This is one of my favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau. I often refer to it when I am struggling or in need of inspiration or motivation.
Imagination allows us to form images in our minds. We can recreate moments in time, adapt or modify those moments, or create new ones. We also can do the same thing with objects around us. We can form things that do not exist and simulate how they would function. Or we can replay what we have seen or change the way current things are used or function.
When Thoreau talks about the world being a canvas to our imagination, he is saying that we can take our dreams and bring them into the real world – make them tangible so others can see, hear or touch them.
In many ways, the world around is a canvas.
And like a painter, we each possess the tools to shape it.
Every move we make through the world is a brush stroke that shapes the landscape around us.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill
There is so much talk about privileges, or the advantages that some have over others. In my opinion, it is waste of energy to think or argue about such things. You cannot change your skin color, your gender, where you were born, how wealthy or poor your family is, or those things in other people.
The truth is that there is no promise or guarantee in life of equality or privilege, of happiness or humanity.
No government or person can make such a promise.
Only you can decide to take control of your life instead of letting life control you. Only you possess the individual ability to seize opportunity no matter where you are and create happiness and success for yourself.
Every day you are alive there are new opportunities, regardless of where you are. If you only focus on what you do not have, on the disadvantages you perceive exist and cannot control, you are defeated before you have started – waiting for someone else to deliver on a promise that cannot be kept.
Who is going to buy from you?
What are their motivations and needs?
What propels them into action? Are they driven by habit, planning, or urgent needs?
The starting process for identifying who your customer is involves asking a lot of questions.
You need to gather data to build a successful marketing and sales strategy. Data that goes beyond basic demographics. You need to get to the data points that tell you how people take action, when, and why. This way – you can build a blueprint for influencing that action, so your company has a chance to win their business.
Market and Competitor Research
One of the first steps in building a customer persona is to gain some basic insights on your industry and marketplace, and then dive into researching the market and its competitors in greater detail. This helps us to build a foundation for additional discovery.
Once we have some of the details, we get into the interview phase of the discovery process. Interviews of your customers and your internal staff are essential to understanding both your target audience and your marketing operations. We also may interview prospects and customers of your competitors (if they are willing).
Build Customer / Buyer Personas
The final phase is building the customer / buyer personas, and then connecting them to either your existing marketing operations, or, outline strategies that will better communicate your offerings to your audience. The key to this phase is developing a “plan for action.”
A Roadmap For Creating A Customer / Buyer Persona
We start the process through a combination of market and competitor research. Then we conduct a series of detailed interviews. Our interviews often include customers, prospects, and internal staff. We also may have conversations with people who have used competitor solutions.
From there, we examine your company’s offerings and sales results to understand how your business is performing, and gather all metrics you are using to measure success.
We will put together a preliminary set of findings to review before we finalize our analysis. Depending on your business, you could have 2 or 3 personas or you could have 15 or 20.
BACKGROUND ON THE PROCESS OF CREATING A CUSTOMER / BUYER PERSONA
When we build customer / buyer personas – we want to be as thorough as possible in our research and in our interviews.
We are going to look at market data, and a lot of information that is publicly available. However, there is going to be a lot of information that can only come from you – the client. So, it is important you are prepared for the work.
Here are basic things to prepare for when developing personas:
- We are going to ask for data from your sales database. Customer data, notes, buying histories, and more. This is very sensitive information. We recognize that. However, it is essential to understanding the current state of your company, and building out accurate personas.
- We are going to ask for a list of your competitors. This should not be difficult to provide. The more detailed the list – the better.
- Do you know about deals you have lost recently? Or companies that are using competitors? That information also will be helpful, because if we are able to connect with a representative from those companies – we can understand your deficiencies better and build better personas.
- We also will need a list of customers we can talk to – and your permission to contact them. We will review all questions / surveys with you before we present them to your customer. But we need to speak with them.
- Last, but not least, we are going to interview people on your sales, marketing, executive, product, and customer support teams. In some ways, they will all provide some much needed context that will go into your customer profile(s), but also, we will be able to spot inconsistencies in messaging and perception.