Top-Shelf Tip No. 152:

"As you've noticed, people don't want to be sold. What people do want is news and information about the things they care about."

Larry Weber

Personify Your Prospects To Drive More Sales

Meet Bill, he's the owner and CEO of a growing, mid-sized manufacturing company. Bill is in his early 40s, wears glasses and tries his best to squeeze in an early-morning workout whenever he can. Bill drives a late model SUV with a booster seat in the back seat for his four-year-old daughter.

Helen is his director of sales. She's 32, single, a competitive runner and is partial to 80s rock. She drives a new BMW convertible. She struggles with managing a dozen salespeople, many who are 10 to 15 years older than she is. Helen wants the company to invest in a new CRM system to replace the contact management they long ago outgrew, but wonders how she'll convince Bill and the company's CFO to spend the money.

Bill and Helen are not real people, but their insights can help you better connect with prospects and customers. This is part of persona-based marketing, which describes who a prospect or customer is by also answering questions about their behavior such as: what keeps this person awake at night? How does he spend his time? How does she like to buy?

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these tips from marketing expert Mac McIntosh on how to get started in creating your own customer personas.

Convene a group of employees who interact with your customers and prospects. Bring in lunch and a white board and ask them to help you build a persona for each of your target customers.

Start by describing the customer's role in their company: CEO, CIO, CFO, COO, sales manager, purchasing agent, user and any other important influencers.

Next describe the kind of company they work for. What industry is it in? How big is it? How up-to-date is it? Does it have a lot of competition?

Then describe the person and their behavior: Give each persona a name, a title, an age and describe how he or she looks. How does he dress? What kind of car does she drive? What does he do in his free time? What kind of educational background does she have?

Flesh out as many attributes as you need to give a full, rounded picture of who this person is. Then, turn to your persona's problems and goals.

Think about what this person's daily calendar looks like? What are his or her most pressing concerns? What product or service attributes would be most helpful in solving this person's problems? Is he or she looking to roll out a new service, getting ready for an IPO, dealing with a new competitor who has just entered the market?

Then, when formulating your marketing messages, think about what path this prospect or customer might pursue to solve this problem. Will he or she turn to white papers or articles in trade publications or on web sites? Would this customer or prospect seek input from a speaker at a networking group of their peers? Let the personas steer the route, which you can pave with information that can help your prospect and customers move forward in their consideration and buying process.

Persona-based marketing can be a powerful way to focus your business-to-business marketing messages, driving more leads and "stickier" sales.

Source: Mac McIntosh designs, implements and improves lead management and marketing automation programs for lead generation, lead qualification and scoring and sales conversion. He's helped more than 100 companies achieve their sales and marketing goals.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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