How To Speak So Your Clients Will Listen (And Invest)
Headline: How To Speak So Your Clients Will Listen (And Invest)
Author: Forbes Finance Council, CommunityVoice
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2017 09:00:00 -0400
Hours Ago: 14
The internet is teeming with financial services providers: brokers, budgeting apps, trading guides, personal finance gurus, digital currency exchanges, payment terminals, and more. Whether or not these companies are in the same space as your company or in a related vertical, they are vying for your clients’ attention, and some of them may be succeeding. Further complicating matters is the fact that, in today’s highly digital world, your savviest competitors can actually target your clients and others who fit criteria similar to your clients, which can cause you to lose both existing and potential business.
The solution to these challenges is to focus not on the messages you think your clients (and potential clients) should hear, but on the offerings they are actually looking for. With this strategy, you will be able to appeal to the masses without having to explain yourself or introduce a new product or service: a proposition that can raise your user acquisition costs and elongate the conversion funnel. But how can you really know what your users want? This question is at the core of any strong marketing team and will require a bit of research in order to find the right answer.
Creating A User Persona
In the marketing world, many professionals believe in the idea of creating a user persona — a sort of theoretical person that would constitute your ideal client or consumer. A user persona is created by answering a plethora of questions including things such as:
- What level of education does your ideal client have?
- Is he/she married?
- Does he/she have children?
- Is your ideal client employed? Retired? Independently wealthy?
- Where does your ideal customer live?
- How much does your ideal user earn per year?
Some user personas even include deeper theoretical information such as what the user does as a hobby, what social issues he or she thinks about, or what his or her favorite stores are.
Creating a user persona is especially helpful when starting a new venture, as you will certainly want to have a solid picture of who your targets are and where you can find them. A user persona is also useful for established businesses that want to refocus their marketing efforts and find messages that will suit their target audience.
Defining Your Actual Users
There’s no question that building a comprehensive user persona can be an invaluable tool for a startup that is looking to build its traffic with investments in search engine optimization or paid advertisements. But in the case of an established business, creating a user persona is only one part of understanding the ideal client. The second part is understanding your existing clients and considering whether your actual users match your ideal users. This is where most businesses struggle and why conversion rates are often lower than they should be.
If you’re trying to see who your current users are, a strong business intelligence (BI) mechanism is essential. If your company is internet-based, this can be run via Google Analytics, one of the dozens of technology providers that exist, or even with a proprietary system built by your own development team. If you are running a brick-and-mortar enterprise, this analysis may be a bit trickier, but it can be done by looking at your clients’ addresses, having your staff speak to your customers to learn more about them or even creating online engagement opportunities (such as Facebook pages or giveaways) that will let your customers express themselves so that you can learn about them.
Many business owners are surprised to find that their actual clientele is markedly different from their ideal user persona. For example, if you are a financial broker looking to attract high net worth individuals, you may be surprised that the people most interested in your services are lower net worth individuals looking to build their wealth by investing with you. Conversely, if you have a personal finance service and are looking to target struggling people who need a pick-me-up, you may be surprised to learn that most of your readers or potential clients are comfortable financially and are looking for additional tips and tricks to help maintain their current wealth.
What To Do With Non-Ideal Clients
If you find that your current client base is not comprised primarily of your ideal user persona, you have three main choices:
- Find new ways to attract your ideal user persona and ignore the needs of your current clientele
- Adjust your product offerings to suit the needs of your actual clients instead of your ideal clients
- Continue with your current sales strategies and hope that your non-ideal clients will eventually convert to the products you are trying to sell
There is no one solution that will best answer this question. Instead, you should make your decision based on the unique strengths and weaknesses of your company and what it can offer. Are you equipped to change your offering to meet the needs of your actual clients? Do you have the resources to re-educate your current user base? Can your team handle a shift in strategy (practically and psychologically)?
Making assumptions about who your audience is can be a dangerous way to run a business, whether you’re running a mom-and-pop shop or a Fortune 500 company. The good news is that I’ve seen dozens of companies grow from struggling startups to successful investment houses just by pinpointing their ideal user(s) and tailoring their message(s) and acquisition channels accordingly. Like most successful business strategies, be prepared for gradual success rather than instant gratification. Once your new message is solidified, your community will grow and your success will grow with it.