The Critical First Step of Online Marketing

Not that long ago, small business marketing options followed these general steps:

  1. Decide on a publication type
  2. Write a check
  3. Design an ad somewhat familiar to your competition but a little different
  4. Release the ad
  5. Wonder how many customers this ad might have brought.

Times have really changed and for the better. Online marketing offers real-time, measurable results along with the ability to connect with your audience in a way that could have residual effects. Given the variety of options for reaching an online audience, this new way of marketing can undoubtedly be confusing and complex to figure out what is best for your business. That’s why you need to start with a well-defined Marketing strategy.

Marketing online effectively requires a strategy

Strategies are used for everything from planning for retirement to organizing an event to dating to find you ideal match. Strategies help us reach our goal. Similarly, an online marketing strategy is designed to reach these two goals:

  1. Reach a target audience
  2. Achieve the desired conversion

So far, this doesn’t seem that complex, right? As business owners, the goal is more revenue and more people talking about our brand. There, strategy DONE! Uh, no….stay with me here.

An online marketing strategy will deliver a higher conversion rate if it begins by considering an ideal customer or persona.

Why is persona development so important?

Persona development forces a shift from entrepreneurial mind to thinking like a prospective customer. Each prospective customer has a set of needs that can be easily overlooked if the marketing message is narrowly focused on the wrong message. Some examples of customer-focused considerations include:

  • Convenience – Does your marketing clearly state your location, hours, availability, etc.?
  • Budget – Does your messaging clearly address pricing?
  • Lifestyle – Does your messaging appeal to a specific lifestyle?
  • Personality – Does your messaging provide a sense of the brand’s culture or is it dry, technical and straightforward?

Be aware that there will be at the very least one “A-ha” moment from this exercise. It’s OK to spread the word about your genius ideas.

Key factors for Persona development

Persona development should not be a complicated task when you understand your ideal customer. If you offer multiple services that targets a different audience type then create a different audience specific persona.

Here’s a sample persona created for a client.

Here’s a sample persona created for a client.

Key Factors

  • Give your persona a name. This helps to address this persona like a real customer.
  • Include some demographics. Like age, income level, occupation. Give your persona an occupation. How does this person spend their day?
  • Persona quote. At some point in time your ideal customer has a need that brings them to search the type of product a service you offer. Highlight this with a sample quote.
  • Primary decision-making factors. There are key factors that contribute to their decision-making process. List the primary factors that would grab their attention in your marketing message.
  • Research areas. Is there research involved in their decision making? What might those research areas be (ex. Google reviews, Search engine, social media, online directory, etc.)
  • Once you have this in a concise document, you can begin your online marketing strategy. Answer the question: How can we attract people like {insert persona’s name} to inquire about and purchase from my business?

The million-dollar benefit of persona development

As a business owner, you may be thinking that you already know all these details and this isn’t the best use of valuable time.  As a business owner myself, I can’t disagree with that, the struggle is real. These are the two biggest reasons this process is a million-dollar benefit.

  1. You will feel much more confident and in control with your next marketing decision when you consider the needs of your customer/persona first.
  2. The light bulb moment your staff will have when they ALL know and understand the needs of the ideal customer.

Online Marketing is comprised of a wide variety of techniques for connecting and engaging with your audience. It’s nearly impossible to do all of them well. Persona development will undoubtedly direct you to the areas of online marketing that reach your ideal customer and provide quality leads.

Bonus Time

I’ve developed a blank persona development guideline to keep you on track during this exercise. Click here for your free downloadable persona guideline.