Let me ask you a simple question: grouping customers, do you do that or you just open shop, use your marketing megaphone to reach Mark, Joan and Hurry in hopes that they buy? You are doing it all wrong. Let me tell you about this target marketing thing called creating your customers groups or buyer personas that will save you huge amounts of wasted marketing resources. Let’s dig right in.
An effective way to target different customers is by identifying their needs. I want you to do something as we start this post. I want you to take 30 seconds and draw a picture of you on a great vacation.
So what did you draw? Did you draw yourself on the beach? Did you draw yourself golfing? Or hiking in the rain forest? Are you alone? Do you have people around you?
This is an interesting way to find out what people visualize for a perfect vacation. One company did this but then they also followed up with a series of statements where people had to agree or or disagree. These are called needs-based statements. You can recognize them if you are to agree or disagree with the statement that starts with I do, I like, or I prefer.
Here’s a few of the questions that were asked.
By answering questions like this and giving a value statement, it will help me understand what kind of person you are and what needs you have when you think about a vacation.
The company that executed this survey found that travelers tend to fall into five categories.
The recharge category was someone who wanted their itinerary taken care of, they wanted to have fun but still stay connected.
The security segment didn’t want any surprises, didn’t want to have to deal with anything. These are the people that just like to sit by the pool and have a quiet vacation.
Then there’s the traditional group. They go to same destination every year.
The variety group wants to see new things with every vacation.
Then there are the self planners. They just want to get to their destination and they’ll figure it out when they get there.
Everyone has different needs. So our self planners that just want to get to the destination and they’ll use their smartphone, they’ll ask locals, they’ll figure things out, they value independence. But you see the shared need is with our variety group. A variety group, they want to see something different every time. So both of them, while one group wants to do it on their own and the other group relies maybe on a travel agent, they both share the values of independence and variety. Ultimately they will share the same sense of accomplishment with the family that goes to the same destination every year because what they are looking for is to reconnect with each other.
So let’s go to your website or business. How your business addresses this difference in customer preferences will determine how much of your customer leads you retain as buyers. Your entire website should be a statement that will speak to the needs of the visitors to our website. A statement that reinforces your goal in creating a passionate explorer? Does it speak to the different needs of the groups that we’ve identified? We have hikers, trekkers, romantic holiday makers, we have people looking for cultural tours.
All of them want to explore your destinations in their own unique way and you would be assisting them to do that.
The goal of your website is to provide the ultimate value to the end user. So you need to understand the emotional needs of your customers and there are some crossover needs.
In hiking they want to see something new, they want to challenge themselves, but feel a connection to the earth and to other people around them and they want to experience the environment in their own way. There’s a lot of similarities to our cultural or wildlife safari customers even though they want a more comfortable experience, in their own way they want to have a connection to the earth, to other people and they are just as concerned about the environment but in a different way.
Understanding those needs will help you as you create content, as you communicate with people individually but also as a group. The better you understand your customer, their individual needs, the shared needs, but also the common needs which need to be reflected on the website because you’re receiving a wide variety of different kinds of customers.
So start by understanding the common needs that people are looking for when they’re looking for a vacation or something specific to your business. Then start to segment customers based on their individual needs and you’ll be more effective in communicating to each group.
We develop customer groups with a persona so that we can get to the right customer that actually needs to buy. You see, not all of your customers are the same. Just by looking at what people need or what need they’re trying to satisfy, we can see that there are multiple motivations of what people are trying to achieve.
Even with just a vacation, there are a number of reasons that people will use to go on a vacation, a lot of expectations as to what they want out of that.
And so in order to market effectively, we need to understand what motivations people have and be able to speak to those motivations. Otherwise, our marketing is very broad and we don’t speak to the needs of anybody.
The first way most businesses will try to group their customers is through demographics. Demographics are the typical age, income, region, social status, more of a socioeconomic view of people. But what demographics fail to provide are motivations, needs, a specific identity to our typical customer.
Let’s take an example of a safari company. This is how it would look like. That one of the demographics we want to reach are 30s to 40s middle-aged, maybe we call them DINKs: Double Income, No Kids. They’re from United Kingdom or USA, college educated, they like the outdoors, they’re adventure seekers, and they’ll take two to three short vacations a year. That’s a demographic view of an audience.
It doesn’t dive in as to what they want out of a vacation. What are they looking for? And what emotional triggers will cause them to choose one vacation provider or one destination over another? That’s why we focus on the persona.
The persona gets into pain points, deeper emotional needs that drive their motivation, that drive their decisions. Even within a single demographic, we can have multiple personas because people make decisions based on different needs and motivations.
So when we create a persona, really what we’re doing is telling a story about a specific group of people. And I like to start with a name. A name that would help me identify a specific type of individual that I’m targeting.
I would also group them according to my customer segment (group). So this is going to be my hiking segment (you can have other segments like gorilla trekking, classic safari, romantic holiday segments) and I’m going to name them Mark and Joan. They’re probably in their early 40s. I can say that they are Americans and we can go into jobs and the background of the person. This is where we add some emotional background. Maybe they met while they were hiking, developed a relationship from there. And so now we start developing a backstory.
Demographics, you know what those are. But what I’m really interested in are motivations, what drives them to choose one destination over another. What drives them to choose a specific guide.
One of the things that they’re interested in is the environment. They’re interested in preserving the environment because they enjoy hiking and they see it. And so, they’re going to be very interested in ecological factors, sustainability, and a focus on the environment.
So when you are developing communications, specifically to Marck and Joan, you want to focus on those need-based factors of what are they trying to satisfy. What goals are they trying to reach. So we can say that they are looking to refresh and recharge over a week because this is their getaway. This is how they get rid of everything during their holiday vacation and they’re fresh to go back to work and so this is the getaway but during that getaway, they want to know that they’re doing something good and viable in helping the environment.
And so by understanding their needs and motivations, we can speak to them much more clearly. I like to look at conversations, interviews, comments, anything from e-mails or calls from customers similar to Mark and Joan. That could be how they’ve reviewed our company or our service or concerns that they’ve raised.
And then you also want to look at your message. Is it simple? Does it allow them to talk to their friends about our tour company? And so when our phrase is, for example “Explore Our Pearl, your way,” how does it resonate with them?
Of course, you’ll want to create more personas because you’ll not just have a hiking segment, you have other segments like we mentioned jungle trekking, classic safari, romantic holiday segments and you can’t speak to them the same way as your hiking segment. They’re interested in different things.
And so, we’ve created an image here of Marcus and Joan. They’re in a completely different demographic but they also shop for their vacation in a very different way.
The advantage of developing this persona is that it helps you to connect your marketing in a very personal and emotional way to different groups based on their needs. Ultimately, what a persona does is it creates empathy. When you see the image, when you give your customers names, it makes it more real. You develop your marketing according to the needs of someone who’s much more real than just a customer. It creates that empathy that you and your group can use to connect more clearly to the needs of your customers.