Small business staple service MailChimp, a newsletter-sending service, has published a blog detailing their quest to personalise their users so they can serve (and market to) them better.
In the post, they detail their five-step approach to developing their “user persona research”, and some of the outcomes.
This included first asking their stakeholders about who they thought MailChimp’s customers were, and modelling their ideal customer based on the three words they kept hearing: Smart, self-reliant and techie.
They then grouped their customers into industries, contacted people from the main industries and interviewed them, analysed their findings and presented it back to the MailChimp team, creating posters of their key client types.
Small business consultant and mentor Nikki White says this process can be useful for all business owners.
“You can’t do any successful marketing if you don’t know who you’re talking to and how they talk,” White says.
White advises business owners to start off by imagining their target client and jotting down what they do, what they read, what they eat and drink, what social media platforms they use, who they’re following on Twitter, and what kind of industries they would work in.
She says the make-or-break marketing questions come next.
“Ask yourself, what does that person feel before they come to me? You need to know what their pain is and identify with that. Dig down on that quite deeply so you can get to the bottom of it,” White says. “Then you ask yourself how you want these customers to feel after they’ve bought your product or service?”
White says this final feeling is what you sell your product with, but you need to know the customer’s pain too.
“In your marketing, you dip them into the pain and show them how they’ll feel once they’re your customer. The impact you’ll have is the thing you need to communicate in your marketing,” White says.
Similar to the MailChimp strategy, White says business owners need to go beyond just their understanding and ask clients what they want and think about a product or service.
“If you have clients already, good trusted ones, ask them for feedback on what do you do well, what do you like about the service,” White says.
“You can do this through SurveyMonkey (a free online survey software) or do it over coffee. But when you give people the chance to do it anonymously, you’ll probably find they give you more honest feedback.”
White says creating customer avatars or posters with keywords around them like MailChimp did is a great way to stay focused. She adds business owners should remember their clients, but also tap into their own feelings.
“Small business owners usually have products they know the pain for because we’ve been through it and we’re excited about our business because it fixes it. You’ve been your client,” White says.
“We can be so desperate to get new clients, we forget to listen to our clients. But if we worked out what they really want, and we can meet that, they’d be all over us because we get it.”