“With ten thousand page followers, why can’t we sell any products?” This important question came from Thai SMEs who participated in Boost with Facebook, a digital marketing skill development project. The reason behind this challenge is that the entrepreneurs did not have an understanding of their customers. As a result, many of their followers were not interested in the business, or the marketing communications strategies did not match their audiences.
Understanding the customer is an integral part of the marketing plan, especially in a competitive market, such as social media, where everyone is vying for the audience’s attention. Entrepreneurs with a deep understanding of their target customers can offer products or services that match their specific needs. Establishing buyer personas can help entrepreneurs find the secret sauce to make their customers fall in love with their products.
Buyer persona: an imitation of your customer
A buyer persona is an “avatar,” or a character that closely replicates the ideal customer’s characteristics. Not just demographic characteristics or general traits such as gender, age, address, and income, but also insights such as purchasing behaviors, lifestyles, interests, and motivations to help businesses visualize their customers. Mapping this out will allow companies to understand what customers like or dislike, how to communicate with them, or which platform they use.
A persona is a marketing tool that many entrepreneurs and marketers often overlook. Many SME owners believe that they already have enough understanding about their customers. However, paying more attention to persona will encourage entrepreneurs to develop more effective products, marketing strategies, and communication plans.
Using personas to boost marketing
Adopting a persona starts with internal communication to align employees with what attributes make up a persona suitable for the business— all parties within an organization work with the persona as a guideline. For example, the product development team can use a persona to understand customers’ pain points and develop new products to solve them. In contrast, the marketing team may identify a persona’s favorite influencers or actors and communicate through relevant channels or create relatable content.
It is important for entrepreneurs to manage their digital marketing, such as Facebook, to refine their audience targeting and optimize advertisements to match audiences’ interests. Creating a persona will help narrow down the target audience to support matching with the right customers. The overall result is that the advertising campaign will be more effective.
How many personas does a business need?
Businesses tend to have a wide variety of target customers. Many kinds of products or services with different parties making purchase decisions (for example, B2B businesses) come with multiple customer groups. A persona is used to reach different customer groups strategically. Therefore, entrepreneurs can create as many personas as necessary, according to their business size and marketing resources. Small businesses or start-ups should start with creating a persona of the primary customer group first. Then, when expanding the business, more personas can be added. However, no matter how many personas a business has, they should try to include as much information as possible to get the best out of the persona model.
Data is the key to success
Understanding customers requires doing homework and collecting data from “ideal customers.” Data accuracy will help to support realistic persona analysis to add to marketing plans. If a persona is created without in-depth information or misleading insights, the research will likely lead to ineffective marketing plans or products.
Market research may sound intimidating to an SME, but it does not always require many resources. Existing information, such as reports, studies, customer information in a business database, website insights, social media insights (such as Facebook insights), and conversations with existing and potential customers, can help to create personas.
Once a good persona has been developed, regular monitoring and evaluation should be conducted to analyze its match to the marketplace.
Kenan Foundation Asia has been working to develop Thai SMEs for over 25 years. We understand the needs of small entrepreneurs and continue to help entrepreneurs recover from the pandemic and move forward with support from a network of partners from public, private and civil society organizations. If you are an SME interested in developing small entrepreneurs with Kenan, you can learn more about our business and training programs at www.kenan-asia.org and www.facebook.com/KenanThailand.
This article was written by Sompeeti Wallibhodome, a Senior Consultant in Kenan Foundation Asia’s Economic and Business Development Department, and part of Kenan’s research team who study Thailand, the ASEAN business landscape, and its competitive advantages. Please contact [email protected] for further information