Imagine you’re the manager of a baseball team with the game on the line and your team up to bat in the bottom of the ninth. You have to decide which of your sluggers to send up to bat: the lefty or the righty. You look down at the scouting report in your hand which shows that left handed batters against the pitcher on the mound have a .332 batting average and right handed batters hit .280. When you have the right information at hand its obvious which batter to call on to give your team the best shot to win.
Over the last 5 years we’ve interviewed hundreds of CEOs and marketing executives for our digital marketing consulting firm. They come from well funded start ups and Fortune 500 companies with sales and marketing problems – ones they hope we can fix. A section of our structured interview process asks detailed questions about the company’s customers. The answers to these questions involve the executive giving details about segmentation, buyer roles, psychographics, and response variables for each type of customer. It’s not surprising that the executives coming to us with sales and marketing problems cannot answer fundamental questions about their customers.
Similar to the baseball coach, a CEO and CMO can make sales and marketing decisions obvious with the right customer scouting report. You undoubtedly wear multiple hats already, but the hat that represents your customers is the one hat that can make the other hats easier to wear. You should know your customers so well that marketing decisions become obvious. While this principle is simple, it’s not simplistic so here are three pieces of information you can add to your customer scouting report to make the right calls:
Fill out your market segments with personas. “Segmentation, targeting, and positioning.” Textbook Phillip Kotler and marketing 101. However, if you’ve seen a classical representation of market segmentation lately you probably remember not being able to make much use of it. Instead, use personas, hypothetical archetypes of your customers. Personas put a name, face, and story around your customers making it easy to step in their shoes and get on the same page with your entire team.
Interview your sales and customer service people. If I could come up with a painless procedure that connects CEOs to the collective conscious of their salespeople when making marketing decisions I’d have the next big thing to hit business with an actual monetization strategy. The people who talk to your customers everyday are the best resource to fill in your personas. And if you need buy-in for this persona project, it’s also the cheapest way.
Create a persona experience map. Take what you learned from creating personas and speaking with the sales team to map out each persona’s touch point with your company from problem recognition through post sale. Turn this mapping process into an exercise with people from each function of the business. At the end, you’ll have more than just a deliverable to share with the entire team. Once your customers have a name, face, story, and a map on every which way they interact with your company the next steps to increase sales or retention will be obvious.