Who are you selling to?

Written on 08 September, 2009 by Jonathan Crossfield
Categories E-commerceMarketing

Understanding who your customers are and how they behave is crucial when designing your online strategy. Last week, Steven Noble (@steven_noble) of Forrester and David Meerman Scott (best selling author and marketing strategist) appeared at the Sydney Social Media Club to discuss buyer personas. Scott (@dmscott and WebInkNow) is passionate about buyer personas. In his latest book, World Wide Rave, (Amazon) he defines them thus:

Buyer personas are one of the most fundamental aspects of great marketing. A buyer persona represents a distinct group of potential customers, or an archetypal person whom you want your marketing to reach.

Central to the discussion on the night was evaluating who buys your product, what triggers them to do so and how they use the internet. These three factors can inform every facet of your business - from the messages of your website to the tools you use to reach them to engage. With over 70% of Australians accessing social networking sites in June 2009 (Comscore report - Marketing Charts August 2009), the way people are using and sharing online data is paramount if you want your customers to react the way you hope they will. Forrester's research has identified six categories of user behaviour. by correlating this with your own reserch of your demographics, you can help establish which are the best ways to reach and engage. the following short presentation explains the six definitions.

But Forrester goes one further and provides a useful profiling tool. You can see the results of their comprehensive data, drilled down to age, country and gender. It is worth noting that all categories, except 'inactives', can overlap. A person can be both a Creator and a Joiner, for example. If you identify that your buyer personas include a lot of Creators, you may wish to develop a campaign that encourages bloggers and others to write about your products. If you discover your buyer personas are active critics, you may need to adopt a communications strategy that responds promptly to negative comments in the arena where they are published while encouraging and fanning the flames of positive word of mouth. So if you now know how your potential customers use the internet and share information, what problems are they hoping to solve? And who is doing the buying anyway? What motivates a purchase? Failing to understand who is making the purchasing decision and the circumstances that lead to a need for a florist, a hotel room or a camera means you can broadcast the entirely wrong message. As Scott illustrated in his presentation - who buys tricycles? The two year old toddler doesn't. Invariably, they are purchased by mature adults, maybe grandparents. What triggers them to search for tricycles and what criteria do they assess the various models on sale? These answers begin to form the basis of your buyer personas. Scott again:

By truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, egocentric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organisation.