By Andrew Ballard
A few years ago I wrote a column, “The Four Secrets to Marketing Success,” that generated far more responses than usual. That feedback inspired me to provide more detail on each of the topics. This is the first of a four-part series that breaks down the four fundamental truths of generating a greater return on marketing investment.
The four secrets to marketing success are as follows — and the sequence is important:
• Target the right market
• With the right message
• Through the right media
• At the right moment
I joke with colleagues and clients by saying, “You only need to do four things right to be wildly successful in marketing. Market, message, media and moment — what could be simpler?” Of course, doing all four things right is much easier said than done. Understanding these fundamentals is not difficult … therein lies the challenge of doing them right.
Targeting the Right Market
Secret number one: Target the right market. I believe it’s obvious to many who run a business that they need to target the right market if they want to sell their product or service. My observation is, however, that few have a structured way of doing so. The tool many marketing experts use, including yours truly, to more effectively hone in on the most lucrative niche is called a customer persona profile.
Narrow Your Focus to Get Bigger Results
Before explaining how to develop your customer persona profile, I’ll debunk the common misconception about targeting. The process of targeting a market is counterintuitive. You’d think that the larger the market you target, the more customers you attract. That approach actually results in the opposite effect. If you spread your marketing resources too thin, you won’t create the necessary impact to influence behavior.
Several studies cite “the rule of seven,” which says it takes an average of seven exposures to a marketing message before consumers recall the brand or respond to the offer. Based on your budget, you may want to target a smaller footprint or a single, more responsive niche segment.
Going through the process of developing your customer persona profile will help you determine where to aim your marketing resources — toward the most responsive and profitable segment of your overall market. Doing this right will lower your cost of acquisition, which, in turn, will increase your margin.
An Ideal Client
A customer persona is a profile of your ideal customer. It identifies the person with the greatest need for your product or solution, one who will remain loyal and refer others to your business. The key elements of your customer persona are (but are not limited to) the following:
• Demographic Attributes (or corpographic, if you are a B2B company selling to businesses)
Include gender, age, relationship status, residence, income, education and occupation. Corpographics entail industry, size (revenue and employees), location and decision makers
• Pain Points
Your customers’ fears, frustrations, challenges – essentially the problems they want solved. Pain points establish their priorities
• Personality Characteristics
Define their nature and temperament, e.g. pragmatic verses spontaneous, people- or task-oriented, logical or emotional, charismatic or quiet
• Values and Goals
What is important to them, what they care about, what they aspire to accomplish and what motivates their behavior and choices
• Research Habits
The process they go through to find a solution to their problem, and how they research to find a provider to meet their wants and needs
If you do an online search for “customer persona” you’ll find free templates that can help guide you through the process of developing your profile. Assuming you are solving a real problem or filling an important need, the fact is, the more accurate your targeting, the more profitable your business.
Craft the Right Message
Customer persona profiles are not only used to target the right market, they are a great tool to refine and personalize your marketing with the right message. Be sure to check back for my second post, which will cover how to craft the right message.
About the Author
Andrew Ballard is the president of Marketing Solutions, a Seattle-area agency that develops research-based growth strategies. He has over three decades’ experience with specialties in marketing research, strategic planning, brand development and advertising, and has helped hundreds of organizations (from startups through Fortune 500 companies) achieve breakthrough growth.>
Andrew is a respected author, educator, keynote and TEDx speaker. His articles on marketing strategy have been published in business journals through all 50 states. His book, “Your Opinion Doesn’t Matter,” has been endorsed in both corporate and academic circles as innovative and insightful. Andrew is also a part-time faculty member at the University of Washington.
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