High-earning products and services have something in common: they communicate a clear understanding of what problems they solve, for whom, and how their solutions are unique in the market.
A strong brand, then, has a solid understanding of its product marketing, which includes:
- Standardized product/service descriptions
- Identified buyer personas for each product or service
- Key differentiators, features, and benefits for each product or service
It’s key to reevaluate this pillar in the Marketing Lifecycle Model often as your offerings, buyer behavior, and market dynamics evolve. Remember, it’s not just your products that change, but your buyer. The consumer-driven economy has forced businesses to focus even more on customer behavior to be effective:
- What are their goals and objectives?
- Where are they finding the most value?
- What are their concerns and objections?
The answers to these questions help a business identify how their products and services tap into those needs and solve for problems. This is all part of persona mapping, a significant step in building out your marketing efforts for your target audience.
Where to Start with Persona Mapping
Persona mapping starts with identifying who your ideal customer is. This will help you identify who your ideal customers are so you aren’t trying to market to “everyone”. Casting a wide net without knowing what already resonates with your audience won’t produce a ton of engagement—if any.
It’s a process that helps identify influencers, buyers, and decision-makers among your customers and target audience. To begin, use guiding questions to help characterize your customer segments and what makes them an ideal customer for your business:
- What are their characteristics?
- What are your customers doing that you want to appeal to? i.e., are they more active on certain social media channels, or certain devices (phones vs desktops)?
- What types of articles or social media posts are they engaging most on?)
Answering these questions will not only give you insight into your customers, but it will also help you focus on what content to generate and how to measure ROI.
Pro tip: Limiting the number of personas is important. A good place to start is by answering the following:
OK, I have my personas. What’s next?
Utilize the information you have about your prospect to create an ideal customer profile.
Here’s an example:
Salesforce, a sales CRM tool, sells their solution inside of companies’ sales organizations. Their ideal customer could be a sales director that controls the budget and spending of their department. Here’s how that ideal customer profile lines up against their target personas:
Ideal customer: Sales Director
- Influencer: Who has a direct line to the decision-maker(s) and buyer(s) and can advocate on your behalf?
- Sales leaders, sales representatives, sales operations team members that work with the sales team, marketing resources that will also be using the tool
- Buyer: Which department’s budget falls under your product or service? Who do you need to talk to there?
- Sales, most likely the sales director
- Technical resource: Will your product require any cloud or on-prem integrations? Find the person to partner within your customer’s organization.
- In Salesforce’s case, they may be replacing an existing system like Hubspot or SugarCRM, or even an on-premise solution like Microsoft Dynamics. Finding out who the technical resource is that will manage this transition is key.
- Decision maker: Whose stamp of approval do you need?
- Sales director
You can do this with your own customer profiles by taking a look at each customer deal: who was involved? Who did you talk to? How did the deal move through the pipeline?
Your ideal customer profiles and personas are aligned. Now it’s time to see where they plug into your buyer journey.
A great way to do this is by interviewing existing customers. See where these customers fall in your now-defined customer profile and prospect personas. This will help you see where those ideal customers fall in your buyer journey.
Take a look at the Salesforce example:
Does the technical resource come in at the beginning or at the end of the buyer journey? Most likely, this persona needs to be looped in at the beginning so Salesforce can work out any potential technical roadblocks. Imagine receiving buy-in from the buyer, decision-maker, and influencer, and at the very last stage, the technical resource came in and said, “No, this isn’t going to work for these reasons…”
Speaking with existing customers and learning how your business combatted those potential roadblocks early on in the sales process helps you and your sales team engage the right resources at the appropriate time in your buyer journey so you don’t run into deal-stoppers.
From the marketing team’s standpoint, identifying target personas and how they tie into the buyer journey helps create content and cadence for nurturing campaigns to drive buy-in. Sticking with the Salesforce example, their marketing team has built out several resources on the benefits of integrating with their system, as well as content that speaks to the ease of integration, the flexibility of the platform, and more. This way, any questions surround whether it will work are answered immediately so you can skip the diagnostics and get to landing new customers.
Interviewing these personas is part of journey mapping, which helps further identify the needs, actions, thoughts, and concerns of each persona.