Buyer Personas: Values & Fears

What do my customers want and what are they worried about?

Values

A value isn’t the same thing as a goal for a client.  A value is what’s important in general, not a specific thing that the client wants to accomplish. Think of adjectives (dependable, open-minded, passionate). So what are my buyers looking for?

Reliability: They want a writer who can say something consistently. Having material to work with, like a document written by a client, is a great way to get even more material written (because you can spend less time preparing). At the same time, you want a client who is reliable, and offer works (and payment!) regularly.

Creativity: Some clients want you to rewrite their material, put in what they ask and nothing more. In that case you’re of a typist or transcriber than a writer (though sometimes a phrase is just not workable at all). A lot of times, though, you get to decide how to say what’s being said.

Communicative: I have worked in a grocery store as a clerk, and in a financial services business as an agent. Totally different tasks and activities. In each job, though, you have to talk to someone. A lot more people as a store clerk (all those customers and co-workers, managers) than as an agent associate (maybe the help desk, and the agent who assigns responsibilities).

Fears

“Fears” is an exaggeration. I don’t think people are necessarily afraid of anything in the business world (except not making any money), so it’s probably better to call it “hesitations.” That’s more realistic — it’s the things that keep them from trying new things in their business, hiring new people, launching new products. The big two are:

Hesitation of Loss: No one wants to lose money. Starting a new venture can be risky, and there’s no end to the research available about the best ways to offer a product or service, down to the best font to use on a blog post. The way to overcome that hesitation is by offering something, having a track record. If you have no track record, but people won’t try you without a track record… well, that Catch-22 is the eternal question.

Hesitation of Approval: It’s wise to consult different sources when getting ready to take action, like experts in the field, family and friends. The hesitation there is in whose opinion matters. Can a writer overcome this hesitation? Not directly, but finding research that supports the writer’s contributions to the project means the writer ends up with more contributions to the project.

 

Scheduling My Writing

I’m able to spend more time with my writing these days, even “writing ahead”  little bit as I work on pieces to be published this summer. Now that it’s April, I’ve already seen three articles in Kalamazoo Women’s Lifestyle, which I “marketed” to the people I wrote about. I’m also blogging about it and mentioning it on social media, though much more occasionally than I should.

Schedules that I’ve seen from other writers have a set time to write, a set time to research and a set time to query for more writing. The challenge is to find time for all of those things, and stick to it — there’s always other errands to do, and it’s my “curse” to enjoy hobbies I want to spend time on.

Selling My Words

Sales-type blog posts have so many guidelines: use sub-headlines (like “Selling My Words”), write to bullet points (aka “clickbait”), and make outbound links to other sites, to build up relationships. Personal blogs, diary-style blog posts (like this one here) are read, but not stumbled on as often, so they have to be promoted differently: as forum signatures, and in social media.

A lot of this information is already out there with a simple web search. Putting it into practice is what each person has to do for themselves. For me, that’s promoting myself. I’ve been interviewed a few times, for radio and in front of classrooms, and I’ve found it’s easier to do the interviewing. I wonder if celebrities ever ask themselves why someone cares about everything they do (answer: yes).

Well, look at it this way: I have things to say, lists of them, that I look at whenever I need an idea. I do want to be seen, because I have ideas that I want to contribute, plus, bloggers I read and podcasters I listen to say opportunities have opened up simply by putting their words out into the public world. That’s what I need to do… that, and the fact that I’ve already received emails and heard from people who have looked my work up online. I’m already out there. I just need to go farther.

Buyer Personas: Goals and Challenges

The second part of the Buyer Persona I’m developing to help shape my work is “Goals and Challenges.” What are my customer’s goals? “Making more money” is a goal, true, but it’s everyone’s goal, so I’ll leave that out. What do they need to improve to get more attention and more serious buyers, which will in turn lead to more money?

Goals

I’ve heard more than one client say, “You say it better than I could,” and a few have even said my handwriting is better, or typing is faster. Goal: The client knows what he wants to say, but not how to say it in the best way.

A lot of my writing is a starting point, where I create the content after discussing with the client about what they want to communicate. Many times, I am given notes, when the client isn’t sure of what they really want to say. They have a half-formed concept, and need to see it on paper or on screen before they can go any further. I put the ideas together in a way that makes sense, then the client goes back and edits it, adding to their original thoughts here, revising the concept there. Goal: The client needs someone to get their ideas organized and transcribed.

Some of my writing (and certainly what I try to do for myself) is more like marketing, where I am not only trying to explain a complex topic simply and comprehensively, but also encouraging people to learn more about it after reading what I’ve written. That has to do with the inbound marketing process: Hubspot calls it Attract-Convert-Close-Delight. At this point, I’m still mostly on the “attract” phase. That’s the next step for me, being more visible and easy to access online. What I do for others I can do for myself, too. But that will be the topic of a future post. For now, the goal is: The client needs to attract more buyers or at least “evangelists” for their product or service.

Three Goals:

  1. The client knows what he wants to say, but not how to say it in the best way.
  2. The client needs someone to get their ideas organized and transcribed.
  3. The client needs to attract more buyers or at least “evangelists” for their product or service.

Challenges

The goals can also be worded as challenges (for example, “Challenge: The client has a lot of ideas but doesn’t know how to organize them”). But let’s instead keep it separate. The biggest challenge for someone with no name recognition and not a lot of presence is building on what little presence there is until a “tipping point” is reached, and a path to success takes shape. Usually, if there’s no presence there’s no money, so that’s the place to start. Challenge: The client has no money to spend on marketing or writing.

Another suggestion by social media experts is to find a niche, a particular subject you’re interested in, and just focus on that. One strategy is to find the niches that are most desired and will therefore pay most. Another is to start with an idea, and figure out the best way to discuss that idea. “Writing” is too broad. “Writing about writing” is still too broad. “Writing about developing a buyer persona” is more focused, but a way to be even more specific is writing about a particular buyer persona — the one I’m working on here. Challenge: The client needs to find a niche.

Even if a client does find a niche, it won’t be unique. There are 7.5 billion people on Earth, and though only a fraction of those use the Internet, and an even smaller fraction are promoting themselves and their products or services, there’s still a lot of competition. So, what can be done to stand out from a crowd? The easy answer is to “go viral,” have a strange or funny video or message that attracts an unusual amount of attention all at once. Most of that will fall away after the next viral hit comes along, but some will remain. You can’t manufacture something viral (that’s kind of the point, though businesses do try). So, it’s better to be consistently unusual. Challenge: The client needs to stand out and “go viral,” if possible.

Three Challenges:

  1. The client has no money to spend on marketing or writing.
  2. The client needs to find a niche.
  3. The client needs to stand out and “go viral,” if possible.

Three goals and three challenges; six new avenues for me to explore with my clients. I’ll dig in to each one soon, as I develop my buyer persona.

What are your ideal client’s goals and challenges?