Who are your customers? No, really. Take a minute and clearly picture your customers. If you have folks beating down your door, this should be easy. If you’re just starting out, it should be just as easy – if you’re targeting right.
I love running this exercise with folks who ask about how to market their home-based business. They talk about their marketing challenges, so I ask “who are your customers?” Usually those that are struggling get a kind of glazed over, been watching too much reality-TV look. As they scramble to come up with a good answer, I can almost always guess their response. It usually starts with “Well, everyone with…,” which is why they’re struggling. Everyone with a pulse (or without a pulse depending on your industry) is NOT a good answer, and will make the marketing process much more difficult.
For a home-based business, one of the most important exercises you can do is to clearly define who your customers are. Even if you have a huge niche, the better you are at identifying your target market, the better chances you have of getting customers.
For a lot of home-based business owners just starting out, it can be difficult to get a clear idea of who it is you’re looking to help. Who needs you? Who needs what you’re offering? Who can you provide the most value to?
One of the most helpful tools I’ve found is something I call personafiling. It involves creating detailed personas of who you think:
- Would gain the most from what you’re offering.
- Has a specific need for your products or services.
- Possesses the attributes of your ideal customer.
- Can afford you (something a lot of folks tend to miss).
Now, marketers have been doing this in some fashion (like marketing segmentation) for a while. It’s also been done for years in the usability and design fields. The idea here is to create a persona and then flesh out a profile of the persona, to act as a template for your target customer. The difference from more traditional profiling is it:
- Forces you to really think about who your potential customer is.
- It puts an “individual” face on the amorphous “customer.”
- It allows you to identify with your intended audience.
- It’s a heck of a lot more fun than filling out some market profile form.
There are several ways to create your personas. The simplest and most direct is to sit down with a pad of paper and just begin brainstorming or mind-mapping your personas. Think about the different aspects of your customers’ lives. Where do they work, shop, eat, live? Who do they interact with, play with, go out with? Are they married, have kids, pets, livestock? The more detailed you can get the better.
If you want more options, you might try creating personas as you would characters in a story or play. Those working in creative businesses have enjoyed using tools like Character Pro to really round out their personas. That’s probably more than most will need, but it does make things interesting.
No matter how you do it, the idea is to develop several detailed personas of who you will be working for. Those people who need what you have, and are willing to pay you for it, because it’s valuable to them, and you do it well.
Using Your Personafiles as a Gauge
When I began this site, I spent some time creating personas for who I thought my readers would be. They included dads and moms who wanted to work from home, and those who were doing it, but were looking for some help and advice. As I began to get email and feedback from readers, I took the stories people were sending, and compared them to the personas I had created prior to launch. What was interesting was how close some of the real-world stories matched those of the personas I had created. By using them as a gauge, I was able to determine how well I was servicing my intended audience.
The key to successfully marketing a home-based business is knowing who you’re marketing to. A shotgun, all or nothing approach can be very hard to make work. By clearly understanding who it is that would best benefit from what you have to offer, you can pinpoint the best way to get your message out. Helping you to find your ideal customers, who may be out there looking for you.
Great article, thank you
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