EP16 – How to Sell Without Being Fake – Part 4 – Create Customer Personas

This is the fourth episode in our series about Selling Without Being Fake. In this episode, we talk about how to create Customer Personas and why you should never build marketing or sales campaigns without them.

Podcast Transcript:

Joshua MacLeod:
The customer doesn’t really care about you in terms of whether or not they’re going to buy your product or service. What the customer cares about always is, will this person help me solve my problem? Once I figure out the problem that the customer faces, then I want to ask the question, okay, what specifically does my target customer look like in this scenario?

Podcast Announcer:
Welcome to The Growability Podcast, teaching business and nonprofit leaders a more excellent way to run a business. Visit growability.com for your leadership, coaching, consultation, and business collaboration needs. This is the fourth episode in our series about selling without being fake. In this episode, we talk about how to create customer personas and why you should never build marketing or sales campaigns without them. Here are your hosts, Joshua MacLeod and Bernie Anderson.

Bernie Anderson:
We’re talking about how to sell without being fake. How do we know that we understand our customer?

Joshua MacLeod:
The whole point of business is to solve a problem. If you build a house, you’re solving the problem of no shelter. If you have a better looking car, you’re solving the problem of, how do I show off to the neighbors? The way that you know that you have really understood your customer is the point at which you can make a customer persona. A customer persona is like a name, typically we try to make it as catchy as we can, that really encapsulates what the customer values and who that target customer is.

Joshua MacLeod:
For example, I might have a customer persona with a name like Techno Tammy. Tammy is the one that’s going to buy the iPhone that day it comes out, or I might have customer persona of Healthy Harrison. Loves to work out, eat right, and run six miles a day. This is Healthy Harrison. At the point at which you can encapsulate your target customer with kind of like a customer brand or a customer persona, that’s the point at which I think you really understand your customer.

Joshua MacLeod:
If the answer to the question, “who’s your customer”?, Well, everyone’s my target customer, then it shows you haven’t really researched your customer.

Bernie Anderson:
I have a couple of clients that I work with where all of their businesses online. That is the tendency with a lot of people whose business is online is, “the world,” “the whole world is my customer.” Everybody is my customer. I think that you bring up a really good point and making sure that people understand they need a persona of who they’re targeting, even if their businesses online. The potential is the world. Sure. Let’s talk a little bit about how to do this.

Joshua MacLeod:
If you want to make a customer persona, the first question you ask is, okay, what is the specific problem of this customer type? Cost, speed, reliability, aesthetic. If a customer is purchasing a car, the first question is, okay, what is the specific problem that this customer is addressing when they purchase this car? For somebody that might be, “I need the cheapest transportation to get from A to B that I can get.” For a different person that might be, “I need to be able to represent the business that I run by the quality of my vehicle.”

Bernie Anderson:
My son just bought a car recently, and he’s a real estate agent. He needs a car where he can put signs in the back. He needs a car that’s going to have some image. He couldn’t just get like a beater. You don’t want your real estate agent showing up with this like crappy old rundown car.

Joshua MacLeod:
I think this is great. We can come up with kind of three different customer personas if you’re the car dealer. Let’s say you’re selling the car. One would be Realtor Roni. Realtor Roni is buying this car for a utility purpose. He’s not just thinking about the cheapest car on the lot. He’s thinking about which car on the lot is actually going to be the most useful for the utility of serving his clients. So then you have Best Price Bernie.

Joshua MacLeod:
Best Price Bernie is showing up and saying, “Look, I want the car with the best price. I don’t need bells and whistles.” Maybe even Bargain Basement Bernie.

Bernie Anderson:
Wow!

Joshua MacLeod:
Best Price Bernie is a lot different than Bargain Basement Bernie. Bargain basement means, I don’t have options to go somewhere else. Best price means, I do have options to go somewhere else and you better get me a good deal or I’m not going to go get this thing. A good customer persona is going to point out those differences. As a business owner, before I spend any money on marketing and before I spend any money on sales, I really want to be sure that I know who exactly it is that I’m marketing to.

Joshua MacLeod:
The marketing messages that I’m going to have for my car dealership are going to be very different depending on the customer persona that I’m trying to reach. If I’m marketing to “Realtor Roni” or “Best Price Bernie” or “Showoff Sally,” the marketing tools that I’m going to use are going to be very different. As I’m trying to figure out my customer and I’m creating my customer persona, there’s really three primary questions to ask. Number one, what is the primary problem that this customer faces? What’s the problem? The second question is, what causes the problem?

Joshua MacLeod:
I’m looking at not just the problem itself, but the root causes. And I want to explain that to the customer and explain how our products not only solves the problem, but the root cause of the problem. And then third, what are the negative effects of that problem? Once I figure out the problem that the customer faces, then I want to ask the question, okay, what specifically does my target customer look like in this scenario? What is the demographic? What is the age, income, socioeconomic status? What do they generally look like?

Joshua MacLeod:
It might be a business owner with a six figure income. It might be a single mom with two kids. All the things that you teach your kids, like never judge somebody based on their age and their race and their socioeconomic impact and all of these things, it’s the opposite. In business, you’re trying to figure out exactly who it is that you can serve. It’s not judging them. It’s setting yourself up to serve them maximally. Would I call that person Techno Tammy. Would I call that person Showoff Sally.

Joshua MacLeod:
And that way I’ve got in my mind when I’m thinking about building my sales materials, when I’m thinking about my website, when I’m thinking about my sales funnel, when I’m thinking about anything that I build, I’m able to focus my thoughts and make sure that I’m not just creating the whim of the month concept for my sales. I’m creating the actual thought through customer demographic as I create all of my sales funnels and all of my sales processes. Business owners are way too quick to spend money on marketing. Way too quick.

Joshua MacLeod:
Because a business owner will give money to a website designer, photographer, or a Google AdWords or a print designer or a mail agency or a phone agency or anything like that, they give money to those people without having even designed a customer persona. You have a conversation that’s like 10 minutes with the website designer like, “I want our website to do this. I want our website to do this. I want our website to do this.” The website designer is like either a graphics designer or a programmer, neither of which has any concept of who your target customer is.

Joshua MacLeod:
I’m spending thousands of dollars to create something without having clearly defined who my target customer actually is. When we work with clients, we’re like, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Don’t spend money on marketing before you’ve really defined exactly who your target customer is.” When you build your website, you’re not building your website based on what you think you should put on your website. You build your website based on what is your client asking for and what problem do they have and how can you solve that problem?

Joshua MacLeod:
Never spend money on marketing until you have a clearly defined customer persona. The only person who benefits is the web programmer or the designer or the advertiser that’s taking your money. Additionally, never work with any kind of marketing company that doesn’t ask very specifically right at the beginning, who exactly is your target customer? What does your target customer value? What is the pain that they face? How do you help them in their life circumstance? What makes you different than any other person?

Bernie Anderson:
Yes, it’s great. One thing just to add to that, I think, and you alluded to this, Joshua, in that talking about these things is a demographic, but I think that psychographic is also super important for so many people because their products depend on understanding what the mindset of their customer is as well. We often kind of forget that. We just go, “I’m going to meet this need. I’m going to do this thing.” But actually like meeting some of those things. We talked about Maslow’s hierarchy. Meeting some of those needs.

Bernie Anderson:
That I think is an important piece to this is understanding psychographics, as well as demographics and knowing what your target specifically is going to look like.

Joshua MacLeod:
One of the questions that we ask when we were consulting with clients and we’re helping to develop these customer personas and when we’re trying to kind of get inside of the mind of the client is, what makes this person buy now? What pushes them past, hey, that might be a good idea, to, hey, I need to actually do this? What is the life circumstance or situation that they’re facing that is helping them to actually make a decision? Creating a customer persona really answers the question who, who is my target customer? The next thing I want to think about is, when do they buy?

Joshua MacLeod:
Because just because I know who my customer is doesn’t mean that they’re buying today or next week or in a month, or maybe even in a year. Once I figure out the who, now I have to ask the question of when, what life circumstance or what life situation is going to actually push them towards making a purchase at any given time. And to do that, you move past the customer persona and move into a sales funnel.

Podcast Announcer:
Thank you for listening to The Growability Podcast. The mission of Growability is to equip leaders to flourish in their life and work by developing vision, rhythm, and community. To discover if there is a more excellent way to run your business, visit growability.com and speak with a certified Growability coach. Bernie and Joshua are also available for speaking engagements, workshops, and conferences. Subscribing to this podcast helps Growability equip leaders throughout the world. And we appreciate your support.