In television crime dramas, detectives draw painstaking detail from victim interviews, drawing one little piece of information after another until that “ah-ha” moment where the sketch artist puts them together and the guilty culprit is identified.
Usually, that’s followed by a gasp, and then the victim loudly proclaims, “That’s him!” as everyone stares at the resulting picture.
How long would it take you to put together an outline or profile of your very best customers? Would they be arrested in a matter of minutes, or go on escaping punishment for decades?
Make no mistake: Even though we are having a little bit of fun with the premise, the real question of how well you know your customers are very serious if you care about the future of your company and the success of your marketing plan. That’s because it’s becoming more and more important to be efficient with your search campaigns and content strategies, and that isn’t possible until you know your most likely buyers inside and out.
Here at Kayak, we go so far as to create entire personas for our ideal clients, giving them names and getting to know them as if they were neighbors. What’s more, we do the same for the businesses we work with – it might seem a little over the top, but it’s the only way to really get, and process, the information we need to attract the right kind of interest.
So, what sort of information would you find in these marketing personas? Here are just a few of the highlights:
Their job title and work history.
Even when you are selling to businesses, and not individuals, there is typically a single point of contact that you are looking for. In most industries, this is going to be someone with a fairly predictable function within the organization. For example, you might be looking for a CEO, HR manager, or accounting director. Often, once you know what kind of person you’re looking for, you can also make some assumptions about their background, experience level, and so on.
Any relevant demographic information.
Along the same lines, it isn’t unusual to find that the men and women who make buying decisions in certain types of companies or industries have a lot in common. Do most of your best contacts have a common age range, share a typical educational background, or come from one part of the country or the world? These kinds of small details can help you shape your message in important ways, but only if you know what to look for.
Personal and organizational goals/motivators.
This is an important point because people are always looking out for the interests of the companies they work for, or even for their own best interests. Although it’s almost cliché to say that people have lots of different personal motives and tastes, the fact of the matter is that you often need to look beneath the surface to find someone’s real reasons for taking one action or another. Don’t discount things like career growth opportunities, a desire to be complimented, or even the fear of losing a job.
If you stop by the Kayak offices, you might see pictures, folders, or even cardboard cutouts of people meant to represent our best customers or the kinds of people that our clients want to attract to their businesses. While it might seem a bit odd at first, it’s an effective way of reminding us who we really need to reach and keeping us from taking our messaging off track.
Whether or not you use the same kinds of visual tools and reminders is up to you. But, just remember this: If you couldn’t really describe your best potential customer to someone else in a fair amount of detail, you can be sure that a lot of your future sales opportunities are going to go uncaptured. Do you want that to happen just because you have an incomplete sketch to work with?