Building a successful customer relationship first requires an understanding of your customers–knowing who they are, what they need, and where they are in the buying process. When you know these things, you know what content to provide to which customer based on their personal needs and their stage in the buyer’s journey.
Understanding your audience and their relationship with your brand can be broken down into three stages. First, you must recognize your ideal audience. Next, gain an understanding of the problem, need, or want that brought the client to your company. Third, gauge the trajectory within the buyer’s journey.
Your Ideal Audience: The Audience Persona
An audience persona is a snapshot of your ideal customer. Imagine the exact person you want to walk into your business–the person your product or service was made for. Pin them down: give them a name, an age, a job, and hobbies. Figure out who this person is, and you’ll have a better understanding of how they want to be spoken to.
The great thing about personas is that a business doesn’t need only one; customers and businesses are rarely monolithic. Everything is multifaceted, and a diverse customer base is a must for any business wanting to survive. Starting different conversations with different personas helps you engage more demographics on their terms.
What Brought Your Audience Persona to Your Business? Provide a Solution.
Now that you know who your audience is, you need to figure out why they should do business with you. Think about what need or desire your business fulfills. What can you bring to the conversation that they haven’t heard before? Figuring out what your customers are looking for, and if you can help them in that search, is key.
If you reach this stage and realize that you can’t help them (either because they’re searching for something else or because your business just isn’t a great fit), it’s time to stop. This isn’t your customer. Go back to your persona and re-evaluate your demographics. No one wants to start a conversation on kittens and have that conversation hijacked by politics. Don’t try to start a conversation with someone who isn’t receptive–you’ll only waste your time and theirs. It’s better for you and your audience if your conversation is mutually beneficial.
Where is Your Customer and Where Are They Going: The Buyer’s Journey
Now that you know what your customers need and that you are the right person to help them, you can begin developing a diverse marketing strategy to target these customers, according to their stage of the buyer’s journey.
What is the Buyer’s Journey?
The buyer’s journey describes the three stages of audience engagement. The stages are:
Every customer-business relationship begins with customer awareness. Whenever someone encounters your advertisements, content, or website out in the wild, awareness is established or reinforced. Awareness is your foot in the door–the next step is convincing the customer to let you in.
Consideration is the stage where the customer decides to look into your service or product more thoroughly. You’ve caught their attention and now they want to see what, if anything, you can contribute to their lives. And, make no mistake, you have to contribute to their life. We have too little money and too many products in our lives already. We don’t want to add to the pile unless we think this particular purchase will make our lives better in some way.
Consideration in the selling stage looks like telling your audience about yourself, talking about your product, giving advice and information, and giving it liberally. Lavish your potential customers with every assistance and consideration that you can and invite them into your story.
When you show all of your cards and hold nothing back, you present an honest and transparent version of yourself; the true version of the business you are or that you strive to be. And (let’s be honest), if you can’t be completely transparent about your business practices, you may want to reconsider your business.
Younger generations are none too keen to participate in unethical commerce. They prefer idealistic companies with integrity. You probably prefer the same. So be that company. Let your customers know that’s the kind of business that you run. Be open, be honest, be helpful.
The decision step is deceptively simple in appearance. You guide your customers through the purchasing process. You add a call-to-action or an easy checkout to your site and ta-dah! You make a sale!
Finally! After all that hard work comes…more work. “But it’s the final stage!” you cry. “It should be smooth waters from here on out!”
You made a sale, congratulations! If your customer is pleased, they may become a repeat customer. Or they may not. It’s hard to say. People can be flighty sometimes, BUT you can take steps towards solidifying a customer’s loyalty.
Thank you cards, reminder emails, incentives to invite friends and family, coupons, discount codes, or inside scoops on new products or services are excellent examples of ways to bring a customer back.
It’s important to remember that just because you can remind a customer to come back doesn’t mean you should abuse that power. Flooding someone’s inbox with coupons won’t make them more likely to come back. A well-timed thank you or reminder email can be welcome to a customer who enjoyed interacting with your company. This welcome can turn sour if your emails start looking and arriving like spam.
Timing and moderation is everything in this stage. Where you gave lavishly in the Considerations stage, now is the time to pull back. You’ve wooed and won; the honeymoon has ended. You need to give the other person enough space to breathe, but not so much that they begin to wander. And, most importantly, make sure they know you care.