Starting an online business is a process built upon a series of interdependent activities. You begin by choosing a niche and then go to the next step of defining your buyer persona and unique selling proposition (USP).
Before you invest all your effort in social media marketing, SEO, advertising, content marketing and other business processes, you must understand who your buyers are.
Knowing their preferences, needs, and problems will help you to design products, solutions, and services, which suits their wants better.
Additionally, starting an online business means that you will not be the only online entrepreneur trying to serve those buyers because the internet platform is crowded with competition.
For this reason, taking time to understand who your customers are will help you to stand out in areas where your competitors have failed or left gaps.
In this post, I will help you understand what buyer personas are, why they are essential and how to build them for your online business.
I will also give you quick tips on how you can build a compelling, unique selling proposition, which will provide you with a competitive advantage.
Want three books that will teach you how to develop buyer personas further? The three below have every information you need.
What are Buyer Personas?
A buyer persona is a hypothetical representation of your ideal customers/buyers.
It defines who they are, what they want to accomplish, which goals drive them, how they make buying decision and why they need your services and products.
Thus, your buyer personas are the audience you are targeting in the niche you have chosen in the first step of starting an online business.
From the definition above its clear that defining your buyer in the initial stages of starting an online business is all about profiling and understanding their buying behavior.
It is all about answering the 5W and How questions: who, what, where, when, how and why as shown in the examples below.
- Who is my audience?
- What is the problem or issue they have I am trying to solve for them?
- Where do they buy from?
- How do they make their buying decisions?
- Why do they make those buying decisions?
- When do they buy most?
Why are Buyer Personas Important?
Gain Competitive Advantage. The ugly truth is that other businesses have already crowded the online platform with products, solutions, and services relevant to your niche. Starting an online business is easy because you I know you already have the best idea, but selling it to the ideal customers is the deal breaker. Before you waste too many resources in non-targeted campaigns and marketing strategies, it is advisable you begin with identifying your buyer persona. This will help you to come up with business ideas which fill gaps and solve problems overlooked by other online entrepreneurs.
Audience needs Change: Your buyer’s preferences will change with seasons and shifts in motivations in their lives. Therefore, it is essential to take time to understand what worked in the past, that which is relevant in the present and where possible make predictions about what will be critical to your buyers in future. Defining your buyer’s personas will help you to keep up with these changing trends. Starting an online business, which is profitable is all about being relevant at all times despite the volatility in the market and customers preferences.
Builds Brand loyalty: Customers always wants to be associated with online entrepreneurs who will give them value and solve their problems. In this case, before starting an online business, you can leverage this advantage through knowing your customer’s buyer personas. In doing so, you will quickly gain their loyalty to your brand as long as you remain consistent to offering value and meeting their needs.
Saves money, time and other resources: For example, targeting a specific group of buyers, such as first-time dads in New York is less costly and produces higher returns and more meaningful insights than targeting all dads in the world. Gathering such information before starting an online business will save you turns of time and resources you would have spent on trial and error marketing efforts.
Informs your decision-making strategies: All other decisions that you will make on your online business, such as website design, marketing strategies, and unique selling propositions will depend on your buyer persona. For this reason, every decision must always favor and support their needs, preferences, and priorities, and this is where the importance of identifying your customers’ buyer personas come into play.
How To Create Buyer Personas
Part One: If you already have an online business Use the three strategies below
I do not want to make any assumptions here that this post is for newbies. So let me begging by showing you how you can create buyer personas for a business that is established and running.
Strategy one: Examine Patterns in Audience Analytics and Insights Reports
If you already have an online business that has been running for a month or more, you have access to analytics and insights reports in the following tools.
First, you can get a robust definition of your audience in Google Analytics Audience reports. Additionally, if you have a business account on social media networks, you can learn your audience behavior from Facebook Insights, Pinterest Analytics, and Twitter analytics.
For example, below is a sample of Google analytics audience report.
Strategy Two: Talk to your existing customers
There are several ways you can do this. First, you can use data collection tools to create surveys or polls, such as SurveyMonkey and TypeForm. Find an example of a survey designed with TypeForm below.
Additionally, you can use other primary methods to collect data, such as interviews and questionnaires.
Strategy Three: Conduct Market performance analysis
Additionally, you can use these tools to determine where your traffic is coming from in terms of your audience demographics.
Below is an example of all the data that you can get from SemRush analytics about your brand.
Part Two: If you do not have an online business use these three strategies
What if you are a complete newbie starting an online business from scratch without an already established online business are there strategies you can use?
Yes. Below is a list of few examples you can use.
Strategy One: Market research
Carry out comprehensive market research using these strategies can help you understand your audience before starting an online business.
Firstly, use a combination of these ten Market research tools, especially Quora, Facebook Groups and Reddit to monitor questions raised by your target audience.
Secondly, use keyword research to track which search queries have high search volume in search engines. If they have high search volume, it means these are the problems your buyers are looking for answers.
Strategy two: Competitor Analysis
The advantage of SimilarWeb is that they have a Chrome Extension, which will enable you to monitor any website from anywhere on the web as you continue surfing the internet.
Strategy Three: Analyze your competitor’s Audience
Visit blogs, sites and social media pages of other online entrepreneurs doing well in your target niche.
Browse through the comments and take an interest in the profiles of the people leaving comments and other forms of engagements.
Monitor similar patterns similar on their demographic and personal information, such as locations, age, interests, education level and job title among others.
Buyer Persona Templates
All the information you gather from these research efforts should be recorded down in the templates discussed below.
The good thing about you using a template is that you can refer back to this information later in the process of starting an online business.
An easy-to-use app that will help you to generate neat and well-organized buyer personas.
You can use the pre-defined templates or start from scratch.
It allows a vast room for the ability to make customizations, such as you can add modules and other functionalities to the pre-defined settings.
This tool is free, and all you have to do is register to begin using it.
If you prefer spreadsheet over the text and image based templates above, this app is a time saver.
You can use multiple tabs in it and adjust them any way you want them to appear.
They even offer video tutorials on how to use these template.
If you are looking for an alternative Marketo’s Marketing, Persona Cheat Sheet would be the best in that case.
What is Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
This is the selling point or advantage that will give you a competitive advantage over other online entrepreneurs in the niche you are targeting.
It is that characteristic of your products or unique way of doing things that will ensure that you succeed in marketplaces where other people have failed or have left gaps.
To determine your USP try to answer the questions below before starting an online business.
- What will set you apart from others offering the services, products, and content in your niche?
- What is that unique thing you will do to succeed where others have failed?
- What gaps have your competitors left that you can fill?
Three Strategies you can use to create your USP
- Examine customer reviews: Visit general review sites, such as TrustPilot or product specific ones, such as Amazon and AppStore among others and identify gaps left by competitors. Look for negative reviews or those containing recommendations and other conditional statements of dissatisfaction.
- Future Trends Opportunities: The online platform keeps changing with the evolution of new technology and customer buyer personas. As a wise entrepreneur, you can take advantage of this and create a product or service that will be relevant in future even if it’s not popular in the present.
- Imitate the customer: Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and personalize/humanize their needs and bear them as your own Keep assuming that you are the customer and this will help you come up with solutions that match your customers need.
- Progressive Evaluation: Identifying your USP is not a straightforward process. More so it should not be a one-time activity, but a continuous action that gets modified along the way. Take an interest in the reviews and recommendations your business will receive from your target market and imitate them into your business.
Just like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, starting an online business is a process made up of several steps.
You begin by identifying your market niche and then move to finding your buyer personas and USP.
Buyer personas and your USP will represent the profiles and purchasing behaviors of your ideal customers.
If you are looking for simplified versions of a buyer persona and USP template and example, the two links below can help.
On top of the hacks provided above, use these quick tips to simplify the process of defining your buyer personas and USP.
It is okay to define your personas broadly: Remember that you can have many personals or broad audiences, especially when you are starting out. Do not stress yourself over this, the most important thing to do is identify them and clarify, which one is more appropriate along the way.
Buyer personas Change: In the marketing world, no buyer persona is permanent. For this reason, you should consider adjusting your buyer personas to match your growing business targeting needs and customer base.
Take Action: It is not possible to have all the answers to the questions related to your buyer persona and USP. This is okay, and you should not let it 11delay your acceleration speed. Start with what you have.
Want three books that will teach you how to develop buyer personas further. The three below have every information you need.
Feel free to leave a comment below asking a question, sharing your own personal process of keyword research or even better provide a suggestion of a post you would like me to write about.
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