Last week at the Social Brand Forum 2015, Amber Naslund talked about using social data to create a total profile of a customer beyond simple demographics like gender, income, and age. This whole dimensional profile allows you to understand how to work with that person and be relentlessly relevant. But once you get all of that data, you may have a good understanding of what your client looks like, but how do you really get into his or her head? And how do you create content for them?
A technique creative writers use to get into their characters’ heads is free writing – spewing whatever words pop into your head on paper (or computer) without thinking about grammar or punctuation or even if it’s good. You can steal this idea to get into your clients’ or customers’ heads.
But First, Lay the Groundwork
Before starting to free write as your customer or client, it helps to get a crystal clear picture of that person by narrowing it down to one ideal client. Narrowing the target down may seem counter-intuitive at first. “I don’t want just one client; I want lots of clients,” you may say. “If I focus on this one person, I’ll be excluding too many others.” But, perhaps ironically, it doesn’t work this way. When you define one ideal client, you are not saying that is the only type of person you would like to attract. But it does two very important things:
1. There are millions of people in the world; hopefully hundreds, if not thousands, will purchase your product or service. Yes, it’s true, as human beings, we are all different. But, we also have a lot in common with each other. And those characteristics of people not exactly described as your one target client will have something in common with your target client. Those things in common are things directly related to your business, and they will be the people you’ll be in the best position to help.
2. As you know, in business, creating relationships based on trust is key. How can a potential client trust you if he or she is just one of dozens of people to whom you’re speaking? Will just being one of the masses make them listen? Probably not. In order to listen, to feel they can trust you, and to see you as a credible, caring, capable provider, they need to feel like you are speaking to them personally.
Having a vision of one customer in your mind will help you to talk directly to them and make them feel special, like you’re talking only to them. The magical thing is that dozens, even hundreds, of people can see your marketing materials and feel this personal, direct connection.
The Technique – Let Yourself Go
Often free writing is based on prompts. Following are prompts to help you get into your ideal customer’s head and speak to yourself from his or her point of view. Set a timer for at least five to ten minutes per prompt and let yourself go. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect – or even good – because nobody but you has to see it if that’s what you chose.
1. Write about a scene in which your ideal client is doing business with a firm/person similar to you/yours (or one of your specific, direct competitors). What’s being said? What’s the body language look like? What does he or she say about the problem your product or service solves? How is he or she feeling during the conversation? Criticize the provider – what’s the provider doing that you would never do?
2. Write a letter from your ideal customer’s point of view to yourself. Imagine your ideal customer has used your product or service and the problem is solved. How would he or she describe the process and outcome? What specific aspects were the most helpful? At what moment was he or she sure your product or service would be the one to finally solve the problem? Why did he or she like working with you more than your competitors?
And Then Use It
After writing these scenarios, you may want to revise them, get input from others, and create a sort of hypothetical testimonial from your customer or client to you or your company.
But even if you don’t take it that far, going through the exercise and having what you wrote in mind will help you has you move forward in marketing your product or service, because having these things in mind will have refined those notions of relevance Amber talked about, making it easier to understand and connect with your customers.