the main character collapses in a heap, unable to shut out a barrage of inner monologues. Imagine the torment of being able to hear people’s thoughts, the director seems to say. Helpless against a litany of other people’s wants and needs! How horrible!

Scenes like that don’t faze marketers, though. We spend most of our time deliberately trying to get in touch with people’s thoughts. Through interviews, through algorithms, even (too frequently) through imagination, we try to understand the people we want to reach. The ability to literally read minds would be a competitive advantage.

You might not be able to tune directly into your audience’s brains. But with the right kind of directed research, you can get the next-best thing. Follow these five steps to get started.

1. Research Your “Ideal Account”

To try and understand their customers, some marketers start at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. But sometimes it’s better to start at the end and work backward. Imagine your company just made a sale that would make your sales department and C-suite the most happy. Picture the kind of account everyone at your company dreams about landing, and imagine they just signed the contract.

What attributes of that account made it so desirable to your company? What specifically about your company led to winning the deal? Look to existing and potential customers to round out your thinking—don’t rely on intuition. Be as specific as possible—the goal is to create a company-sized buyer persona.

2. Map the Buying Committee

Once you have created your “company persona,” you can zero in on the people who will contribute to a purchase decision. Make a list of the roles that will influence the process. It’s important to include both the people who sign checks and those who will use your product in their daily working life.

Strive for a complete list of potential decision-makers and influencers. As you start to flesh out individual personas, you’ll want to have all the bases covered.

Remember the bottom-line criteria for a persona: It’s someone who needs their own unique messaging. If you have personas that don’t require distinct marketing material, you can trim or consolidate them.

3. Get the Info First-Hand

Once you identified the personas you need to create, you’re ready to start gathering information. It’s best to use first-hand sources if you can. Start by interviewing existing and potential customers, and even pull in some lost opportunities if you can. It’s good to hear from those who already bought, those who might buy, and those who went with another solution.

You can round out your first-hand information with insight from your sales team and customer service department. Since they interact with customers every day, they should have valuable information for you. Here’s an interview guide from Your Hands-On Content Marketing Workbook:

4. Listen before You Speak

In addition to conducting interviews, gather intelligence by frequenting the social media sites your customers use. See what content gets shared most on LinkedIn, what potential customers are publishing to the platform, and what industry news is being circulated. Monitor your brand and competitors’ brands for mentions, too.

This information-gathering should result in a robust set of personas based on facts, rather than opinion. You won’t just imagine you’re reading your audience’s minds—you’ll have the data to back it up.

5. Share the Wealth (of Information)

What to do with these amazing, insightful personas? Make sure everyone in your department and beyond has access to them and knows them inside and out. And don’t keep it to just your team—make sure sales and customer service are on the same page.

You don’t have to be a mind-reader to know what your potential customers are thinking. It takes planning, research, and more research, but you can find out what’s top-of-mind and even delve into the layers underneath. Impress your audience with your seemingly clairvoyant powers of empathy, and you can inspire them to take action.

For more awesomely interactive content marketing resources, download Your Hands-On Content Marketing Workbook.

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