The following material comes from the forthcoming eBook, Marketing Essentials for Growing Businesses. To get this eBook for free when it comes out, register by clicking here.

How, then, do you determine who your ideal customer is? There’s various ways to do this, but let me share the method we used at Palladium. It’s been effective for us, and I trust it will be useful for you. Follow these four steps, and you’ll have a better grasp on your target audience. That’s what I mean by “marketing personas”. The end result of the following exercise is to identify your ideal customers, those most likely to buy your products.

Step One: Decide on a few types

Your goal at this stage is to *come up with three to five types of customers*. (These will be the foundation of your personas.) Even if you’re just selling one product, this is applicable to you. A single product business owner always needs to create more than one persona. (You don’t want too many, just a few.) These three to five personas are the perfect clients for your business—**the ideal person or company to whom you want to sell your product or service.** This is the ideal client you want to sell to.

All of our personas, for example, at Palladium are companies who need high quality products with good customer service. Thus, we target those who will frequently need our product. We want to have on-going, continuous relationships with our customers. So we asked ourselves, “Who’s the ideal customer for this?”

The result? We decided on these three types so we could develop personas around them.

  • Education professionals.
  • Commercial developers.
  • Contractor workers (home service, HVAC, taxis, etc.).

These types of customers develop into personas as you add texture to them.

Step Two: Develop your types into personas.

Then, once you’ve decided on your ideal client types, take time to identify their primary desire of each one. Do this by asking the question, “What do they want?”

For Palladium, we discerned the following primary desires for each type.

  • Education professionals
  • Commercial developers
  • Contractor workers

Take, for example, one of our personas built around the commercial developer. We picked four or five specific products that they are most likely to need—like construction site signage and vehicles—and asked, “What aspect of the service is important to them?” They needed reliable delivery deadlines, good service, and a quick and easy ordering process.

As you develop your types of customers to have a personality, so to speak, of their own, they become personas. The most personal aspect of a corporate (or individual) personality is desire. That’s where it starts, but next find out where that desire has your customers.

Step Three: Find out where they are.

Next ask of your personas, “Where do we find them?” If you’re going to find a commercial developer, we asked ourselves, where do we find them? We determined that they’re all searching online for services—that’s a common thread for commercial developers. But we also realized that most commercial developers here in Nashville are involved in networking events like Chamber of Commerce. Thus, we deduced two specific “places” to find our commercial developers.

  • Digital channels
  • Networking events

That provided the basic framework for our personas. Now—time to act!

Step Four: Start marketing!

From our persona development of the commercial developer, we decided to take two action steps.

  • Digital. We came up with a targeted Google AdWords campaign.
  • Networking. We joined the Chamber of Commerce.

The reason we made those decisions is because we knew that digital marketing and networking would work for this persona. We also knew that merely becoming a member of the chamber is not enough, so we bought a table at the after hours quarterly social event. We found exactly and only what we needed to do and we did that.

This is just one example—for you it will be different.

Even our education persona was different than our other two personas. We knew from this process that educational organizations *will find us online*, but they’re not going to chamber of commerce events. (Educators and school administrators rarely, if ever, go to networking events.) So we decided to get involved in the schools at a grassroots level. As a result we started to volunteer with The Pencil Foundation of Nashville (http://www.pencilfoundation.org/) in order to give back. In addition, took more action by providing job shadowing at Palladium’s office and speaking about graphic design for signs during a class session at a potential customer’s school.

We mentioned earlier that you should post your values on the wall of your office. The same goes for your personas. Visit our blog at www.palladiumsigns.com/blog to see a picture of our three personas posted on the wall of our meeting room.

Local companies that do great marketing

Many companies in Nashville have great marketing strategies.

For example, the Bank of Nashville networks really well, and their brand is better for it. I know this because I see at every BNi group in the Greater Nashville Area that I’ve been a Bank of Nashville member. You wouldn’t think bankers would join networking events—but these bankers do! The strategy they’re going for is that they’re a community bank. That’s one of their values and thus part of their brand identity. So rather than put out TV ads or print ads to say we’re a community bank, they’re actually showing that they’re a community bank. Other banks do this too, but the Bank of Nashville stands out to me for the way they networking.

Advice

When it comes down to it, you’ll have to test and try out strategies to find what works to sell to customers. So here I’ll offer my top principles about marketing that I wish—for their sake—all business owners knew.

1. You have to market.
2. Do it with purposeful intent.
3. Remember that it’s a trial and error process.
4. Continually evolution your strategies.
5. It pays off in the end.
6. It’s the lifeblood of any business.

Bringing if home

If someone says, “I don’t market, I only get referrals,” remember that their referrals *come from marketing*. “Referral Marketing” is, in fact, its own thing. Those who are successful at this type of promotion may not be aware that they are marketing, but they are. Business owners must know this know to maximize their investments of time, money, and customer service. Marketing includes customer service because if a customer has good a experience with your business, that experience can produce an excellent referral.

In fact, this is how my family’s home builder in Jackson, Tennessee marketed his business. He relied completely on referrals. In fact, *he never advertised on any sort of media*. The only thing he did to “market” was to do great work and offer great service. As a result, people told their friends about him. This was built around his whole business model. He didn’t try to build the most homes or build cheap houses; instead, he sought to make his customers happy enough to tell someone else. That’s marketing at it’s finest. Everything else is an offshoot and expansion on that principle.

As always, we’re glad to help you brainstorm you as you consider your company’s branding and think about how to put that brand out there. Give us a call! The number is (615) 462-5383.

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