A client persona (buyer persona, or marketing persona) can help you to improve your firm's marketing and fee structure. Previous articles looked at why have a client persona and what goes into your client persona), the focus here is what you'll do to create them. Your client persona is a sketch of your ideal client, that you can use to focus your marketing to their needs.
Steps to create your client persona.
Step 1: Consider broad characteristics of the 3-5 client personas you might create.
This helps define where your team will look for evidence. But be ready to change these characteristics as you look at the specifics. For example
'Smiths & Daughters' is a fictional small accounting firm in a county town. The majority of their existing clients are SME business owners of various types. They serve a number of farmers and a few manufacturing companies. In order to grow (average fees and client numbers) they want to improve their marketing. You might see 4 groups of clients:
- Farmers: might lead to a client persona they could create.
- Manufacturing firm: might be enough to start creating a client persona. But, if we realised that buyers vary between MD, FD, owner and central purchasing group then there is more work needed here.
- Local SME: Too wide a group to be useful. We might initially split it into very small start-ups (no interested in marketing to them-perhaps), ambitious rapidly growing IT companies (a number exist in the local town councils incubators) etc. Don't bother investigating the groups you don't want to market - at least not now!
- Business lifecycle mature and growing businesses: this in combination with some of the other groups may lead to client personas
Step 2: Break down the 4 buying groups into who the buyer actually is.
Consider the person who will buy your services, not just the company. Your ambitious IT companies might have different buyers:
- The founder – intends to keep hold of the firm and grow it
- The founder – who has a large amount of venture capital and wants to sell the firm.
- The FD – daily operations of the firm have now been passed to a management team, rather than the founder.
Step 3: Complete your information search and pool your understanding.
'Smiths & Daughters' ended up with four client personas they want to market to. They have more information than this for each persona, but these short sketches make the point:
- Tenacious Tim: Tim has built his I.T. company from scratch, and wants to develop it as a large family company. He currently turns over £1.2M with a net profit of £x.
- Fact driven Fiona: Fiona the FD runs the financial side of the growing IT business. She makes the decisions in her area. You need to sell to Fiona, not the owner. You would add more details about Fiona, and the typical firm she represents.
How to use your client persona
Once your buyer personas are clear you know who, how, and where you should be to get the best return on investment. The information in each persona improves targeting of ads, the 'psychographic' data helps you to write more engaging content for each persona.
In a different example Bert is likely to be more influenced by telling him about how you could discount his fees, as he is more price-conscious than Celia. Celia's needs are much more about support, ongoing relationship and the stress she suffers regarding her tax affairs (however simple they may be to you).