How to get more clients like your “best” clients

All clients are not created equally. While we know that, many of us actively pursue any client rather than focusing on a specific “ideal or best client.” The fear is that if we limit ourselves to only seeking one client type, we may not be able to make enough money. Even if that could be true for your business (but probably isn’t), it is beneficial to identify what kind of clients you really want and how you can get more like them. Here are 4 steps to get you started: (more…)

Top 10 marketing dos and don’ts

Many professionals aren’t comfortable with marketing. Good marketing isn’t a mystery, but it does take time to figure out. A good way to get started is to consider some marketing dos and don’ts to guide your efforts so they will be more effective in attracting business. (more…)

7 great ways to research your ideal buyer

Buyer Persona Speech Bubble People Customers Profile ClientsHow much do you know about your ideal buyer or client? In my last post, I covered 14 things you must know about your buyers in order to effectively focus your marketing. Now the question is where you can find that information.

In developing a buyer persona or client profile, you want it to be based on real data and research, not just what you think is true about your market. To that end, here are 7 ways to gather that information:

1. Existing data from clients/prospects. One of the first steps you should take is to look at what clients and prospects have already told you about themselves. When new clients and prospects come in, you should try to gather as much information as you can, such as their individual and company information, demographics, needs, how they got to you, etc. Go through your own database (or create one if you don’t already have one) and analyze and segment your contacts. You may be surprised by how much you can learn about what types of clients are attracted to you, at what times and under what circumstances. The data can reveal niches, trends, patterns and other useful statistics allowing you to better target your ideal audience.

2. Appending data. Often you can’t collect as much information as you would like directly from contacts. People hate to fill out forms and it can be difficult to get answers without annoying clients and prospects. In some cases, you can fill in the gaps by appending your data through third parties. There are services offering to fill in gaps in your data with financial and industry information, contact names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. There are also data mining and aggregation services which gather information from public sources and the internet.

3. Analytics. Your email, web and social media analytics provide a great deal of useful information to help you to create and hone your buyer personas. Understanding how, when and where people find you online and engage with you can reveal a wealth of information about them. For example, the key words they are searching online can tell you about their concerns or reveal trends. The third party sites sending traffic to you tell you about what information sources they may be using. When you produce content, analyze which types and outlets result in more site visitors, registrations, email click-throughs, and social media sharing to determine what resonates with your audience.

4. Surveys, interviews, focus groups. It’s crucial for your buyer persona to incorporate feedback from actual people. Affirmatively reach out to your clients and prospects. Find out how they found you, what their chief concerns and motivations were, how they went through the buying process, and what they like about your services.

5. Competitive intelligence. Yes you need to focus your research on your buyer, but you should also look at what your competitors are doing. In what ways are they targeting this buyer? How are they positioning themselves? You should look at their website, marketing materials, clients, and social media and web traffic. How are buyers connecting and engaging with them? From where are they getting their traffic? What distribution outlets are they using? The idea is to consider what are they doing differently from you and what lessons can you learn about your buyer.

6. Industry sources. It’s crucial to understand the industry in which your prospects operate. What is happening in their industry? Who are the relevant players? What are the key concerns? Research and subscribe to publications, blogs and other information resources relevant to your audience’s industry. Think about how these developments impact your clients and prospects both positively and negatively.

7. Social listening or social media monitoring. By actively monitoring social media channels, you can gain valuable information about your target audience. You can use social media to learn about industry developments and concerns, find influencers and communities, check out competitors, research leads, explore content ideas, and pose questions to your prospects. Join relevant LinkedIn groups, use Twitter to search for appropriate hashtags, follow companies and competitors, and set up alerts to stay current on your market.

You can do all of the above on your own, but there are also tools and service providers to help you with each of them. There are plenty of recommendations online for everything from CRM systems and marketing automation software to web analytic and social listening tools. For some suggested tools, see Social Media Today, Blogging Wizard and Curata.

Some of these may go beyond your needs and that’s fine. As I said in my last post, the important point is to not gloss over creating these profiles. The more you know about your buyer’s needs, the better you can tailor the substance of your message as well as how you promote it to them.

14 things you must know to target your ideal buyer

Target your buyer personaWhat do you know about the people and companies you are targeting for business? You may think you know enough since you have a fair amount of business already. However, if you want to bring in more new clients and build stronger relationships with the ones you have, you may want to look at how you can understand them better. The best way to do that is to create a buyer persona – that is, a profile of your ideal buyer or client. Your goal is to develop a detailed profile so you can identify what content your audience will find helpful and deliver it to them when and where they need it. In that way, you can showcase your expertise and build the trust and connections that will grow your business.

If you are looking to attract business clients, the first step is to think carefully about who you are targeting within a company. You should build a buyer persona around a specific person (or persons) within the organization. Then gather information on the following:

1. Company size and revenue. Potential for growth in the business, number of employees, and other factors may also be relevant.

2. Industry. You should understand your prospect’s industry as well as what is happening in that industry – news, developments, economic issues, key players, etc.

3. Competitive position. Who are your prospect’s main competitors and how do they compare?

4. Location. Where are your prospects and their customers?

5. Job title, responsibilities, and key demographics. Remember there may be differences among companies in how they title a position and the scope of the responsibilities so focus on the key attributes that define your buyer. The same is true with respect to demographic information. Consider the ones that are most important.

6. Role in the decision-making process. Within a company, are you targeting an influencer, the actual decision-maker or the person researching and gathering information? The point is that if there are multiple people involved, you want to make sure your content is appropriate to each one.

7. Buyer’s journey. How are buying decisions made? What are the steps and who controls and influences each one? What factors are most/least important at each stage? How are potential vendors identified and researched?

8. Behavior patterns/motivations/objections. What causes your prospects to seek outside resources? What are the arguments or objections you anticipate hearing during the decision-making process? What do they value and trust? What are their communication preferences?

9. Budget and priorities. How much money do they have to spend and what are their competing concerns?

10. Interests, concerns, goals and pain points. What do your prospects care about? What are they looking to achieve and what are their problems and stressors?

11. Information sources. Where do your prospects turn to for information about their industry or to solve their problems? How often and in what format do they prefer to receive information (email, print, webinars, live events, etc.)?

12. Other service providers. Are your prospects using several service providers in your area to handle their needs? If yes, who are they and how and why is the work being distributed among the firms?

13. Up-selling/cross-selling. Could they have need of other services you could provide?

14. Level of knowledge about your services. Are you dealing with experienced buyers? Have you worked with them before?

In creating your buyer persona, you can turn to free basic templates offered by HubSpot and Buyer Persona Institute to help get you started or work with an experienced marketer. However, the important thing to remember is to not gloss over creating these profiles. Know your buyers so you can tailor the substance of your message as well as how you promote it to them.

Now that you know what you need to know about your buyer, how do you find this information? That’s the subject of my next post.