I’m tempted to say knowing your prospect is the most important part of your marketing, and running your business overall, but I believe this should come after setting your goals. Goals are vital to the success or otherwise of any venture, and therefore must first be set.
But today isn’t about goals. It’s about knowing and understanding your prospect.
This is foundational in business and marketing. It is knowing who you’d target with your ads; who you’d optimize your web content for; who you’d cold-pitch or cold-call. It is being able to rightly call out your audience in your sales copy. It is identifying that person that has the power to keep (or not keep) you in business.
Who is a prospect?
A prospect is simply a person that is very likely to become a customer or client. In other words, your potential client/customer.
Knowing them (who they are) will help you find them, and will also let you know what to tell them when you do find them – based on what they want and other things you know about them.
How to find them, what to offer them, and what to tell them are all entirely different ballgames, and also not the goal for today.
Now…how do you get to know your prospect?
Here’s the tricky part… you may not have the slightest idea who they are… But you have no choice; you must get to know them!
So let’s call our prospect Mr. Mystery for now.
Unfortunately, you might never get to meet this person physically and talk to him, and observe his emotions, so it’s time to wear your detective hat…
Basically, you’ll begin to gather data about your prospect; demographic and psychographic data.
Demographic data are the basic characteristics of your prospect, such as gender, age, location, income, etc. Psychographic data are deeper and mostly psychological attributes of your prospects, like their interests, hobbies, fears, desires, likes & dislikes, beliefs, pain points or problems, attitudes, moods, etc.
First you start with getting your prospect’s demographic data – as well as you can, then you move to psychographic data next — the deep stuff that allows you to get very close to him.
After gathering all these facts, we fit the puzzle pieces together to form a living representation of our prospect, Mr. Mystery!
Here’s a template that works for identifying your prospect:
- Age: How old are they?
- Sex: Male or female?
- Income level: How much do they earn?
- Location: Where do they live?
- Marital/family status: Single? Married? With kids? How many?
- Employment status: What do they do for a living, and where do they do it?
- Education: Where did they go to school, and what did they study?
- Interests: What do they like to think, read, and talk about?
- Fears: What are their concerns? What keeps them up at night?
- Values: What do they care about? Vote for? When they think of a better world, what does it look like?
- Dreams: What do they want?
- Goals: In the shortest possible time, what do they hope to accomplish?
- Aspirations: Who do they hope to be?
These questions will help you create your customer avatar (or buyer persona) – the person you’ll aim your marketing at.
Fill the template out to your best ability, find a person around you that fits this description, and then give Mr. Mystery his/her name.
You can also randomly search online for people that fit within some of this description, and use their name. Your marketing becomes more effective when you name your prospect.
For example, here at RenegadeCommerce, I use the names of some of my real students – my favourite ones. One is “Businessman Wale”, and the other is “Network Marketer Zele”. Yes, you can give titles 🙂
For a start, you can just make general assumptions in filling these templates. And with time, as you get to know your prospects more, you can adjust the data with real facts.
How to Get Real Data to Fill Out Your Customer Avatar
There are several ways you can get real data about your prospects to replace your earlier assumptions.
- What you know
This is easy when you’re already running your business. Who are the people patronizing you? Are they more men than women? How old are they generally? What do they complain about?
Get all these facts, and use them to fill out your customer avatar template.
To get even more facts, hang out where your prospects hang out and interact with them. It’s simple. Read the blogs they read, read the books they read, go to the forums they hang out on, etc.
- Ask your current customers
Take it up a notch further, and walk up to your current customers and ask them these questions to know more about them. Use the most recurring answers to draw up your customer avatar.
In case you were wondering, that’s how I came up with “Wale” and “Zele”. I sent a sort of questionnaire/survey to some select contacts – friends and customers. I collated the answers and formed my customer avatar with those data. I came up with 2 avatars (based on markets/niches), and simply named them some of my favourite students – those who actually bought from me at least once. Plus, I wanted tribal differences, since my audience cut across all tribes.
- Product cues
As a professional copywriter, one way I get to unmask prospects is to study my client’s products to get subtle hints.
For example, when a product is for weight loss, we automatically know the prospect is overweight (or has the fear of becoming so) and wants to lose weight. The prospect is probably also concerned about his general health.
When a drug talks about prostrate, we know our major target is a man. And the problem has to do with his sexual health.
These are just subtle pointers you can get if you already have a product or service you offer. Just think of the main components of your product/service, and think of who they’d be most useful to. That’s your avatar, and in essence, your prospect.
Where you don’t have customers yet, you can walk up to anyone that fits the description of that prospect you created from your head – with some assumptions – and interview such person. You’ll most likely find important data if your guesses were a bit right.
For example, if you want to sell to the elderly people, find some elderly person around you and talk to them to get facts of what interests them, their fears and desires, etc.
Very simple, yea?
If you don’t have customers or even a product yet, you probably know your competitors. You can study your competitors and find out who their customers are. Use their customers’ facts and data to create your own customer avatar.
You can also walk up to someone that has bought or used your competitor’s product or service, or any product similar or related to yours, and interview them to know who they are and what solutions they truly desire.
It’s all about leveraging on your competitors’ success!
If your competitors are online (who isn’t?!), study their websites. Study the copy/content, and try to decipher who their prospects are by taking note of subtle pointers from the words they use.
A competitor copy that starts like: “What do you do when you get home late from work very tired and still have to feed your husband and children” shows that the target prospect is a career woman who has her own family — husband and children.
She’s probably well-educated and in the mid-class…
She doesn’t really have time for her family due to her time-demanding job…etc!
Finally, you can buy your competitor’s product and watch them every step of the way in how they deal with you – how they move you from prospect to customer. What are the words they use? What’s on their product description or label?
You see you really need to be a detective in this aspect.
Finding and identifying your prospects is something you do continuously in the course of running your business.
If you’re fresh in business, you make expert assumptions and educated guesses. As you move further in business, you begin to finetune your customer data and it keeps getting better with time – till when you indeed know your prospects to the core.
Start now by filling out the template given earlier, and plan to do more research to make your data accurate with time.
What other ways do you use in knowing your prospect? Share with us in the comments; me and other readers would love to learn more.