When I start working with a client, one of the first questions I ask is "who is your ideal customer?" How specific the answer is varies a lot, but from a short conversation I can usually assess whether they understand their customers well enough.
What do I mean by "well enough"? Well, if you don't understand your customers very well then it's unlikely that your marketing will resonate with them. You'll probably end up taking a "scatter-gun" approach to marketing and wasting a lot of time and money in the process. My blog "Do I need a customer avatar?" explains more.
So how do you know whether you understand your customers enough to effectively market to them? Here are the signs I look out for...
1. Your marketing activities aren't delivering ROI
If your social media activities are not generating very good results, for example, or your Adwords are expensive per lead, or your events are not delivering the results you want, it might well be that you need to revisit who you are aiming to attract to your business.
2. You struggle to decide which marketing channels and activities to use
Is your marketing to do list so long that it is never going to be achievable? Do you find it difficult to decide which social media to be on or which publication to advertise or work to get PR into? If you truly understand your audience then these questions become much easier to answer.
3. You don't know what you say about your product and how to say it
The strongest marketing messages come from a deep understanding of the challenges your customers face and the attitudes they have to the solutions available. Without that understanding, you will struggle to craft marketing messages that resonate and compel your customers to take action. You'll also find it difficult to decide what to post on social media and what to write about in your blogs because you won't know what is interesting and relevant for your audience.
4. Your copy sounds like it's been written by different people
Consistency across your marketing is fundamental to successfully supporting customers through their buying decision. If your tone of voice is inconsistent it breaks trust between you and your customer: they don’t know what to expect. To decide on an effective tone of voice, you need to understand your customers well enough to know what they will engage with best.
5.You don't know who else is involved in their buying decision
Is there a person who could veto the decision? If there is, what are their objections likely to be? Why might they veto the decision? If you don't know, then you can't support your customer to sell internally to them.
6. You don't know how long your content should be
If you don’t' know how much time your customer spends on their buying process, and the amount of time they are prepared to invest in the decision, then you won't know how long your blogs, case studies, brochures etc need to be to support them in their decision.
7. You don't know how often you need to conduct each of your marketing activities
Similar to the point above, if you don’t understand your customer's buying process well enough then you won't know how often you need to "show up" to be recognised and picked up at the right time.
8. You don't know how to brief your suppliers
If you don't have a consistent tone of voice, you won't be able to brief a copywriter to write for you. Likewise, if you don't know what to write about, and where to put it out there, you can't brief an agency very easily. You won't be able to create meaningful objectives and strategies for your marketing and so your marketing suppliers won’t be able to deliver the results you want – however good they are in their field of expertise!
9. A lot of your customers are not very profitable
A deep understanding of your customers leads to specific, focussed marketing that will attract exactly the kind of work that you want. If you're not getting the right kind of work then it might be that the root cause is poor audience definition.
10. You're getting a lot of enquiries from people who aren't a great match for your business
I often see this when I go networking and ask how I can recognise a good referral for someone. If you don't know exactly what makes a good customer for you then you will end up getting mentally filed incorrectly and people will refer you to customers who aren't a good match for you. Likewise if your marketing activities and messages are vague, people will make their own assumptions about who you want to work with and will often assume incorrectly.
11. You don't feel confident that your products are right for your market
This is a real gut-wrenching one, especially because if you're not confident in your product then that will come across in your marketing. If you know exactly who your audience is then you will know how to make sure that your products and services deliver real value to them. The confidence this provides often attracts the very people you are looking for.
Do any of these signs sound familiar? Could you improve your marketing by simply refining your audience profile a bit more?
If so, download my free audience profile checklist here. And if you'd like help to create a really effective customer persona, drop me a line by email, phone or via social media.
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