By Martin Steinhobel
Having taken the time to review the factors that impact your brand, it is now important that you take the time to develop a clear picture of who exactly your would-be customers are (your target market). These will be your most important audience but will not be your only one.
In the consulting business another important audience is often your employees and would-be employees. However, we will stick with would-be customers for the sake of illustration here.
Analyze Your Customer Data
Review sales data by customer and by service over the last three years or so. Typically, a few customers are responsible for the bulk of your revenue. (According to the 80:20 rule, about 20% will be responsible for 80% of your business.)
Now ask yourself some questions:
Why are these high revenue customers high revenue?
Who are they?
Which services are they buying?
Why are they buying these services?
What attracted them to you?
How did you come to get their business?
If this is a big group, you may need to pick a sampling for analysis. This will give you some idea of what brought these customers to you. Now set aside your thoughts and survey a sample of these customers to find out what they think.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
– Seth Godin
Okay – so how to do this? For technology services companies I suggest doing interviews as opposed to using online survey options, since the former offers you more insight into what your customers are thinking. You should aim to survey a minimum of between six to twelve customers. Of course, the number you should interview will depend on the total number of customers you actually have.
The survey should be informal but structured and aimed at getting insights into reasons behind your customers’ thought processes related to the problem you address for them, and how they went about discovering and evaluating options before finally deciding on your services. If possible, you should have a third party conduct the surveys. This will remove any personal bias you might have. You should provide a list of your best customers – the ones you would like to have more of! The interviewer should take the time to review each customer’s website and each interviewee’s LinkedIn profile if possible.
This should allow them to get to a deeper level when doing the actual interviews. The interviewer should compile a table of answers to each discussion topic to include quotes of key phrases used by interviewees.
Analyze the survey data, being careful to pull out consistent themes.
Developing Customer Personas
Based on your review of customer data and the results from your customer surveys, you should now have a very good idea of who your ideal customer is. To personalize this information, create an ideal customer persona (you might need more than one, if you are providing services to rather different market segments – think government vs commercial, for example.)
Describe this person – think career stage, typical role within the organization, and these questions:
What is important to them?
What problems do they find most pressing?
How is what you offer relevant to them?
What are their goals?
Why is this audience important to your company?
What are the top questions this person might ask?
What impact does your solution have for this persona?
If you were them, what kind of service experience would be ideal?
This will help you craft a better message that can now be focused on your most important audience.
This analysis will be invaluable in providing a deeper insight into who your important customers are and how they think about the problems you solve, and what would serve them best. Don’t skip this step!
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Check out our Complete Brand Guide!
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