Savvy Speaks: Know Thy Customer

Savvy Speaks: Know Thy Customer
Savvy Sisters - Thu Apr 14, 2011 @ 08:00AM
Comments: 5

Marketing is all about knowing your customers – but how do you get this data? This week the Savvy Sisters reveal their tips and methods for finding out those nitty gritty details that make sales. 



Because my whole career has been in B2B I can't stress knowing the customer enough!  B2B customers very rarely "happen upon" your product.  There is an extensive buying process between you and even the most willing customer so knowing not only the customer but the hurdles is key.

Analysts or semi-retired industry consultants can be really helpful.  Anyone who previously worked inside the industry or vertical market you are trying to reach.  Set up a mock pitch to someone in this position.  The difference between an analyst and a prospect is the analyst doesn't have to be nice.  You are paying them to tell you your baby is ugly.

Current customers are the next best thing.  If you know why your current customers bought your product then you can build some repeatable steps with others in the market.  It is important not to rely to heavily on this because every buyer has their own internal politics but the framework is often the same and can go along way to helping you identify the target buyer in an organization.



Develop Comprehensive Buyer Personas

Last year I interviewed Tony Zambito of Goal Centric, a company that specializes in buyer persona development. Here's what Tony shared.

it's a complex B2B sales and marketing environment, you need a minimum of three months in order to:

  1. Conduct internal stakeholder interviews, map to assumptions about the marketplace and buyers, and then validate those.
  2. Conduct 20-40 interviews with customers.
  3. Distill information to identify insights and key patterns about market and buyers.
  4. Evaluate implications and determine how they inform the company's strategy.
  5. Build buyer scenarios, map to the buying process, and determine messages that should align with those.
  6. Identify the profound insights and boil them down into coherent statements.
  7. Deliver all of this so it can be put into play, either via a document or an interactive tool or by embedding it into an existing application, and then lead teams through the insights.
Check out the full interview for Tony's insights.



Marketers are always talking about the importance of knowing their customers and developing personas. It's true - there isn't anything more important than this. However, how exactly do you do this?

The best way is to talk to your customers and potential customers, but you can also conduct surveys. Not only do you want to learn about what makes your customers tick, but you also want to understand where they like to get their information.

In my very first post on Savvy B2B, I posed 20 questions you should ask about your readers, and that list is a great starting place.  

You THINK You Know Your Readers. . . But Do You?



A Little Online Espionage

I agree that one-on-one interviews with real live prospects and customers are the best way to get the inside scoop, but if - for whatever reason - conducting live interviews isn't possible, you can learn a lot with a little strategic sleuthing.

Step 1: Find out where your target audience "lives" online. Which blogs, forums, and LinkedIn groups do they follow? If they are engaged on Twitter, which hashtags do they search on? Are they attending online events - webinars, teleclasses, panel discussions?

Step 2: Analyze what brings them to these locations and what engages them once they are there. Take an in-depth look at how these venues appeal to the audience. What are they promising in return for participation? What kind of content are they delivering? Which content is drawing the deepest engagement in terms of comments, Facebook likes and Twitter retweets? How is your audience engaging - what are they saying, how are they saying it, what is their personality?

Step 3: Use the trends and patterns you see in your analysis to create personas that clearly identify yuor target's personality, interests, desires, needs, pain points, etc.

And then you're ready to rock and roll - creating the content that will draw them in, speak to them, and get them to say "yes."

Wendy Thomas


Online reserach is invaluable. Before I do an article interview you can bet I've researched all I can about the subject. That will give me ideas of what to ask. It also lets me know what not to ask - if there is tons of information on the same 'ol thing, that's not what I want to write about. 

My work as an Instructional Designer prepared me for interviews by way of a Needs and an Audience analysis. We'd have to come up with questions for which the answers would help us advocate for the student. If we were developing first aid training that needed to be taught near water - we'd water-proof the material. If we knew the audience had different types of adult learners, we'd include tons of graphics along with text. Language was chosen based on our audience and topics were decided based on what was really needed and not what we thought was "nice to know".

The best piece of advice I can give? Just remember: It's not about you. It's about them. - take your ego and your preconceptions out of the equation and focus on your customer and what it is they really need to know.  





Getting data from existing customers can tell you a lot about your real life value proposition (and it might not be what you think it is!)and what you need to say or do to knock the next guy off the fence. 

For this information, nothing can take the place of live interviews. Ask all the nitty gritty questions - what they love, what they don't, what their final decision criteria were and whether or not they would make the same decision the next time around. Take the opportunity to ask them what other complementary products and services they would like to see you offer, too.

If you don't have the resources to do live interviews, a survey can work well, too. Just make sure to ask the tough questions and be prepared to act on the answers.


Do you have some methods we haven't covered here?

What works for you?


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